This year, as you may have read in the “Red & Gray Magazine” Fessenden has created a new extra curricular academic based program. This program is called the “QED” meaning question, explore, demonstrate. Students apply to be able to participate in the QED program, once accepted it gives them the opportunity to be able to start studying their own interests, including engineering in math, technology, science, humanities, programing and design. These are just two examples of what you can do.
Students must have good academic standing, then from there they come up with a problem to solve about something that they are passionate about. Their gaol is to solve that problem through the program. They explore their interests, and research their topic, taking down notes and processes that they may take when doing their project. They even talk to experts outside of the Fessenden Community who have devoted their lives to the field in which the student is basing their project off of. The student is then paired with an advisor, someone who will coach them throughout their process, in how to solve the problem, or the question that was created by the student. The goal of this program is to create innovative thinkers, and after working here for just about a two months, I have seen students building dirt bikes, and printing out parts, using our 3d printer to create a robotic hand. Check out these photos!
One upper school student, Griffin, has been working on his QED weekly during his free time. After hearing about the program during a school meeting, Griffin was interested in robotics, and he was also intrigued by the schools 3D printer. He decided to create a robotic hand for his project. “To get familiar with the parts and the how to power the hand, we started by making just a finger” Griffin told me. He then went into detail about the technology they were using to power the hand.
They print each part of the hand piece by piece starting with the wrist, and gradually move up to each joint of each finger. The 3D printer, using programs found by Griffin with the help of his QED advisor, can generate each body part out of plastic. Currently they have most of their parts, and have started programing the technology used in powering the hand to open and close, grasping different items. They use a “servo” to power the hand, it pulls a fishing line that is wired through each printed joint of the hand to bend the fingers. They also use an “arduino” which is the mind of the “servo”. This is basically a mini computer that stores the codes and programs which tells the “servo” what to do. Meaning the “arduino” is the piece that is programmed to make the “servo” actually pull the wire that is threaded through each joint of the hand.
As you can see from the photos, they still have some work cut out for them. Their goal is to have the hand programmed and running by the end of the school year. For now they are still testing the power of the grasp, and putting together the parts. Griffins research is now allowing him to use the 3D printer, and create technologies that no other classes can offer. Learning this much at a young age about the tools of our future helps to create more innovative thinkers, and expand the interests of our students.
Seventh grader Charlie decided to use the Fessenden resources and is now working on his own dirt bike here at school for his QED. Working in the Buildings and Grounds garage, Charlie is building his own dirt bike start to finish. “I’ve been riding dirt bikes since I was 10 for fun, and started working on my own bikes around two years later” Charlie told me. Once he heard about the endless options of the QED program, he knew what he wanted to do. So he put in the research, showed the school his passion about dirt bikes, and applied to build his own frame for his project.
He is now putting together a personalized frame with the help of his project advisor Mike Hanick who works with Buildings and Grounds, and has some expertise with motor bikes from his background.
This is just one of many options students can create or join for the QED projects. Charlie is expected to be completed with his dirt bike by early April, after starting this fall. His plan is to sell the bike to make some money for this coming summer, and donate the rest of the money to a charity that he hasn’t chosen yet.