Build Your Ride: TRIAD Week One

We’re off to a good start!

True to the class’s name, “Build Your Ride,” my Upper School students have built two working electric go-karts in just the first week of TRIAD classes. (TRIAD is the new third-term program, focused on travel, research, investigation, apprenticeships, and discovery.)

The first three days were spent jumping right on in. Without any delay, we eagerly tore open the shipments from Holland, and I was glad to hear the “oohs” and “aahs” around the room as the students lifted out the bright and shiny aluminium pieces. Each new box was full of bright red wheels, mysterious black connectors, and the team members naturally—like it was built into their engineering DNA—started sorting nuts and bolts into the containers. A place for everything and everything in its place!

We quickly settled on the right model, after comparing weight limits and design styles: the “Buster”! With four wheels, 20 Nm of torque, 153 lb capacity, and 60 minutes of battery life, it was a sure hit.

The seniors finished first on Friday, after around six hours of building. This was a good reminder that this is what TRIAD was designed for: great experiences that just wouldn’t fit into the regular schedule of the day. This would have taken weeks using ordinary class time, but with the more luxurious format was accomplished across three days.

A quick spin on the blacktop, taking time and distance measurements, and we confirmed a solid 7.3 miles per hour! James has been the main jockey so far.

Rules as masters or servants?

Now, building according to instructions is one thing. It does teach us something useful—almost any engineer I have ever spoken to says that their story began with building LEGO models as a child. When starting out in any sphere of knowledge, we follow the rules. Students are taught grammar, we rhyme our poems, we follow recipes in the kitchen. But with increasing confidence and experience, we learn how to make rules and formulas into our servants, and not the other way round.

As such, I was delighted that the seniors took my recommendations to modify their ride. They’re currently working on a sturdier seat and an extra pulley system to trade even more torque for speed. There are many problems to solve along the way, but they’re taking to it with gusto! The completely modular system lends itself entirely to this process, which is why I selected it for this course.

This week, there were two special experiences. First, we took a trip down to Oxnard on Wednesday to visit the Mullin Automotive Museum. They don’t normally open on Wednesday, but one of our parents is getting us in the door for a private tour. After building their own miniature car, the students will really appreciate this slice of automotive history! Second, we are running a Grand Prix event at the Lower School with the sixth grade class on Friday, using the two vehicles we have built. This was be a fun and friendly race complete with pit stops, crazy props, and a wonderful gift to give to the students coming up to the Middle School.

I’m so proud of the enthusiasm, great attitudes, teamwork, problem solving, and responsibility shown by all of the students in this class. It’s a rewarding and creative way to spend each afternoon.

I hear reports from other classes that students are similarly engaged and not wanting to leave when class is over. In the next blog, we will share what students are learning in cooking, art, theater, aerospace, and outdoor activity classes, plus reports from students serving internships in international countries, local health clinics, and more!

Onward and upward!

Rodney Meadth
Rodney Meadth

Middle and Upper School Principal; Engineering Academy Director; Go-Kart Builder


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