The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

General Discussion about electric bicycles.
MikeFairbanks   100 kW

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The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by MikeFairbanks » Dec 05 2010 12:29am

In a previous thread, posted about five weeks ago, I shared that I had won a grant from the local utility company to build an electric tricycle.

The grant was for $1500 and I promised the following criteria would be fulfilled:

1. A bicycle or tricycle would be assembled by fourth and fifth grade students.

2. An electric wheel would be added to the tricycle, assembled by the students.

3. Here comes the interesting part: The teacher (me) would conduct a six-month study on the cost/benefits of commuting to work/school by bicycle instead of car.

I knew when I wrote the grant that it was well-written, and I figured it might win (I compared my grant proposal to previous years and felt it was both unique and beneficial to the electric company, since they provide electricity). The grant's requirements are that it teaches the students. That was easy because fourth grade students in Georgia study motion, force and simple machines (bicycles are perfect to illustrate this) and fifth grade students study basic electrical theory and circuits).

So, on October 28 the grants were announced, and I got one. I was thrilled. They came to my classroom (and by then...two months after writing the proposal, it had left my mind) and the people of Fayette/Coweta EMC (the utitlity company) awarded me a gigantic check for $1500.

I then had to consider what products to order that would work effectively and be able to be put together by the students. I also wanted to consider this current economic situation our country is facing, so I worked to find American-made products. I chose to order a custom-made Worksman Industrial Tricycle. The people of Worksman Industrial Bicycles bent over backward to accomodate our needs. A special thanks to Heidi at Worksman. She voluntarily put a rush order on the trike (they only make them to order) and what would normally take three weeks plus shipping only took two weeks with shipping. She also knocked off 5% to help fit my budget. This was no small potatoes, since the tricyle, including shipping, was $973. It felt good to send money to New York instead of China.

Next, I called up Ebikekits.com (New Jersey--hub motors and wheels assembled in the USA) and ordered a front wheel with hub motor and a 36volt sealed lead acid battery pack (basically the complete kit). I chose Sealed Lead Acid because the commute is short, the trike is rated to carry 500 pounds, the battery is 30 pounds (but on a trike that makes little difference) and it was significantly less cost than a Lifepo battery pack. NOTE: If you are making a bicycle, spend the extra money on the lightest battery you can. A SLA battery pack is heavy. Like I said, on an industrial tricylcle it's not even an issue, but on a two-wheeler it would be very heavy and awkward.

This past Monday, while my students were in the library, a huge 18-wheeler truck pulled into the school parking lot. That never happens, so I knew it was the trike. Sure enough, it was. I helped to unload it, put it on a flat cart, and wheel it down to our elementary school's science lab (an empty classroom that we call the science lab).

Image

Image

Image

Everything, including the Ebike kit:

Image

Then, as the week progressed, kids kept asking me, "who will put it together?"

"You," I would reply.

Unfortunately, I injured my right foot last weekend, and by Tuesday was in pain, by Wednesday was in agony, and after visiting the orthopedic surgeon that day, he said "no activity for two weeks" and put a boot on my foot. My boss brought me crutches, and the next day I was hobbling around telling tall tales of how I hurt my foot (even though I eventually told everyone the truth that I hurt my foot dancing with my 9 and 11-year-old daughters in the family room--you know how dads will let their little girls stand on their feet while dad dances? Well, it's cute until someone gets hurt, and that someone was me.

Anyway, by Thursday afternoon I was going nuts, so this kid who stayed after school and I went to the "science lab" to tear the box apart and unpack that trike. I just couldn't wait any longer.

We dragged all the pieces back to my classroom, and then I went home to boohoo over my continuing hurt foot. I went to bed early (and throughout all this my dog had puppies, so the week was awash in terms of working on the project much......until the next day.....).

