STEM Education Summit

Seven Vinton: Strategies for extending student logical reasoning

During this online session, Seven will be discussing some of the strategies he uses to extend students’ use of logical reasoning and prediction. He will do a walk-through of his ‘Flying Wing’ student project using Fusion 360, discussing aspects of the design and engineering process, and the ‘short-cutting’ of lower-order tasks to help provide students more engagement time in higher-order tasks such as testing and evaluating.

About this talk

Follow how Seven Vinton uses simulated test environments to encourage students to tap into their prior learning and apply logic to make informed predictions.

Seven will also discuss the role that governments and industry partners can play in the development and support of this STEM learning area and he will discuss the strategies and tools he has designed and used over the past 8 years to help place flexibility and creativity as the centre-point of learning in his classroom.

About the Speaker

STEM Specialist, Oberon High School

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Peter Dalmaris: Hi, everyone. And welcome to Seven Vinton, who is about to deliver a presentation on some of the strategies he's developed to help his students make use of logical reasoning.

Peter Dalmaris: Seven's talk is part of a STEM Education Summit, a unique event where educators from around the world come together to share the best insights on the technologies, methodologies, and philosophies they use to teach and inspire the next generation of amazing humans.

Peter Dalmaris: I'm Peter Dalmaris, an online educator, author of Maker Education Revolution, and co-founder of Tech Explorations.

Peter Dalmaris: Seven Vinton is a STEM specialist at Oberon High School in Victoria, Australia. Seven has held several leadership roles in his 20 plus years of teaching, including professional learning and curriculum leader, e-learning leader, and hands-on learning coordinator. He currently instructs the students in the programing languages C++, MATLAB, JavaScript, and Python, and is the creator of the open source Arduino INNOV8 Shield.

Peter Dalmaris: In this talk, Seven will discuss some of the strategies he uses to extend students use of logical reasoning and prediction. He'll do a walkthrough of his Flying Wing student project using Fusion 360, discussing aspects of the design and engineering process, and the shortcutting of lower order tasks to help provide students more engagement time in high order tasks, such as testing and evaluating. Seven will show how he uses simulation to encourage students to tap into the prior learning and apply logic to make informed predictions.

Peter Dalmaris: Seven, it's a pleasure to have you with me today. How are you?

Seven Vinton: Yeah. Good. Thank you, Peter. Thank you for that introduction.

Peter Dalmaris: My pleasure. It's been a few years since we had a chat like this, and a lot has happened in the meantime.

Seven Vinton: Yeah, and a lot has happened just in this year alone.

Peter Dalmaris: Yes, let's say the last three or four weeks.

Seven Vinton: We're all very used to having online meetings at this difficult time.

Peter Dalmaris: Yes. Education is never going to be the same again. So, I can't wait to hear what you've got in store for us. I know that you've done some very interesting things over the last few weeks or few months, so looking forward to it.

Peter Dalmaris: I've got a question to kickstart your presentation. So, in your talk, among other things, you talk about logical reasoning and prediction, and how you helped students to make use of those cognitive tools using engineering projects, which, as you know, I'm very interested in. Could you take a few minutes to explain what is logical reasoning and what is prediction in the context of your work?

Seven Vinton: So, this conference is the STEM Education Summit, now, when did we start really hearing that word STEM come about? It hasn't been around that long. It's been, you know, from my point of thinking, around about ten years.

Peter Dalmaris: Yeah. I think that's right. Yeah. But some people put it back into the 60s. It depends on the philosophy supplied in the context of STEM education to come from way back. But, you know, in the way that we talk about it now, especially after it became a thing that schools and teachers wanted to implement, yeah, I think ten years. You're about right.

Seven Vinton: Yeah. And I was reading this interesting article just the other day, and it was talking about the anxieties associated with it. So, talking about STEM does let us strike fear into the hearts of parents because they feel that their students are going to be left behind. And I thought, well, that is pretty sad, really, if you put that much emphasis, that much focus on it, that people become anxious about it.

Seven Vinton: Because, really, not much has changed in a lot of ways from what this was beforehand. We just kind of attached this kind of name to it to put the focus on it, but the learning hasn't really changed. And I haven't really changed what I've been doing for the past 20 years, really. So, just going on from there.

Seven Vinton: But this is my way of thinking, is, Science, Technology, and Mathematics added together equals Engineering. You can't have Engineering without Mathematics, Technology, and Science together. So, really, for me, STEM is Engineering. Engineering kind of encapsulates what STEM is. So, that's kind of what my focus is. I don't focus too much on the STEM thing. It's really about that Engineering and Engineering thinking.

