Make Your Own Motor or: coping with variables

We tried something today, something that was a pure experiment…

Felix came in today and immediately told me that he wanted to try out some “Do It Yourself” motors.  He wanted to see if we could find a design that we could teach visitors to make.  He showed me some ideas he had and some “how to” videos created by fellow Makers.  We decided to make three different designs and then figure out which would be the easiest to teach to other people.  It was like Goldilocks and the Three Bears; one design didn’t work at all, one design was too complicated and one design seemed just right…”Seemed” is the magic word.

We got all of our materials together and decided to simply test the project out with a some visitors.  Our first group loved the idea of being guinea pigs for our experimental programming.  We patiently took them through the steps of the motor making process.  There were a few bumps here and there.  In the end, we successfuly built several simple motors.  There were some problems along the way; our batteries weren’t the best, there’s some precision balancing involved in one of the steps, etc.

By and by, we realized we were not teaching visitors about building motors;  we were teaching a lesson in persistence and experimentation.  Never give up…Keep trying…

You can always go back to the drawing board…

Teach people to tinker, to think, to explore, to make; that’s our goal…

Teaching myself to appreciate these same exact things was incredibly important too.


  1. Kevin Reply

    Oh, and I have to thank Matt Metz for originally inspiring this project a couple of years ago.

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