Ice Cream Bucket Boombox
This project has students construct an audio amplifier system inside a one-gallon ice cream bucket. Students gain experience with soldering, drilling, circuit design and the basics of how electronic components are put together and how those components interact with each other. The curriculum accompanying this project offers additional hands-on science experiments that allow students to explore the function of individual electronic parts. One of the concepts we explore is the basic function of an amplifier. An amplifier takes a small signal input and multiplies it by a constant number. Our particular amplifier takes an input that's only strong enough to drive earbuds and multiplies it 250x. That's why our ice cream buckets sound so awesome!
This project also explores sound (sine) waves using a common cell phone app. Using the app, students watch a graph of their favorite music in real time. With the proper A/V set-up, you can project the results onto a big screen for the class to watch.
Our Boombox curriculum meets many of the Minnesota Math and Science standards in several areas and is designed to be taught in a middle-school science classroom.
This is a four-panel LED lantern with a dimming knob. One panel contains the lantern's electronics and the other three are opaque velum onto which students draw or paint their own artwork. Students experience basic woodworking by gluing a wood frame and painting it. They are also introduced to metal-working by punching holes in aluminum. They will attach strips of LED lights to the metal and solder wires to complete the circuit.
The brightness knob is the same part as would be used for volume control in our Ice Cream Bucket Boombox. Whether its controlling brightness or volume, its performing the same math function of accepting an input signal and multiplying by a constant number. When you turn the knob to the left it multiplies by zero. Turn it halfway up and it multiplies by 0.5 Turn it all the way up and it multiplies by 1.0 so you get loud music or bright light depending on how it's used.
Part of this project includes students creating their own brightness control by drawing a dark line with a soft pencil onto card stock (heavy paper). When they slide a wire along the pencil line to create a circuit, it changes a bulb from dim to bright depending on how much of the line they traverse.
The digit-counter makes mathematics tangible by empowering students to build a counter that counts from zero to nine. Students can use USB cables to daisy-chain their counters together allowing three students to count to 999 and seven students to count to a million. The counters can be set to increment at various speeds including one thousand counts per second, so getting to a million doesn't take as long as you'd think.
The group photos shows students making their "first million" using seven counters and counting by milliseconds. This was an exciting moment.
One of Tronix Team's former students (Keenan, pictured at left) got a degree in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics at the University of Sioux Falls. He is currently developing our next-generation Digit Counter project based on Arduino technology. Keenan is using CAD software to design the circuit board and he is writing the software for the embedded micro computer. Keenan's day job is working as a Software Engineer for a major financial firm in Kansas City.