Seven Vinton: So, these days, if you think about what do you need to become an engineer? Like, if somebody wanted to become an engineer, well, there's that pressure to make sure that they're covering all those subjects in school, doing well on all those subjects, then they've got to go through the university, get the paperwork to become an engineer. But what happened in the past? Was it like that in the past? But if you think of some of those engineers that changed the world, did they go through that same process?

Peter Dalmaris: Inventors.

Seven Vinton: So, someone like Nikola Tesla. So, it was interesting when you look at the background of these people, they actually had a hard time at school, a lot of them. And this is not unusual when you're thinking about people who were so influential. They didn't fit into school. They didn't fit into that box. He never graduated from university.

Seven Vinton: And this was interesting, too, he was able to do the calculus in his head. So, the teachers actually thought he was cheating. So, they didn't believe that he could do it.

Peter Dalmaris: Yeah. Not possible.

Seven Vinton: But also what's interesting, too, is where the spark is. So, for him, it was his physics teacher inspired that spark, that then drove him to want to explore more.

Seven Vinton: Now, we have the Wright Brothers. So, the Wright Brothers, once again, one was expelled from school. They didn't get their diplomas. But it was their father that bought a little model helicopter that inspired that first spark. And I really like this here, too, that they played with the thing until it broke and then they built their own. So, that's where their initial spark came from.

Seven Vinton: And there was not that fear of mistakes. Obviously, with these two here that they had to have almost no fear to actually send their planes up, and had that confidence that at least they're going to fly or partly fly. But they had to have a lack of fear too. A lack of fear of mistakes.

Seven Vinton: And Philo Farnsworth as well, the inventor of the television. So, once again, he didn't quite fit into school. And he was barred from doing the advanced classes at his university, but decided to go to the lectures anyway and make use of those facilities. But he, on a farm, just making use of forks around him and coming up with these inventions.

Seven Vinton: So, they didn't fit into the box. They didn't wait for somebody to give them a piece of paper that said they could do it. They just went and did it. And that's the way it was.

Seven Vinton: But, now, we kind of wait for that piece of paper or we feel that we have to fit into that box. And for teachers, at least, what you have to ensure you do is not be the block up of that learning. So, we can see in each of these cases here that in some ways their teachers or the education system was a block up. And that's the thing that we have to make sure we do, we don't block that progress, don't block that learning, at least. And, hopefully, we enhance it and further that learning.

Seven Vinton: So, from these people here, some of the pathways to engineering, questioning traditional held norms, so you question what's there. And they're the students that some people see as the trouble makers, the ones that are questioning all the time, the ones that are pushing the boundaries a little bit, the rebels.

Seven Vinton: In my classes, they're the ones I always look for, the ones who think outside of the box. Seeing learning is not something that has to be done, but as a means to investigate the thing that sparks that passion or curiosity, and a spirit of adventure and willingness to experience failure. So, that's a really important one. I see with my students if they are not afraid to make mistakes, they learn a lot faster and they become better engineers.

Peter Dalmaris: So, Seven, to jump in here, in your classroom, you know, the unruly student is very often the kind of student that teachers don't really like to have in the classroom, traditionally, at least. But what you're saying is you're actually looking specifically for that kind of student that doesn't quite fit, because that, to you, is an indicator of something perhaps really amazing that is brewing in that brain.

Seven Vinton: Yeah. Exactly. And I always say, the best tool that I have is the question. And I look for students who ask questions. So, I teach both engineering and the arts as well, and I say to my students, "Don't take what I say as being the gospel truth. Question me. Challenge me." That's what I'm looking for, someone to challenge what I'm saying, so then I have to reevaluate what I'm saying, and test it as being true against that question. And that's the way we always should proceed.

Seven Vinton: So, we're talking about the ability to apply logic and reasoning. So, ability to use deductive, inductive, and abductive reasoning, and use observation to make those informed decisions. So, these are used to form the basis of our thinking for that ability to predict or hypothesize about what might happen or why it's happening.

Seven Vinton: Now, say with you, Peter, you do a lot of tinkering yourself at home. You fly quadcopters, and an aircraft, and that kind of thing, a model aircraft. If I had built myself a quadcopter and I presented it to you, you would be able to look at it and know what the chances are that that thing is going to fly. Now, why is that? Why can you do that?

Peter Dalmaris: I guess it's the combination of experience and knowledge of knowing how a flying machine should be configured, kind of components and the configuration that goes in it. And I would also take into account your flying skills, because I know for myself that once you have a machine, then the operator is the next most important thing. And very often a good machine will fail because of the operator. And I've seen that with me very often. We had amazing crashes.

Seven Vinton: That's why I will get you to try and fly it first. But you have all that background knowledge, and so you're able to make that prediction based on your observation, your background knowledge of what experience you've had before, the trials and error that you have had before.