Friday morning: Students come in and, oh boy, you would think it's Christmas morning. They see that unassembled tricycle and Ebike Kit and start climbing on it, trying to move it, playing, yelling....general kid excitement (they are 9 and 10 and really good kids). So, I'm a little grumpy (I'm always a little grumpy in the morning before the caffeine kicks in) and am saying, "hey, take it easy....don't climb on it...put that down...don't break anything...get to your seats....get to your seats....go sit down....on 10, 9, 8..... (that always does the trick. I have no idea why). The whole time I was trying not to break out in a huge smile (believe it or not, if the first fifteen minutes of the day are crazy, the whole day is crazy. Normalcy is a religion in elementary school. :) )

After school announcements some of the kids left for enrichment classes (gifted) and I had about twelve kids left over. I took the bag holding the plastic pedals and tossed them to a kid. You would think I tossed him a bag of money the way his eyes lit up.

I sat back in my chair (remember, I'm in a boot--a plastic removable cast for my foot) and watched. I knew they'd struggle with the pedals, but you have to let kids learn. I asked, "are both your shoes the same?" They said, "no." I asked, "are bike pedals like that too?"

They are smart kids, so they instantly scoured the pedals for an indication of left and right. Once they figured that out one of the kids actually started turning the pedal the wrong way. But it was the right way because the left and right pedal aren't threaded the same way.

Next, I started opening bags: Handle bars, gooseneck (that's what I call it--the handlebar stem), bearings, washers, nuts, bolts, and other things. I had to borrow this tool and that from various teachers, and none of the tools were ideal, but the kids each got to put something together and then I tightened it to the best of my ability with the tools I had. It was funny watching the kids try to put the grips on the handlebars, and only got it once I suggested some water and a little soap. Then, of course, we realized that with the gears, brakes and other attachments (plus sliding the handlebars into the stem) that we should have waited on that. We had to pull the grips off and do it again.

Eventually it all went together, but one washer was left over (huh?) and one bolt was missing. So I took the whole class to the science lab and we scoured the empty cardboard boxes and trash for that missing bolt (for the gear shifter). And by golly, we found it. That surprised me.

So, back to the classroom. We finished the tricycle and took it outside for a spin. I rode it a bit with my boot on the foot, but that didn't stop me or make it difficult at all. Then, each fourth grade teacher took it for a spin around the small 1/10 mile running track built for the kids. One teacher took a turn too fast and learned that a tricyle doesn't corner like a bike. Luckily, the only consequence was her running off the track into a patch of grass. No crash.

Finally, I rode it around the track (slowly). And what's cute is that half the fourth grade students ran with us as we each rode around the track. I should have filmed it but I don't have a video camera (one arrives in the mail Tuesday from Amazon). I'll film next week.

Unfortunately, no matter how much we searched the building we could not find a bike helmet, and so I refused to let the kids ride it. Monday I'll bring in some helmets from home so each of the kids can try it (after a thorough lecture on safety, of course).


WHAT'S NEXT: part two: The motor and power.

More Photos:

Does this look like a bike wheel to you? Looks more like a motorcycle wheel.

Image

Now THIS is a bicycle chain. Heavy Duty

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Five Hundred Pound Capacity:

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American-Made/Kid-Assembled/Teacher-Approved

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The Assembly Team:

Image

Look for Part Two sometime next week as we attempt to electrify this thing and hopefully part three (testing) will commence, followed by part four (the daily commute).

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE FOLLOWING COMPANIES FOR THEIR GRANTS, HELP AND DISCOUNTS:

FAYETTE/COWETA EMC (the utility company that gave us the grant): http://www.utility.org/ForYourCommunity ... Ideas.aspx

WORKSMAN INDUSTRIAL BICYCLES: http://worksmancycles.com/shopsite_sc/s ... index.html

EBIKE KIT: http://www.e-bikekit.com/

And thank you to Uncle Ron and others who have provided so much excellent advice these past five weeks. Thank you.
Last edited by MikeFairbanks on Dec 05 2010 1:51pm, edited 10 times in total.
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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by spinningmagnets » Dec 05 2010 12:39am

Fan-TAS-tic!! Good to see kids getting excited over this type of thing early in life.

