Author:
Carrie Robledo
Subject:
Engineering
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Level:
High School
Tags:
  • NCEngineers
    License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
    Language:
    English

    Education Standards

    Build a Dice Tower

    Build a Dice Tower

    Overview

    Students will start by brainstorming ideas for their tower by looking at actual examples for inspiration. Next, they design their tower on paper or by using digital tools. Another part of this process is to locate materials. Next, they will build the dice tower according to their design and test it. Finally, students redesign the tower as needed, either to fix malfunctions or to improve the existing function and aesthetics.

     

    This project is meant to be done over several class periods, potentially as a major project or even the final assignment for a design elective. It contains the entire design cycle, and numerous opportunities for students to report on their project to the teacher or their classmates in whatever way the instructor thinks best. Therefore students have many opportunities to demonstrate their learning in both formative and summative assessments

    Instructor Directions

     

    Build a Dice Tower

    Submitted by Clayton Ramsey

    Oxford Preparatory School

     

    Driving Question / ScenarioIf you play board games that use dice, you know that rolling dice on the table can cause problems:
    • The dice can crash into other game parts and move them. For example, player tokens or houses/hotels in Monopoly. It can be tough to put the board back the way it was.
    • The dice can roll off the table onto the floor. Then arguments can start about whether to re-roll and the dice may be hard to find.
    In either case, the game is delayed and the activity is less fun.Can we make something that solves these problems? One solution is what people call a “dice tower”. In this project students will design, build, test, and redesign their own version of this device.Note: This is a well known item in tabletop gaming culture, so much so that a notable media brand is named for it. Having students design for a solved problem is meant to provide scaffolding on the problem.
    Project SummaryStudents will start by brainstorming ideas for their tower by looking at actual examples for inspiration. Next, they design their tower on paper or by using digital tools. Another part of this process is to locate materials. Next, they will build the dice tower according to their design and test it. Finally, students redesign the tower as needed, either to fix malfunctions or to improve the existing function and aesthetics.This project is meant to be done over several class periods, potentially as a major project or even the final assignment for a design elective. It contains the entire design cycle, and numerous opportunities for students to report on their project to the teacher or their classmates in whatever way the instructor thinks best. Therefore students have many opportunities to demonstrate their learning in both formative and summative assessments.
    Estimated Time10  - 20 hours
    Materials / ResourcesThe materials may vary according to the resources available to the student and school. It is possible to build a successful project in a variety of ways. Different students or teams in the same class may approach the project with different materials. Alternatively, a teacher may elect to specify which materials are to be used if that is appropriate to their needs and situation.For example:
    • Household items: cardboard, craft sticks, craft knife, hot glue, clear tape
    • Construction Materials: Lumber, sheet metal, plexiglass, drill, screwdriver, hammer, fastening hardware
    • Rapid Prototyping Equipment: 3D printer and filament, appropriate computers and software
    Also, various dice to test the towers with.
    Grade9-12
    Subject(s)Engineering design, Construction technology
    Educational StandardsHS-ETS1-2.Design a solution to a complex real-world problem, based on scientific knowledge, student-generated sources of evidence, prioritized criteria, and trade off considerations.HS-ETS1-3.Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem, based on scientific knowledge, student-generated sources of evidence, prioritized criteria, and tradeoff considerations.https://www.nextgenscience.org/topic-arrangement/hsengineering-design
    Classifying ObjectiveEngineering Design
    Project Outline
    AskHow can we design and build a dice tower that will allow us to roll up to 3 dice at once, contain them so they don’t get out of control on the table, and allow the player to easily pick them up again?
    ImagineStudents or student teams will brainstorm ideas for how the tower will roll the dice internally and what materials they will use for its construction. First, they should look at the dice towers that are available online to get ideas. (The goal, however, is to design their own and put their own creativity to work.) The first round of concepts should be done on paper verbally and with simple pencil and paper sketches.Students should then choose one particular design to go forward with. They should report to the teacher on what they are planning to do by writing a short progress report containing a simple verbal description of their concept and a basic sketch.
    PlanThe formal plan can be done with a 3D modeling software package such as TinkerCAD or with other forms of technical writing and drawing. This will depend on the knowledge of the instructor and the particular focus of the class. However, the goal is to guide students toward producing a plan that they or others could work from and produce the same result.Note: Instructors should consider using TinkerCAD for the plan even if there is not a 3D printer available, because it is straightforward to learn and having some exposure to CAD is valuable for students in an engineering or design class.Particularly important here is have the students inventory the materials and begin thinking economically about the project. Of course, the exact materials students will use depends on your population, but having them ask and answer questions such as “What materials will I use?” “Where will my materials come from?” “Why am I choosing the materials I am?” and “How much will the materials cost?” is a crucial step of the process.Students should submit at least one, and more likely 2-3 progress reports to the instructor during this phase of the project.
    CreateMake it very clear to students that this is a prototype. For 3D printed designs, lower the resolution. For physical builds, have students use cheaper materials and have them prioritize function over decoration.At this stage, students should submit at least 1 or more progress reports. Teachers should have students stick to the plan, and try to guide them back to it when they deviate. Consider making this an element of your rubric. This prototype will need to be tested, and the results of the tests should be reported on. In particular, the design should have these properties:
    • However dice go in at the top, the process should be smooth and intuitive.
    • The dice should roll or tumble on the way down, to randomize the outcome sufficiently.
    • Dice should never get stuck inside the tower.
    • Nor should the dice fall out too soon.
    • The dice should always land in a place where they are contained, readable, and easy to remove with one hand.
    ImproveDepending on the results of the testing, this step will vary for students or teams. If the tower performs acceptably, students will need to create a new version of it with higher print resolution, more refined construction, a more attractive look, or better materials.If it does not, then students will have to diagnose the problem, redesign it, and build another version to test.
    Closure / Student ReflectionsStudents should be keeping records of everything they do on this project, using an engineering notebook or an appropriate digital tool. They should use this, along with their progress reports, to write a final report in the style of an academic paper, appropriate to age.It should be broken into several assignments, either by section or as a series of increasingly refined drafts.For example, it might have the following sections:
    1. Introduction. Students will discuss the purpose of the project.
    2. Methods. Students describe how they designed and built the tower, by providing details of their materials sourcing, design choices, and assembly process..
    3. Results. Students share details of how the prototype performed and how this performance was used to make decisions about the redesign.
    4. Conclusion. Students discuss the performance of the improved tower and share pictures of their project.
    It is useful to use Google Documents for this process because the commenting function lets the instructor give students constructive feedback on the paper. Also, students in a team can collaboratively edit their paper.
    Possible Modifications / ExtensionsTeachers with experience teaching art could make the aesthetics of the design a factor in the assessment. For example, require the students to make the tower look like a real castle.Require the tower to have moving parts in some way.Require the tower to be designed such that it can be disassembled for storage.Instead of a final paper, students could create a multimedia presentation such as a video or an audio journal to document their process and report their results.Students with enough media skills could do this as a vlog series or podcast.