Seven Vinton: But we sometimes forget that students don't have that background knowledge. And so, it's about trying to build up that background knowledge for them so that they can make those predictions. So, to become good at making predictions, you have to be able to tap into that back history of the trial and error. So, it's giving the students more opportunity for trial and error. But we're very time poor, so we have to be able to maximize that time.

Seven Vinton: So, these are some of the projects that I'm currently working on with my Year 10 group. So, we've got the Sorting Machine up the top there, Spider Bot, and the Flying Wing. And when you look at these projects here, some have complicated electronics. The Flying Wing actually is very, very simple electronics. But the actual construction of them is what is quite complicated.

Seven Vinton: So, when we think about the time that is used up in different stages, so we have this here where we have the different stages of the engineering process. And the priority, because you want to spend more time in that higher order thinking area. So, when we have like the balloons taxonomy with the creative up the top, that's the priority of what you want to happen. So, you'd say, "Well, I want to spend more time here, less time in this area."

Seven Vinton: But in reality, when you actually start working through the projects with students, you end up with a different match. So, the time taken does not actually match up with your priority area.

Seven Vinton: So, this is like a typical woodwork room. This is not my fabrication room at my school, but this is what they look like. And if you walked into any of these spaces, you might get a flashback to what school was like when you went to school. Like, I certainly did, it was the same when I went to school. So, they haven't actually changed much since the 1970s. So, they are using the same tools and things.

Seven Vinton: So, we're starting to see that change now. But there's a big inequity in the school environment, where schools have not been given funds to update their fabrication facilities, and that is a big mismatch with what is actually happening in the real world. So, you walk into a modern wood fabrication factory now, and it would look very different than it did in the 1970s. And yet in schools, not much has changed.

Seven Vinton: So, here, we have our mapping of the same stages with the time taken. So, if this is around about a ten-week process for a project, so you can see here we spent a lot of time working on that actual production, so the fabrication of the thing. And it's probably likely to be even more than four weeks for some projects. So, what will happen is you'll try and get the research done fairly quickly so that the design stage can have enough time.

Seven Vinton: But then, things get really bogged down in that plan and production stage, especially on production stage. And that's not where we want to spend the bulk of our time because what gets squeezed out is our evaluation and testing stage, and this is a really important one for students to understand why something is working or not working and then how to make improvements. So, we want to try and spend more time here.

Seven Vinton: Now, in terms of funding, school funding, government funding, you would think, "Well, all right, these are important areas." So, design, modeling, evaluating, reviewing, they are our priority areas. That's where we should put the money. Put the money into those areas because they're the priority areas. But the thing is that it makes more sense and you get more bang for your buck if you put the money there to shortcut that time so that you can spend more time.

Seven Vinton: Because time is the thing that makes the difference, so if we can steal some of this time from here and put it into here, then we are going to make a big difference for those students.

Peter Dalmaris: Seven, sorry to interrupt you, but I think this is very interesting point. If you could go back to the previous slide with the list. Yeah, I find from my work and when I'm creating a new course, for example, or I'm tinkering on a new gadget, I find that a lot of the time that I spent tends to have types of activities that overlap with other types of activities.

Peter Dalmaris: So, for example, a maze that's producing a circuit and at the same time tested, and then diagnosed problems, and go back and continue and actually redo the production, fix the problem. So, there is quite a bit of an overlap, especially in those three top rows design, modeling, test, and then planning.

Peter Dalmaris: Usually, I do my research, it might take, say, a week for a new gadget or for a new course. And I typically don't repeat that. But the rest tend to overlap a lot. Is that something that you see as well? I'm wondering if you're trying to create an ideal situation here with this list? Again, the reality might be a little different where you [inaudible]?

Seven Vinton: Exactly like that. And I mean, I put it in list form there because it's easy to see.

Peter Dalmaris: Identify it, yeah.

Seven Vinton: I mean, the engineering process is very much back and forth. But your point that you made there about that back and forth and being able to test and then go back, this is kind of what I'm getting at here is that, to have testing, diagnosing the procedures that are easy to tap into, so, therefore, you can go back and forth.

Seven Vinton: So, what we've had previously is, if you think about a Flying Wing, or anything, really, like, a claw machine or something like that, in order to test it, you have to go through this part first a lot of the time. So, what I'm trying to do is to shortcut that so that you can test and diagnose even before you get to that stage. So, that by the time you get to that stage, you've got all that back knowledge. You're able to predict whether this thing is going to work or not. And you save yourself a lot of time.

Seven Vinton: So, this is one of the tools that's coming in to a lot of schools now. But at the moment, it's not a level playing field. So, some schools do have them and some don't, the have and the have nots.

Peter Dalmaris: Seven, what kind of challenge this that we're looking at?

Seven Vinton: A laser cutter.