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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by lester12483 » Dec 05 2010 2:45am

I think thats really cool showing your students ebike technology. This could spark their interests in designing and engineering at a young age. Perhaps one daya of your students will design something that changes our lives. You never know.

Im glad to see this because schools nowadays don't focus enough on engineering and building things. I feel schools want everyone to be office workers and paper pushers.
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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by Hillhater » Dec 05 2010 3:18am

It is so encouraging to see this kind of story in our messed up world.
Not enough people realise the significance of having enthusiastic, passionate, and committed teachers.
It makes an enormous difference to the kids futures.
You and your colleagues are building the minds of our future population.
Keep up the good work !
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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by LI-ghtcycle » Dec 05 2010 3:23am

WOW!!! :shock: :shock: :shock:

Wish I had YOU as a teacher when I was young! 8) 8) 8)

+1,000 to what all have said! :D :D :D
Thank you Justin_Le for your selfless act of kindness! We all are in your debt.
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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by Evoforce » Dec 05 2010 4:19am

Good job securing the money and making a worthwhile project with your students.
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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by MikeFairbanks » Dec 05 2010 8:11am

There was this one kid who normally doesn't fit in very well academically, but he's really nice and smart. I feel that everyone else has overlooked this kid.

So, as we approached each little assembly item, I would pull out a tool and ask, "what is this tool?"

They mostly didn't know, but this one kid did. He knew a lot. I asked him how he knew and he said that his father and grandfather are mechanics, and they teach him their craft and let him watch.

I thought about that. How many of us are giving our kids practical knowledge? The kid was the only one in the class who knew what a ziptie was, along with many other things (like allen wrench, etc.). He identified phillips head screwdriver and more. I loved teaching them about snubnose pliers, needlenose pliers, slipjoint pliers, crescent wrench and more.

I was raised in a white-collar household, but my parents were raised in blue-collar households, so they taught me at an early age how to fix things, how to know tools and more. We weren't poor, but we were lower middle class and that meant we fixed things instead of throwing them out and buying new.

Now-a-days, especially in the upper-middle class area I live, people just put a bike out with the trash when it becomes a little messed up, and then they head back to Walmart to get a new one. Or, they get a Trek (my whole family has treks) and let the store do all the work.

These Worksman Industrial Bicycles are like nothing you have ever seen. They are THICK in every area. I can't even imagine how solid and smooth-riding the beach cruisers are, and they are cheap. You can get an American-made custom beach cruiser for $300, and every single component is tough as a tank. You should see the tires on these things. They look like motorcycle tires. Sure, if you want something that goes uphill easily, these aren't the best thing, but if you want smooth, tough, and extremely stylish these Worksmans are great.

When I called Worksman, I didn't get an endless menu of phone options. There might be one or two buttons to press (I don't remember), but you get honest-to-goodness Americans who answer the phone in thick New Yawk accents and who take their business and craft seriously. I can't say enough good things about these bikes. And each component is like you remember from thirty years ago: Real bolts that require real tools. With care, this Worksman's tricycle is going to be around longer than me. I want to tell everyone about these bike because I'm so impressed.

American manufacturing can make a comeback if we all just buy one solid American-made product and remember back to a time when American-made products were superior to everything else. More importantly, American-made products give us a job. That $973 I spent on the bike (from the electric company's grant) is now in New York. Those New Yorkers will, hopefully, buy more things made in America, and the flow of money (economy) will continue to accelerate here in the USA. Okay, this is sounding political. I'll stop.

Tomorrow (Monday) we'll take a tire off of an old bike wheel that's from my garage and put it on the Ebikekit rim. The rim that came with the motor is much lighter and weaker than the Worksman's rim, so I'm considering how to best go about doing this. We'll start with that rim, but I might have to take the motor off and attach it to the Worksman's rim. Not easy.

Stay tuned. I'm going to try to update everyday.
Last edited by MikeFairbanks on Dec 06 2010 2:49pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by Harold in CR » Dec 05 2010 8:36am

Excellent post. That's exactly how I raised my kids. If it's broke, fix it. If you can't, come ask me. I will help EXPLAIN how to fix it.

