February 1, 2018

Our main focus of January was to prepare for the Sierra club event and Mid-Grant Technical Review which both take place in February (the 8th and 28th, respectively). We hope to get feedback from both presentations in order to improve our project before EurekaFest in June. Each subteam also had important goals to tackle throughout the month. The Tech Team’s focus was to complete the circuitry for viscometer and batteries, Communications’ focus was to promote the MGTR, Sustainability’s focus was to obtain the SolidWorks certification, and Fundraising’s focus was to garner more donations.

The Tech Team began to meet on Saturdays for several hours at a time to work on the mechanical and electrical components of the invention, the viscometer being the most important component. We had initial problems with measuring the viscosity of different fluids (vegetable oil, water + cornstarch, distilled water) because there was no output on the multimeter we were using. We contacted Cambridge Viscosity, from which we got the viscometer from, and they sent us a manual to fix our problem. During the successive Saturday meeting, we tested the heating pads on a beaker of water, and after 10 minutes, the temperature of the water raised from 70 F to 72 F. We also tested the thermoelectric tiles’ ability to cool down and produce a current (approximately 0.170 mAmps). Finally, we constructed a new setup for the viscometer and remounted it onto a pole. We corrected the viscometer’s orientation so that the piston faced upward, attached a graduated cylinder to the piston, and siphoned vegetable oil into the graduated cylinder. However, because there was not enough pressure to force the oil into the piston, we could not get a read of the viscosity.

Also during January, we met with Leigh Estabrooks from Lemelson-MIT. We told her about our invention and showed her our progress. We asked her questions, like what her favorite EurekaFest exhibit was, and she provided us answers, feedback, and ways to improve our project. She emphasized the importance of building an easy-to-understand model for the Mid-Grant Technical Review. Some ideas we have for the project display include:

  • Printing a full-size picture of the bus (we probably can't take the real thing to EurekaFest)
  • Tabletop display of the technology in action
  • Video of components

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