Peter Dalmaris: A laser cutter, so it cuts plywood and things like that, right?

Seven Vinton: Plywood, plastics.

Peter Dalmaris: Metal even?

Seven Vinton: The metal ones are quite expensive. So, the ones that can cut through up to, about, 10 mil thick plywood, Perspex, that kind of thing. So, not every school has one of these at the moment. And it's a bit like photocopiers for schools. You know, photocopiers kind of revolutionized schools in some way because the teachers were able to get the resources out to students a lot faster. So, actually, it's short cut the teacher's workload a lot and that saved time.

Seven Vinton: Now, this is one of those moments in history where we can save time. We've had 3D printers and things like that, often they're quite time consuming as well. You have to wait quite a while. This thing is very fast. And what we've been seeing in some cases is a bit of a phenomenon that we had with 3D printers, where you download a model from the internet, you print it off, you go and show people, and they would be all, "Wow. That's fantastic." And you get the pats on the back. And it's like, well, you didn't actually do anything. It was the printer that did the work.

Seven Vinton: And we see things, like this picture here ,where it looks amazing and you get these oohs and ahs, and that's amazing, that school is doing all that work. Well, if we've downloaded the patent from the internet and you printed it off, any school in the world that has one of these printers can do that. So, we're not actually furthering that knowledge by doing just that. That's why it's not a level playing field.

Seven Vinton: And this is one of the areas where I think governments can help to get more of these out to change that fabrication facilities in schools to have that part of the learning, short cut it, and done a lot faster.

Seven Vinton: So, things like this here, so this is from one of my classes where I've got a gaming console and this is part of the vending machine. Things like this on a laser cutter will take around, about, less than five minutes, maybe a minute or something. So, you've got a minute and it's done. And then, the student can go and put it together. So, saving all that time. If they had to cut this out by hand, you're looking at hours, days, weeks.

Peter Dalmaris: Yeah. I think I understand. I think your argument here is that fabrication time should be shortened as much as possible. So, it makes sense for whatever funding is coming to schools from to fund that part in order to speed it up, so then students and teachers have got more time to concentrate on higher order thinking like the design, perhaps, instead of just copying out design from the internet to create an original design, to learn the tools of design, and things of that sort. It makes sense.

Seven Vinton: Yeah. Exactly. And this is not rocket science. This is what we're seeing in the real world. This is what we're seeing with fabrication in the industry. This part is done by machines now. And schools need to catch up with what's happening in the real world. But we've got a funding shortfall in those areas, in the fabrication areas. So, we've seen changes in schools in a lot of different areas, but the fabrication side has been one area that has been fairly slow to catch up.

Seven Vinton: So, just going on to the Flying Wing project. So, this was something that was started a couple of years ago, but it's been developed more this year and last year with the use of Fusion 360.

Seven Vinton: Now, Peter, you would have used 3D CAD programs before sometimes, like the Autodesk. Our school has been using Autodesk Inventor for probably, about, I don't know, 15 years or something like that. So, we've got a long history with it. But there was a lot of trainings that had to occur before a student was able to create something like this.

Seven Vinton: Now, with Fusion 360, they have made it very intuitive. It's made it into one of my top programs because of its intuitive nature. I love programs that are intuitive and easy to use. So, I've been using this only, probably, since about midway through last year. I did one tutorial from YouTube, and then I was teaching to my class the next day, because it was so intuitive.

Peter Dalmaris: So, the learning curve was very short, which, again, means that you can move on to some more useful use for your time, like higher thinking times for you instead of trying to learn the tool [inaudible].

Seven Vinton: Yeah. Exactly. So, these are some of the designs from the students from this year. So, we look at flight and how and why things fly, so the science side of flying, looking at splines and how they work.

Seven Vinton: And before I go on today, I'll just exit out of there and go into Fusion. So, I'll just walk through this. So, on the internet, you can download these splines. So, there's splines that have been tested to work, so you basically just download the coordinates there, and then you can bring them into your CAD program. So, we have that spline there, and then we extrude that format. Sorry. I'll go back a bit. I skipped ahead too far.

Peter Dalmaris: That's another nice feature of Fusion 360, the timeline can see how you actually designed it over time.

Seven Vinton: So, extrude out our form, scale it up, trim our wing down, and then put our ailerons on. And then, mirror that. So, it's a very quick process. So, a student can put this together, like, in a one hour session quite easily. And this has been something that has inspired even the most disengaged youth. Once we start working on something like this, like that whole kind of idea of flight with the Wright Brothers, the ability to fly really sparks the imagination of some students, and they get right into this project.

Seven Vinton: So, the shortcutting once again of that whole design process. And then, from here, it's about testing could that actually fly. Because the first thing you would want to do with that is to take it out and get it to fly. But there's a big step between actually taking this three dimensional computer generated model and putting it into the sky, a big lot of time as well.