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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by katou » Dec 05 2010 10:51am

If I may make a suggestion, put all of your questions/trials/tribulations in this one thread. Then I know where to check for updates. With two threads, it fragments attention. JMHO.

I am curious to see how you protect the electricals from all those little hands! It would be interesting to show the class connecting the batts in parallel, = slow and then hook them in series = fast. That simple difference will probably blow their minds, and generate some verrry interesting questions.

Video of the kids using/building/enjoying the trike would probably be very, very valuable to the grantors.

I wonder if the grantors would like to see what you could do with 10,000...?

Local seniors residence? People with mobility issues? Use in local hospitals for balance training? increase supervision in the schoolyard by increasing mobility of teachers? Recharge from roof mounted windmill? Pulling a parade float? Hmmm.....

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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by Drunkskunk » Dec 05 2010 11:33am

Amazing. I wish we had teachers like this when i was a kid.
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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by MadRhino » Dec 05 2010 12:41pm

Very interesting project to do with kids at school. Let's hope that some other schools copy your idea.

This will be a simple setup, as you already have a convenient place to install the battery on the tricycle. Don't worry about the wheel, it is not the best MTB rim but still, those double wall aluminium rims are more solid that one could imagine by feeling their weight. If you are in an area where you expect snow in the winter, you should install a knobby tire for traction, if you will ride it every day for the next 6 month.

Wish you best
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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by MikeFairbanks » Dec 05 2010 1:18pm

I will close the other thread (the one about the bike tire) and stick with this thread for this project.

Also, I won't be riding in any snow (Atlanta). We see, at most, two or three days of light snow on the ground, and everything shuts down when that happens. Nobody goes anywhere, and by the next day the roads are crystal clear. I won't ride in the rain either. But the cold won't stop me. :)
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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by liveforphysics » Dec 05 2010 1:29pm

Looking great. :)
It's awesome that you're going to be showing kids electric power at an early age, they will all want ebikes rather than regular bikes this way. :)


Does your class have a 2:1 girl:boy ratio?
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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by MikeFairbanks » Dec 05 2010 2:07pm

liveforphysics wrote:Looking great. :)
It's awesome that you're going to be showing kids electric power at an early age, they will all want ebikes rather than regular bikes this way. :)


Does your class have a 2:1 girl:boy ratio?
The photo was just a fraction of the kids who are in on the project. This was a pic taken at recess. Most of the boys were shooting hoops. My classes are actually perfectly split boy/girl. I'm a big believer in pushing science on the kids, boys or girls. I'm also a big believer in layman's engineering. Make things, fix things, experiment, break things, etc. Just get your hands dirty and scratched up. If there isn't a little dirt and a little blood, you're not doing it right....right?
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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by Hillhater » Dec 05 2010 5:33pm

MikeFairbanks wrote:.... If there isn't a little dirt and a little blood, you're not doing it right....right?
..RIGHT ! :D
.....and a few blisters !
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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by BLUESTREAK » Dec 05 2010 11:28pm

Good job and well done: I love trikes and have (2) SCHWINN MERIDIANS one for me and one for my WIFE and me :D . one does 25 mph and one does 30+mph. one is a (x5306) and the other is a (9C-6x10). You are going to have a lot of fun for the next 6 months. :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by amberwolf » Dec 06 2010 2:39am

MikeFairbanks wrote: If there isn't a little dirt and a little blood, you're not doing it right....right?
I guess I must be doing it extra-right, given my quantities of those. :lol:

I had exactly one teacher like you (that got kids thinking, involved): Sheila Ringheiser, chemistry teacher in highschool. She's also the only one I actually remember the full name of, for that reason. I ended up as a kind of teacher's assistant and learned even more that way. I wish more teachers were like this.

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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by Spacey » Dec 06 2010 4:19am

A good teacher can be all that a misunderstood kid needs to get back on track. When I was at school I was considered either a complete nutcase or a genius...they did not know which. But I was disruptive and suffered hugely from OCD from about 11 years old.

