Our quest to measure how frequently a skateboard wheel spins in a given amount of time continues. Working off of Twitter feedback (leave your feedback here) from Andrew Carle and Katie Mae, we built reed switches – circuits that use magnets to pull contacts together to complete themselves. We passed the reed switches through our MaKey MaKey board so that every time our circuits completed themselves, TextEdit would type a “w.” Our plan has been to get our wheel sensor working so that we can reliably consider each “w” a complete revolution of the wheel.
Our switches all tested just fine, but they failed as wheel sensors. The boxes had to be held too close to the wheel to work; the magnet we hot-glued to the wheel pulled the entire box of the switch we used (at the distance we held it) into contact with the magnet which created friction which slowed the wheel. At “fast” speeds, the circuit didn’t stay completed long enough to register on the computer. At “slow” speeds, the magnet and circuit locked together pumping out an endless stream of “w.”
We remain undaunted by our serial failure because the learning matters to us. It is, in fact, fun to fail because we are building al the while. We are not chasing the answer; we are trying out many of them. Finding most of our answers lacking so far, my chief student inquirer has come up with these conclusions:
- We need clamps to hold our reed switches in place because the friction of our hand-held sensor hitting the wheel is not helping us.
- We need to make a more sensitive reed switch.
- We need a more powerful magnet on our skateboard wheel that can act over a short distance.
In thinking about our work (in classroom) and our work (in the profession), I come to a question similar to one I’ve asked before.
What prevents us from finding joy in failure?
Why do we remain so complicit with purely notional, test-based “success?”