Seven Vinton: So, looking at ways that we can test that without actually making it and putting it into the air physically. So, just going back to here, looking at testing ways for the aerodynamics of the wing. At the moment, this is an area that we're developing but haven't quite got yet. So, this type of testing is quite difficult to do.

Seven Vinton: Like, building a wind tunnel is very tricky. It's something that we're looking into actually physically building a wind tunnel. And there are online programs that you can use. So, I'm currently working with a PhD engineer student that is teaching at the Geelong Tech School. So, we're working on this project together. So, he's helping me through the process of online wind tunnel testing. So then, we can put those splines into the wind tunnel and see what the wind profile is doing, whether we're getting dragged on it where the lift is, and makes predictions about whether that will fly or not.

Peter Dalmaris: And how do you manufacture the wind, Seven?

Seven Vinton: Yeah. So, I'm going to get to that very soon. But just before we get to that part, too, so we got a frame for the wing. We're looking at stress testing on it too. Like just in terms of normal loads that might be applied, say, when it's on the ground, when it's in the air, if somebody leans on it or steps on it, or something like that.

Seven Vinton: So, I'll just hop across to Fusion again. So, here, in Fusion, you can do your simulation for stress. So, we have our wind profile. So, this would be the frame that carries these splines. And I put a load on each side and fix the point in the middle just to see what force that can take. So, here we're looking at the safety factor.

Seven Vinton: So, a safety factor, we can see here that in the middle, we are not meeting the minimum safety factor. So, if we had the load here - now, I've got 100 Newtons load on each side, which is a fair bit of weight. Probably in real life, it wouldn't take that much weight anyway - we can see we've got the stress points here. So, if I switch this to actual stress, well, you can see we don't have a breaking point on that stress yet. But on our safety factor, there are some areas there that we would need to be concerned about.

Seven Vinton: And the point with this is, if you're going to put something into the air, you want it to be as light as possible. So, if we're making this out of, say, 6 mil MDF board, then we might want to take out some of that weight. So, you can see where the lighter material is and where you need to be a bit more careful. So, we might take some weight out of here, but we're going to leave those parts alone.

Seven Vinton: So, allowing the student that information so they can make predictions about what might happen in those cases and then determine what their design should be.

Seven Vinton: So, just heading back into that one there.

Peter Dalmaris: You're using simulation then to make a prediction. So, basically, mathematics in the background, which you use to figure out how to improve your mechanical design.

Seven Vinton: Yeah. Exactly. So, in that simulation, yeah, it informs the design so you get better designs. Now, the next step would be to actually then test that in real life.

Seven Vinton: So, I'm just going to skip across the one slide here. So, this one here is a test that we're setting up for engineering students at the moment. So, this is just using a shelf bracket. So, just like a shelving bracket you might find in Bunnings or somewhere like that. And the idea is that we have a shelf bracket template and give it to the students and get them to test stress on that template. And then, we say, "Well, you need to come up with the lightest shelf bracket that can hold that weight." So, that is the challenge. So, during the engineering session, they need to go away and redesign that shelf bracket to take those stresses.

Seven Vinton: So, if I come across back to here again, we have our shelf bracket here and we can see with the full shelf bracket, this is stress points. I don't know what my load is on, on here. We have got 100 Newtons again load. And we've got a fixed point on this site. And we can see our stress point, so we can see we're going to stress across the top and stress particularly on that point there. I mean, our points of least stress are in this area here.

Seven Vinton: So, in terms of taking out that light material, well, we would want to concentrate in this area here. So, going back to our design, we might then decide we're going to take a bit of material out here. And we might just take a few bits out in here. And I'll take a little bit out here and a little bit out here. So, we'll just extrude those areas through like that, so there's our new shelf. And then, now we can immediately test that to see whether that is going to take that away.

Peter Dalmaris: So, is that the simulation, again?

Seven Vinton: We just have to generate our mesh again for the new design.

Peter Dalmaris: Does it matter what kind of material you use for those kind of tests?

Seven Vinton: You can actually state the material. So, I've put this as MDF board. So, you can choose from a long list of built-in materials, aluminum, steel.

Peter Dalmaris: You're not using a supercomputer, right? It's just a regular -

Seven Vinton: Yeah. This is just a regular computer. You can get education licenses and get free Cloud credits as well, so you can install it on the computers. But this one doesn't take too long.

Peter Dalmaris: Yeah. But I just commented that because a couple of decades ago, maybe even ten years ago, this would require a fairly beefy computer to do the simulation.

Seven Vinton: Yeah. I think this computer that I'm working on at the moment, it's 8GB RAM.

