Monday, August 18, 2008

Tables are electricitized!

Today Fred again biked to Roosevelt and helped with several more things. I can now say the electrical for the tables are done!

Last Friday Eddie came over to Roosevelt after his IFL workshop to splice some more plugs and found that one of the outlets had something wrong with it--it sparked when plugged in. I knew that we had to check the wiring in all of the outlets but I figured we would need to use a multimeter. However, by good chance Fred brought a handy-dandy outlet tester that lets one know if the wiring was done properly.

I wish I could say that Fred only had to correct 1 mistake today but I believe there were...5! Anyway, that's why we have quality control :-)

Fred overhauled some 20 more Pentium III's and spliced on the last 3 plugs. I cleaned out the Ethernet cables from last year and did several other odds and ends. Things are sure coming together!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Thanks eBay

eBay is supplying 3 Printer Toners and 3 JetDirect network interface cards. If I had bought these things new I would have spent about $1,600 (I checked them out first on the 'net). Now the HP 8150's should be ready to cook! As long as the eBay stuff works...

Also, just 'won' an auction for 10, 17" LCD monitors--working out to $71 each including shipping--Hope they work! Thank goodness that eBay exists, else this project might not function...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Volunteers continue to make things happen!

Lots 'o help! My wife volunteered to help paint, Fred and his wife stopped by Roosevelt to check things out and she said, "Is there anything we can do to help out today?"

She didn't have to ask twice!
The two of them figured out a procedure to disconnect the CD and floppy drives, remove the hard drive and disconnect the fan--allowing future reconnection if the computer (serving as a thin client) warms up too much--a concern of Freds.

Maria primed then black touch-up painting on the frames where I had sanded the corners to smooth them off. She also stained all of the edges of the sub-table top and they really look sharp! Now we will simply poly these edges of the plywood making them tough and thus much more difficult for fidgeting fingers to flay.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Making sense of the whole shabang...

One thing us teachers have had to do quite a bit is make sense of all these new technologies, these new software opportunities. I've been doing this for a while now, but Ed and Christen are having a crash course. Luckily they have a high tolerance for confusion and ambiguity.

Ed has taken to the (free) concept mapping software, CmapTools. He worked on making concept maps on his car trip to the west coast. He uses them to take notes in district meetings. And, when he copies the maps to our internet Cmap Server then anyone has access to these notes.

At our meetings we always try to take notes and hammer out understandings on concept maps. One cool thing about doing your concept map on the Cmap Server on the internet is that many people can simultaneously interact with the same map at once. This is pretty impressive. It is interesting too because it solidifies a map of the knowledge as one discusses it, and you can build one it, changing the concept map as your groups understanding grows. When this map gets to a coherent whole, I'll post it. Wait, why wait--as long as the concept map is worth looking at, it will be 'under construction'. Here it is.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Building, day 15-- details

It's a double edged sword. On the 'desired' cutting-edge I try things that are pretty big, things that a person who can clearly see details would wisely never attempt. On the 'cursed' cutting-edge I always mega-underestimate the amount of time it takes to do a project because... I only foggily envision a small fraction of the required details.

For example today I went to Home Depot to buy a 36 1/2 inch square piece of Masonite that I used to make sure all of the glass frames were square and of the same size (within an 1/8 inch tolerance). Well, they didn't have 4 foot square pieces of Masonite from which to cut to the right dimensions, and thus I had to buy a 4' x 8' sheet and have them cut it from there. And therefore, I brought home the extra 5' x 4' sheet of eighth-inch Masonite on top of my car. Lashing it there was a challenge because it was so flimsy it wouldn't stay fixed. It probably took 20 minutes wrestling with this Masonite on top of the roof to make it safely home.

Another example from today: when coming up with the solution of making 2 "power strips" per table with 1 sufficiently long cord so as to satisfy fire code, it all seemed so simple in my mind! All I would need would be 2 duplex boxes, 4 outlets, and a long orange extension cord. With just a few snips of wire here and there and a bit of work and they'd be done! Right.

So, since I got an excellent deal on 100 foot orange extension cords I bought those, requiring cutting them roughly in the middle to make either 40, 50 or 60 foot extensions. just the simple act of cutting these extension cords in half became a job! And if this simple thing became a job, you can imagine every other little tiny detail of installing the electricity, so simple to think about, also became a job, requiring about 14 hours to finish all 24 sub-assemblies!!! The following pictures show some of what was required to 'simply' cut the cords in half. Unfurling, cutting, labeling and recoiling them......and then just 10 more to do...

Having those detailed-oriented people as members of ones team is indeed a blessing :-)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Transporting several hundred pounds of printers

This morning Ed and I picked up the remaining items from Computers for Schools. As all four of the printers are large-format HP LaserJet's, this move would not have happened if it hadn't been for Eddie's trailer. These large format printers will allow us to print expansive views of students concept maps and other graphic oriented content. In the picture you can see David K from Computers for Schools signing over the printers to us.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Building, day 14

Thursday was "do-everything-else/try-to-regain-balance-in-the-project day". Well, at least I got a few things done, anyway.

Friday, today, was our last day in the shop. There was nothing bittersweet about that :-)

Ed and I sped through the day trying to finish the last few things that required a wood shop. Again, we were there until the last moment however we weren't quite able to finish everything; we were very close though.

We still had a couple of decisions to make, however. We had decided the best way to attach the electrical boxes sandwiched between the sub tabletop and a foot square supporter of the very bottom. I had been thinking about it for a week and had a design in my mind, Ed had a design in his mind, also. Like so many aspects of this project, our team design decision process reflected what we want in our own science classroom communities.I was convinced my method was better, and Ed, that his method was better. The image on the left illustrates my method that on the right, his method.

Both of our methods had merit, of course, and we both wanted the best design. to analyze the design we dissected, then examined, the variables that made the design "better". This, of course, brought me to think about thinking tools, in particular, the comparison matrix. Below is a screenshot of one I've used my class while teaching about microscopes.Variables In this case included student safety, ease of construction, speed of construction, ease of wiring, strength, beauty, fewer resources, and I don't remember what else. As Ed said, even though we each thought our own methods were better, we had to truthfully open ourselves to understanding the other persons method because, perhaps it might indeed be better. Looking at the photo below you can see which method we decided was the best--It indeed was the easiest.
Instead of drilling holes through the 2 x 6 is in the leg assemblies we opted for the easier solution of simply notching them.

To give the glass frame a more finished look and eliminate the danger of splinters from the edge of the sub tabletop they were sanded using a belt sander.
Here you can see some of the 24 tables lined up ready to go toward our science rooms, upstairs. Yes, that was good exercise...