Pencil Transporter Gizmo

Due Tuesday April 3

You have landed in an alternate universe where the people are small and the landscape is strange. The rivers run with hydrochloric acid. The surface of the planet is covered with cliffs that look like books to you. The inhabitants use #2 pencils as their primary building material.

When you landed, your craft destroyed the Gizmo they used to move materials across their main river. You have agreed to make a new one for them, but you have only string, rubber bands, and sheets of standard copier paper. You also have a large roll of scotch tape in your landing craft that you can use to make the Gizmo.

You need to build a new Gizmo that transports pencils across the river, which is one foot wide. Because the river is hydrochloric acid, you need to keep the pencil at least 3 inches above the surface. The inhabitants would like it if the pencils were deposited on the other side of the river rather than having to be unloaded from the Gizmo. For the original Gizmo, they had to unload the pencils one at a time and they found it very time consuming.

You are in a bit of a hurry. If they don’t have their Gizmo by next Tuesday, they have threatened to sink your craft in one of their rivers so that you will never be able to return home.

By Tuesday, you need to bring them your Gizmo and demonstrate that it can transport at least one pencil across the river.

Rules: You will load the pencil into your Gizmo just before you demonstrate your Gizmo (i.e. it can’t be built into the Gizmo). You will supply the power by pushing or pulling something, but you can’t touch the structure once the pencil is loaded.

Facts to consider:

  • Your Gizmo must be free standing. It cannot be taped to the landscape in any way. You will come up, set your Gizmo down, load the pencil(s), provide the power, and watch your pencil(s) land gently on the other side of the river.
  • The cliff closest to the river on the launch side is 6″ high; the cliff onĀ  the far side is 2″ high.
  • The inhabitants have motors, so they will be able to continue to use your Gizmo after you have left for home. You should design and build a Gizmo that is meant to last.
  • Their building materials are unsharpened, full size, #2 pencils with erasers.
  • The inhabitants have a strong esthetic sense and they will not accept an ugly Gizmo in their landscape.
  • The inhabitants are small, and they are very protective of their children (who are even smaller). So they will not accept a Gizmo that catapults pencils or otherwise endangers their children.

Check the grading criteria here.