Seven Vinton: So, we can see that's already done. And there is our stress points now. So, we can see we've got our stress point now is on this side, that's where most likely breaking point is. Let me go to our safety factor, we can see that it changed quite a bit.

Peter Dalmaris: It's very intuitive. Like, I haven't used this kind of feature in Fusion 360 before, but I can read the diagram based on the colors. It's very intuitive, as you said.

Seven Vinton: Yeah. So, you can see with something like this, even before the manufacturing stage, they're making really informed decisions about how this thing is going to behave in real life. Now, what you would immediately want to do at this point is say, "Well, is that actually going to happen that way in real life?" So, what we're currently working on at the tech school is building a rig whereby you can get this shelf bracket, put it in, and put a load on it to actually simulate it in real life as well, and then match the two together. So, that also fills in that back knowledge of, Did my simulation behave the same way in real life?

Peter Dalmaris: Yeah. So, if I understand right, what you're doing is to manufacture the part, and then apply a real 100 Newton force at that exact location towards the edge and see if the real thing behaves the way that the simulated thing behaved. And then, you'll be able to connect simulation with real world, and that builds on the students experience so they can make then new predictions going forward based on that new information.

Seven Vinton: Yeah. So, with each one of those tests, the knowledge base gets broader and broader. And the ability to predict gets better and better. And then, you would question the student before they simulate the test. What do you think is going to happen in this case? And then, they should be able to make good predictions. So, they should be able to say, "Well, I think the stress point is going to be on this point here."

Seven Vinton: And then, you know that you're getting that build up of knowledge and you build in those skills, those prediction skills, if they're able to predict before their test, and accurately predict what might happen.

Seven Vinton: So, now, going back to this other slide here, you asked me about the fabrication stage. Now, this is where we would take the most time. If you think about those splines, cutting out each one of those splines, imagine if you had to do that on a scroll saw or a band saw, it would take a long time. There would be a lot of mistakes. It would take weeks really to get that right.

Seven Vinton: Now, with Fusion 360, that has - what do you call it? - a third party product that it uses called Slicer. So, you can take any of your designs, like the wing, and you can then send it to Slicer on Fusion.

Seven Vinton: So, I'll just open up one of those wings.

Peter Dalmaris: Slicer are given to schools the same licensing agreement as with Fusion 360 in terms of what you can use it for?

Seven Vinton: Slicer falls under your education license for Fusion. The only annoying thing that Slicer does is that when you open Slicer, it logs you out of Fusion 360. Then, you have to log back into it. It's one of the annoying things.

Seven Vinton: But here, we see we've got our model and we can slice it into slices. So, what this will do is give us our slices automatically so you can choose how many slices you want and the direction of the slices. Now, in terms of direction, this is the most difficult thing to master. So, you can see here on this actual model, there's a little mistake in the middle. So, when it imported the file, for some reason, it didn't like this middle section.

Peter Dalmaris: So, it's like it's cut out a part of the wing.

Seven Vinton: Yeah. So, what I had to do with that part is, once I exported the DXF files in Illustrator, is just patch that back up again. But it saves a lot of time in building that up for you. And you can see over here, it'll give you the layout. So, you put your layout size, the size sheet you're going to use for your laser cutter, and it will lay that out for you.

Peter Dalmaris: It's amazing.

Seven Vinton: It does a reasonable job. You can see, like, this is our second slice. And if I was doing it, I would actually put those slices just in here.

Peter Dalmaris: You could fit it.

Seven Vinton: You could fit them in. And that's what I do when I export the DXF files, just copy them across and make it a bit more -

Peter Dalmaris: A bit of material goes to waste.

Seven Vinton: It doesn't do a bad job. And the good thing it does when you get assembly steps, so here we can see this one, you can choose your material, cardboard, plywood, plastic. So, here we have the full assembly, but you can then get your assembly steps so you can go like a jigsaw puzzle, basically. And it will tell you which piece, so it numbers the pieces, the parts, and you can step that through.

Peter Dalmaris: And the process depends on the material. What would it look like if you used plywood?

Seven Vinton: It's fairly much the same because it's the same thickness. But you can set your thickness of your material. So, the latest model we did was using foam board, which is 5 mil thick. We're looking at using foam sheet, which is, I think, 20 mil thick. So, it will adjust the cuts for you. So, what we do for that is cut one out with, like, a 5 mil and one with a 20 mil, so that one fits into the other. So, just to make sure that we've got a strong main frame and then as light as possible bands there.

Seven Vinton: But you can also choose your different slicing technique as well. So, you can have, like, stack slices. So, stack slice is like this. So, if you're cutting with foam, you might want to just do foam and stick them together, then you would just stack them all together, like glue them along side by side, or you could stack the other way if you wanted to. So, there's a whole lot of different ways you could do that.