My music teacher was the only teacher who saw something in me and would spend two days a week after school letting me play with the new synthesisers and teach me composition.

45 record releases later I feel I have him to thank for this totally as no one else at the school bothered or even questioned why a bright young kid was having trouble even writing a sentence in a book (OCD doing what it does best lol, messing thins up). A good teacher can be the difference between a kid that just gets left behind or one that can utilize a skill that they did not realise they had.

Sorry for going off topic but we need more teachers that do not stick to the norm but excite young minds and realise that all kids are different. Top job on the bike, looking forward to the next installment :D
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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by MikeFairbanks » Dec 06 2010 9:15am

Spacey wrote:A good teacher can be all that a misunderstood kid needs to get back on track. When I was at school I was considered either a complete nutcase or a genius...they did not know which. But I was disruptive and suffered hugely from OCD from about 11 years old.

My music teacher was the only teacher who saw something in me and would spend two days a week after school letting me play with the new synthesisers and teach me composition.

45 record releases later I feel I have him to thank for this totally as no one else at the school bothered or even questioned why a bright young kid was having trouble even writing a sentence in a book (OCD doing what it does best lol, messing thins up). A good teacher can be the difference between a kid that just gets left behind or one that can utilize a skill that they did not realise they had.

Sorry for going off topic but we need more teachers that do not stick to the norm but excite young minds and realise that all kids are different. Top job on the bike, looking forward to the next installment :D
I know what you mean. My daughter has OCD too, and is homeschooled for it. Mucho anxiety, but a sweet kid and a smart kid. There's a lot of potential.

45 Records? That's a healthy level of productivity. My goodness!
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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by MikeFairbanks » Dec 06 2010 3:07pm

MONDAY, DECEMBER 6TH:

The students gathered around to look at and work on bike tires and wheels. First, I made them identify (or learn about) the various tools needed to get the tire off one rim and onto another.

Before I continue, I want to stress the following: please do not underestimate this next generation. They have as much potential as any generation. We think they're spoiled because they have Ipads, video games, cell phones and more (and they do have those things), but it's amazing how kids are kids.....they're no diferent than they were a long time ago: they want to work on things. They want to make things, explore, get their hands dirty and more. They don't need all those fun gadgets to be entertained. They might think they need those things (and they certainly want them....who doesn't?), but they get such a thrill out of doing this project.

These kids all raised their hands just to be the one to let the air out of the tire, to pull the tire off the rim, to gently remove the innertube, and to mount the tube and tire onto the Ebike Kit rim. They even wanted to help at recess, and so they did.

America can be saved if we just let these kids put their imagination, curiosity and creativity to work.

School kids should be building sheds, constructing footbridges over creeks, making playground equipment, helping to cook food in the cafeteria and more. This practical knowledge is what helps them to come up with practical ways to bring ideas to reality. I don't think our neighborhood of 300 homes has a single tree house in the woods, and we are surrounded by woods.

When I was in high school we had a huge building that was dedicated to automotive, carpentry, welding, photography, and computers (although the computers were junk), and we loved it. There was no shame in attending shop classes. I even remembering once a kid making a condescending comment to another boy by asking, "do you plan to spend half your life in a metal shop?"

The metalshop kid replied, "no...my whole life."

That struck me as cool. He had ambition, while many who thought they were above that had little ambition at all.

Yada, yada.

Back to the project:

We didn't get a lot done today (still had to do a review for tomorrow's science test, read from the class novel, two-digit divisors in division, and more), but the kids mounted the tire onto the rim of the hub motor, and then a small group of girls set about reading and highlighting the instruction manual for the hub motor.

Today they learned to identify a crescent wrench, socket wrench, socket driver, adjustable crescent wrench, valve stem, valve, wheel lining (that's what I call it...the thin band of rubber on the rim that protects the innertube from the spokes) and more.

