- By john mataraza
- On May 27th, 2012
- In The Other Stuff
You see, it’s my birthright to completely overbuild, over-engineer, over-think, and get overly-excited about school projects. When I was in elementary school I was assigned a project to create a diorama depicting the exhilarating events of the book “Trouble River”. Most sane families helped their sons and daughters tell the story of a boy, his grandmother, and a rocking chair escape down the river on a raft from the “marauding Indians” by using an old shoe box and some combination of G.I. Joe and Star Wars action figures. Not me. No, this was just not good enough for my dad and so while my friends were bringing in old Nike shoe boxes filled with Storm Troopers – I was hauling in a full blown wooden construction complete with cut-a-way roof so you could see inside and see the little rugs, mirrors, characters… This is just one of many stories involving circuits, paper mache and chicken wire and plaster, pulleys, sanders, drills, glue, saws. Don’t even bring up the cub scout Pine Wood Derby. Fact is however, those projects are without question some of my most cherished memories of childhood and to this day I still love watching my dad figure out how to build things, and teaching me how to do it as well.
So, when my daughter came home with a school project about understanding “motion” it hit me that this was MY first chance to go completely overboard and and show my daughter this is how we do it in the Mataraza family. The assignment was to build a game that helps explain “forces”, how gravity and friction etc. impact an object in motion. Serendipitously, during this time, one of the engineers, Steve H, at my company left a copy of the magazine “Make” on the lunch table. For those not familiar with this publication, it helps show you how to build your own “stuff”. It’s a brilliant magazine, especially if you are a little geeky, and I’d encourage anybody to check it out.
Anyway, to make a long story longer, on the cover was a story about how to build your own Trebuchet. I knew right away that I was going to build this with my daughter and that we would make the game into a real life “Angry Birds”. Thus the Angry Birds trebuchet was born. After about 20 trips to home depot, strange looks from the neighbors, a wife that worried we wouldn’t finish in time – we were ready to roll this down the school. Great success, lots of fun, lots of time with my daughter teaching her how to build and use tools and such. It worked great and the kids at school all loved it – almost as much as the other parents.
Unfortunately, I didnt have the same luck getting my NextGen image gallery to work as I did building a Trebuchet. Apologies in advance for the hacked feel of these pictures.