Seven Vinton: But the thing is that the short cutting is actually all of this. So, you don't have to generate all of this on your CAD program yourself. And then, if you've got a laser cutter, you can send it to the laser cutter. So, that would take half-an-hour rather than how many weeks. Like, if I was getting a student to do this, I would be looking at, at least, three weeks, at least.

Peter Dalmaris: So, this project would really not be possible in practical terms in a school, but now it is with these tools.

Seven Vinton: Yeah. Exactly. So, that really made the difference for us in terms of getting this to that stage. Now, also, that pretest that we talked about as well, you've already done a whole lot of those trial and error. Make sure your design is strong enough. Look at how it's going to act in the air. So, before you get to this point where you're manufacturing it, you're fairly confident that it's going to work.

Seven Vinton: Rather than the old fashioned way is build it, try it. If it doesn't work, then you have to go back again. Now, in that case, how much time do you have left for testing and evaluating? Very, very little. So, this one is just opening up and giving a whole lot more time to that.

Peter Dalmaris: I remember, like, ten years ago, in university, especially, we had university projects where a lot of the time would be spent trying to make something that would work. And the last week would come and the thing would still not work. So, the report at the end would say, "The results of the tests are inconclusive. We needed more time." The standard ending of any project.

Seven Vinton: Yeah. Well, that's what I say all the time is that, the students get to that stage, there's maybe a week or two left, and they have to rush through those tests. They don't do a thorough job. They only get half the testing, though they would normally would want to get it done. And the evaluation is really rushed. So, this approach will, hopefully, net a whole lot more time.

Peter Dalmaris: And you allow the students to conclude with the learnings instead of just, "It kind of work, but I'm not sure." Like, I guess imagine how proud the kids would be having this wing actually fly instead of having to stop at the design stage because the manufacturer will take too long. And then, testing would just never happen because manufacturing didn't happen. So, you always need some budding question, "Would I have been able to do it anyway?" But, now, they know the answer. Yes.

Seven Vinton: Yeah. And if it went to the flying stage and didn't work, well, they've got time to make another one because the manufacturing stage is so short. And that would not be possible using the traditional manufacturing tools.

Seven Vinton: So, just in terms of where I'm going next with this, so I'm continuing to build that relationship with the tech school. So, the tech school has been a bit of a catalyst for this because I have like-minded people to work with. I have access to this machinery and equipment.

Seven Vinton: As far as government initiatives has gone, the tech school has been a big winner, I think. Not every region has them yet, but, hopefully, they will expand that into other regions. Because what it's meant for us, because we are in our transition stage from going from our old campus to our new campus, and we haven't really been funded well for the last ten years, so we can't afford that equipment. But I can go in and use this equipment at tech school whenever I want to now. So, that's been a real game changer for us.

Seven Vinton: Lachlan Patrick is the PhD student I was talking about before. He has actually built a Skills Builder Course, I'll share on the link section for this talk, and that is a complete course in the Fusion 360. It tells you how to do the testing, simulations, how do you use Slicer. It is a full complete course. So, anybody that views this talk can go and get all of those resources there.

Seven Vinton: Working on partnerships, building partnerships with Avalon Airport, the engineering companies out there for student mentors. And they could probably help us with the wind tunnel testing and the understanding of the actual science behind flight. So, that's something that we're embarking on very soon.

Seven Vinton: We have in this region an engineering group. So, we've got our teachers engineering group that meet once a term to organize events and things like that, and workshops and guest lecturers through the tech school. And the other thing is competition. So, there's a competition I've got running at the moment, which is utilizing this Skill Builder Course, and building on that knowledge.

Seven Vinton: Now, you know, like this is probably one of the most interesting periods in time that a lot of us have been through. Like, we haven't been through this before, and we've had to make these massive changes very, very quickly. So, the ability to adapt, and this is something that I'm always trying to do with my students, too, is to get them to feel comfortable about adapting to new environments, new ways of doing things. So, building that resilience in.

Seven Vinton: So, the COVID-19 thing, it's like, you know, when you think about inventions and new ways of doing things, you kind of reach a point in history where you think, "Oh, everything's already done. There's hardly any niches available now. Every time I think of a new idea, somebody is already there." But now it's like a big storms come through and it washed off all those rocks and all the sea creatures have been washed off the rocks. There's all these niches there.

Seven Vinton: So, this pandemic has really opened up a whole lot of opportunities for people. So, this design challenge that I've put out to our region is about designing a face mask. Just to look at the existing models and to try and come up with a better idea, just to promote that whole notion that sometimes you have, and that, actually, very often you have innovation come from adversity in the challenging situation. So, they're the things that I'm currently working on now.