Tomorrow we start studying the instruction manual in more detail and will watch, in class, the instruction video on how to put the power system and motor into place.

Stay tuned......
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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by johnrobholmes » Dec 06 2010 3:22pm

Awesome read! Glad to hear that all is not lost on the young kids. I have been having a hard time trying to teach my nephew bike parts, but he is only 6.

If you have any questions or concerns about the front wheel build, contact me. I have done a lot of weird jobs and it isn't difficult to figure out how to make things work right with a bit of head scratching. Maybe the workman bike rim can be put on the electric hub if the time comes.

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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by Spacey » Dec 06 2010 3:40pm

45 Record releases over a 15 year period, in dance music I suppose I am considered lazy lol. Only had a couple of relatively cash inducing releases. Is now sadly a hobby due to so much piracy....but better to write music for love than money.

OCD can be a real pain, but you have spotted it and hopefully she will grow out of it. At 37 I am just coming to terms with it, as in finally getting a grip, forced myself into a job where I have to face real situations (Police Force), that job has really sorted me out...... it's at it's purist a control thing, a fear of things not going how you want. A fear of just about any ludicrous situation controlled by pattern behaviour that sets your mind at ease at first, but like a bug routine in a 4k ram computer of old.... it can mess up your train of thought.

She should grow out of it.
MikeFairbanks wrote:
Spacey wrote:A good teacher can be all that a misunderstood kid needs to get back on track. When I was at school I was considered either a complete nutcase or a genius...they did not know which. But I was disruptive and suffered hugely from OCD from about 11 years old.

My music teacher was the only teacher who saw something in me and would spend two days a week after school letting me play with the new synthesisers and teach me composition.

45 record releases later I feel I have him to thank for this totally as no one else at the school bothered or even questioned why a bright young kid was having trouble even writing a sentence in a book (OCD doing what it does best lol, messing thins up). A good teacher can be the difference between a kid that just gets left behind or one that can utilize a skill that they did not realise they had.

Sorry for going off topic but we need more teachers that do not stick to the norm but excite young minds and realise that all kids are different. Top job on the bike, looking forward to the next installment :D
I know what you mean. My daughter has OCD too, and is homeschooled for it. Mucho anxiety, but a sweet kid and a smart kid. There's a lot of potential.

45 Records? That's a healthy level of productivity. My goodness!
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MadRhino   100 GW

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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by MadRhino » Dec 06 2010 3:45pm

MikeFairbanks wrote:...School kids should be building sheds, constructing footbridges over creeks, making playground equipment, helping to cook food in the cafeteria and more. This practical knowledge is what helps them to come up with practical ways to bring ideas to reality. I don't think our neighborhood of 300 homes has a single tree house in the woods, and we are surrounded by woods.

When I was in high school we had a huge building that was dedicated to automotive, carpentry, welding, photography, and computers (although the computers were junk), and we loved it. There was no shame in attending shop classes....
You speak the truth

I was born on a farm, in the '40s, when we had to do all by ourselves. All my life in town, my friends and clients been amazed at how I can do any kind of work. They ask: How did you learn to do all this? -Well, I didn't. I only have no fear to try, and am sure I can do it with a bit of common sense, and patience.

That is why we have to get our kids involved in all sort of things, while they are young and at the best of their learning ability. What they need to learn most: To try, to think, and try again
Make it fool-proof, and I will make a better fool.
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kriskros   10 kW

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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by kriskros » Dec 06 2010 5:03pm

when i was in grade school, boys went to manual training class... hand tools omly woodworking and girls went to home ec,,,sewing,by hand, and cooking, wood stove ,ect.. very practical....electrical circuits,,machines?????? this was in Toronto pop about 600,000. schoolyards were STRICTLY divided. girls one end, boys the other... east is east and west is west ect ....school budgets were VERY limited.. dont rememnber ba project that required more than three bd. ft. , pine only ..pre ww2... had 5 boys... reasinble assortment of tools and i used to give the boys projects..e.g entry for the soap box derby...bobsleigh, ice fish.ing hut, ect. you guys scroung e the materials. all the planning and construction was a group effort .... other policy [as my father did to me] after each was 10 years old... you want a new bike??? new skates ect... how much???? ok, heres my half .. in a glass jar on the mantle... you raise the other half.. they took good care of their things .... you are a dam fine teacher MIKE, proud of your profession, proud of your work and very proud of your students KEEP IT UP