Peter Dalmaris: I can see you're busy. Perfect. Thank you. That was amazing, Seven. I think it was a really good, informative presentation because it was both practical, but you also covered the why quite a bit. You explained why this is important.

Peter Dalmaris: And with highlighting the tools that are available in schools these days today means that a lot of very complex projects, which were impossible just a few years ago, are now well within the means of a public school. So, thank you for that.

Peter Dalmaris: Maybe to conclude, I'll ask you to give some advice to attendees, teachers that are watching this, you know, not everyone might be interested in aviation or building something that flies, it could be many other projects. Could you give us a couple of ideas of alternative projects that will still get students to go through the same kind of process, but maybe using a different topic to work on?

Seven Vinton: Okay. So, I mean, in a lot of cases, it depends on the teacher's skillset. Like you would know, there's so many things out there that you can tap into. And some of my best resources are Instructables, just on YouTube. Youtube is such a good starting point for getting ideas as well.

Seven Vinton: What I would say that's really helped me along like is that having that tech school there. But if you haven't got a tech school, form a partnership with other schools. The more you work with other people, the easier it becomes because you all have different skillsets. So, you can combine that knowledge together and it acts like a catalyst for you because you're bouncing ideas off each other.

Seven Vinton: And like every time I go into the tech school, I'm just bouncing these ideas around, and so many different projects have come out of that so far. You really need someone to talk to about it. You can't do it alone. If you're doing it alone, you're just kind of struggling through it. The best thing to do is just share it with somebody else. So, forming those partnerships with somebody so that you're bouncing those ideas around. So, that's one of the most important things.

Seven Vinton: The projects, depending on your knowledge of programing and things like that, you know, I have a project that's like a mechanical claw - that's quite a good one to do - using servo motors. Something like that is quite simple. I would just start off small and build up. So, using an Arduino servo motor is a good way to start, good way to get into that.

Seven Vinton: And I'll put some other links of my favorite sites. There's one that I use constantly, and that's where the sorting machine came from and the vending machine. How To Mechatronics, one of my all time favorite YouTubers and sharers of knowledge on the internet. So, that's what I do.

Seven Vinton: I don't restrict my students. I say, "What do you want to build? Go off, do some research." So, I'll give them a research template and they'll come up with some ideas. And then, we'll discuss those together and decide on what project best suits their learning level and what's going to give them the best challenge for that unit. And, often, I will not have knowledge for that project.

Seven Vinton: And I kind of like it that way because this is something that I really kind of try to adhere to all the time, is that, with teachers, they don't like that silence, they don't like that pause. When students are sitting there not doing much, but they're thinking, they tend to interfere too much. So, I try to make that happen more.

Seven Vinton: And so, what I'll do is I'll encourage them to make projects that I have got no idea how to do. Because then, I'm forced to take a back seat and then I'm forced to learn it myself. So, it expands my knowledge, but then I can't interfere too much, or I pretend that I don't know.

Peter Dalmaris: I see an additional benefit to that, Seven, and that is that it's interesting for you. There's nothing worse, at least I know in my experience, of doing the same project for the tenth time as a teacher. It's like, "I can't do this anymore." So, having someone write it is good for the teacher as well.

Seven Vinton: Yeah. It keeps me fresh. It keeps me interested. But this is the thing, too, you have to be comfortable as a teacher heading into that unknown as well. And this is where those partnerships come in, is that, well, maybe I don't know, but one of the people I'm in partnership with does know the answer.

Seven Vinton: And then, it can become a bit of a communal project as well. You know, you have your students that are maybe coming along with me to the tech school to talk to other teachers or other mentors there. So, it becomes a richer learning experience as well.

Peter Dalmaris: Perfect. I'll just summarize it because I find that those lessons are very important to take away at the end of your presentation.

Peter Dalmaris: So, what teachers can do to find projects that will allow them to take the students through this engineering process for critical thinking and for prediction based on simulation is, first of all, look around the internet for inspiration. And there's a lot of inspiration out there, projects in particular. YouTube and Instructables are good sources. Talk to other people, teachers and your students, of course. Talk through your ideas and ask for input. And start small and grow big.

Seven Vinton: Particularly in smaller towns, there are companies that really want to get involved with schools. When the tech school started up and they went looking for partnerships, they were overwhelmed with the amount of industries that wanted to be involved with that, because they know that they have a role in educating students as well. So, they want to be part of that. So, teachers can look for those partnerships in their local communities.

Peter Dalmaris: Don't be afraid to involve industry in your hometown, in your area, like your geographical area. I think you're really spot on about that, a lot of companies that I know as well tend to have the doors open to teachers and will accommodate them.

Peter Dalmaris: So, thank you, Seven. That was an amazing presentation. I really appreciate you taking the time and making the effort to do this for us.

Seven Vinton: Thank you, Peter.

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