MikeFairbanks   100 kW

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Re: The Student-Made Industrial-Strength Electric Tricycle

Post by MikeFairbanks » Dec 08 2010 1:30pm

UPDATE: December 8, 2010

The tricycle was assembled this week, of course (and a little last week), and I'm stalling on putting on the E-Bike Kit motor to give kids a chance to ride the tricycle around the running track. They learned quickly that a tricycle doesn't corner like a bike, but they think it's fun.

Later, back in the classroom, the students began to read the Intruction Manual for the Ebike Kit. It's very easy to read, well-organized, and the kids had a blast highlighting the important parts.

One of the first important notations in the instrucation manual is about the front forks. They have to be steel in order for the motor to work safely without breaking the forks. But how can you tell if forks are steel? This is the question I asked the students (even though I knew how--magnet--plus I knew the forks were steel).

The students made several suggestions on how to identify the forks as steel. One student suggested we weigh them, since steel is heavier than aluminum. I replied, "but the forks are connected to the bike, and even if we removed them, how would we know what aluminum and steel forks should weigh?" Students then suggested we tap on the metal, because aluminum and steel would make a different sound. I told them that was an excellent idea, but again, "how would we know what it sounds like?"

Finally, after some hinting one student said, "magnets stick to steel."

"Yes," I replied, and took out a strong magnet. The student held it against a set of aluminum crutches, and the magnet fell to the floor. Then he held them to the tricyle front forks, and of course the magnet stuck.
------

Next, we had to make sure the front forks were wide enough. The manual says 100mm. But there is a drum brake in the way, and I didn't want to remove the wheel. Therefore, the students measured in increments and came up with three numbers on three separate attempts: 98mm, 95mm, and 92mm. It seems that the more we measured, the narrower the forks became.

Eventually we had to take off the front wheel (or, I should say the students had to). They found the right size wrenches for three different bolts/screws, and finally got the assembly apart. The wheel came off, the ruler went up, and we measured a precise 100mm. Phew.

Then we put the front wheel back on because, as mentioned, I want the kids to learn more about electricity and throroughly read the installation manual before preceeding with the project. Plus, the kids want to ride the tricyle before the motor is installed.

Personally, I'm going crazy with anticipation, waiting for the chance to install that motor. I want to stay late at work and get it done on my own. I'm like a kid myself with this thing.

But we have to wait a couple days. The kids need a good ride or two before we put on the assembly. Plus, I just got a new video camera, and I want to get videos of the kids riding, working, etc.

SPECIAL NOTE: I want to give a big thank you to Jason at http://www.e-bikekit.com
He has been very helpful and encouraging. More than that, however, these guys have put together a kit that is so well-organized, and includes everything needed. This is very important for those who are technically limited in knowledge, or for students. In fact, it is really good for students because all the parts and instructions are laid out perfectly.

Today (actually in about five minutes) I'll be showing the kids a fifteen minute film that explains what electricity is and how it's made. Here in Georgia we use coal-fired powerplants (about 60%) along with nuclear and hydroelectric plants. It's important that kids know this because at their age they just see electricity as something that comes out of the wall. Our goal (once the project is finished) is to compare and contrast electric transportation to gasoline-powered. There are advantages and disadvantages of both, of course, and the students can learn a great deal about how much energy is needed to transport people and goods.

Stay tuned:

Tomorrow we ride the tricycle a bit more, and begin the process of placing the motor on the front. Our goal is to be well on our way through the project by Friday afternoon, and definitely need to have the electricy tricycle funtional by a week from tomorrow (the last day of school in this grading period and the last day of school before the Holiday break).
Stay frosty

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