The team was exhausted when Brian, our guide, picked us up from the airport. But it didn't take long before everyone was eating incredible food and exploring the colorful markets of Antigua. Emily had her first experience bartering for a traditional top and Alejandra bought local chocolate. The city itself is beautiful, with elaborate churches rising out from clustered, bright concrete buildings that stand out against the dark volcanoes surrounding us. Corn fields, avocado trees, and roses are grown in every available piece of land, including around Hope Haven, where we dropped our equipment off. Hope Haven has a great working space, and has generously loaned us a room to set up shop and train someone to build the standing frames. The plan is to get everything we need operational and start training tomorrow.
The house Hope Haven has let us stay in beautiful. There is a porch on the roof where Riley hung is hammock next to three others that were already there, and now there is one for each of us. We enjoyed a home-cooked dinner prepared by Lucinda, and loved eating with her and her family. This was a great chance for Emily and Riley to start practicing their Spanish and the team is excited to start working tomorrow!
The entire project was almost derailed at JFK today, but thanks to a great check-in employee from Avianca airlines, we were able to make our flight!
We knew from Scotty's past experience with Avianca that they were very particular about baggage, so Emily called before we left to confirm that everything we had prepared was correct. We had spent the entire day packing and double-checking that our four hundred pounds of donated materials was divided perfectly into fifty pound boxes. This is so that the four of us could take two boxes as free checked luggage and carry our clothes in a carry on. But when we went to check them, we were told that, despite our ticket explicitly said we could each have two, we could only take one. We were lucky to have been called up to the counter by Rita Costa, who made calls, talked to other employees and helped us get everything on board. If it wasn't for her, a thousand hours worth of work and the ability to give children the therapy they need would be lost!
Today has been wild as the team works to wrap up loose ends before heading out tomorrow. In the morning, Riley, Emily, Scotty and Alejandra finished painting on the wood sealant. After letting it dry and sanding down the rough edges to ensure that the router can easily slide through, the day’s challenge was to design a box or frame to fit all of the templates in.
Alejandra, Riley and Emily worked on building the transport box- going on a road trip to different hardware stores looking for wood with the right dimensions. Dan, a man who works in the instruments room in Thayer, was really helpful once we came back with the supplies! He brought us a chop saw and table saw, which made cutting the wood to size much easier. Riley and Dan literally built the box around the templates, making it tight and as small as possible to make it light enough to bring on the plane. And so, “Bobby the Box” was created.
Unfortunately, later in the day after trying to sand it down, we had to accept that “Bobby the Box” was overweight. So it will become a window box when the team gets back in the fall!
There was also an alumni event going on at Thayer while we were working, and we met engineers who wanted to check out our project. We even had a little guy consider trying it out himself!
Today the team spent the majority of the day working on the manual while Emily worked on writing the material for the first newsletter, which should be out soon! The engineers took a trip up to Pompanoosuc Mills to test the templates. They took the parts cut by using the templates and built an entire pediatric standing frame. All the while, the team took meticulous notes in order to document the most efficient way to assemble the stander. Everyone is looking forward to assembling them abroad!
Scotty, Riley and Alejandra also painted on the wood sealant that was donated by Hancock Lumber. This is to protect the templates from moisture damage and distortion. Finding ways to keep the Masonite from getting wet is especially important to get right before the team heads out since the first stop is Guatemala, which is in the midst of it’s rainy season. Eventually, Scotty wants to find a different material to use such as a plastic, so that water damage will be less of a concern.
Scotty left early in the morning to go to Hancock Lumber in Maine to pick up donated supplies! The trunk of the Subaru came back filled with giant boxes of screws, wheels, hinges, cotter pins and a bucket of wood sealant. Now the big challenge will be figuring out how to pack everything needed for the trip while staying within the 'checked bag' limits!
Another goal for the day was to start the instruction manual for the pediatric standers. The engineers worked on this, trying to make it as detailed and specific as possible so that anyone could follow the steps easily. Emily worked on the press release, finding news outlets and organizations to reach out to about running a story on SWM’s work and cause. This is a great opportunity for local high school students interested in seeing the world and having a positive impact since we will have similar trips in the future!
The team as a whole is getting really excited about starting the trip, and seeing the standing frames in action like with this little guy!
Today, the engineers focused on creating three finalized, complete templates to bring out of the country, cut from the Masonite donated from Dartmouth! We made a few minor changes to make the templates more durable for travel by adding more tabs, but other than that, the templates are ready to go!
The team also received an email from CIELO de Amor, a great nonprofit organization in Nicaragua that is providing classes for students with special needs. They are interested in setting up a local shop to make pediatric standing frames for their community, and so we has started reaching out to material donors in order to make this exciting opportunity a reality!
The team cut out more parts of the stander using a template today! And Riley taught Emily how to use the router. Another task checked off our list was submitting the big grant Emily and Scotty were working on. After stopping at Foggs Hardware in a torrential downpour and looking over their materials, the engineers decided to try something new for the templates by using Masonite as opposed to the birch plywood we started with. This is because Masonite is lighter and more readily available since Thayer was going to replace the Masonite on their tables and have decided to donate it to our cause!
Masonite is also more flexible than the birch plywood, making it less likely to break during transport, as it is made from compressed wood particles. This means that it has clean breaks if something were to go wrong, and is much easier to repair. Apparently tape and epoxy can be used to restore a straight line for the template, whereas plywood breaks unpredictably.
Riley has turned out to be a champion in the kitchen, and made everyone pancakes! Although there was a serious issue- the absence of pure Vermont maple syrup was a significant setback. However this was quickly remedied by a five-minute adventure to King Arthur Flour.
The team spent the entire day working in CAD to make minor design adjustments, ensuring that the slots on the templates are tight enough to hold the guide bushings in place while being loose enough to move easily. Emily focused on grant writing. This grant was for one hundred thousand dollars, and was a good exercise in compressing a lot of information into strict word limits. After writing about the design details and early prototypes of the standers, as well as articulating how they will benefit society as a whole- Emily is more confident in her understanding of the engineering aspect of the project.
Here is a picture of the Aspire file used to control the shop bot, the machine used to print out the templates. It takes the drawings from the design and creates a tool path. Then the templates are cut!
Riley zeroing the z-axis of the shop bot to ensure the right cuts are made!
Today was Dartmouth’s graduation, and Hanover was packed as the team struggled to find parking. Since we were at Thayer until the early hours of the morning, we slept in a little bit and refreshed ourselves by jumping into the Connecticut River. It was a gorgeous day to swim, and to test out Riley’s GoPro for the trip. But when we pulled out of the parking lot to go up the hill to Thayer, Scotty’s car completely ran out of gas. It was an eventful ten minutes of coasting back into the parking lot next to the reunion tent, calling safety and security, and thanking facilities management for donating a gallon of gas to the cause!
The team was ready to begin cutting the first template when we realized Scotty’s backpack was missing. This was an issue because we decided to store the keys to the lockers in the backpack for safekeeping. This meant that he couldn’t access the handsaw and sander over the weekend. After a thorough search, we decided to go to Home Depot to buy the tools to bring on the trip- and begin working with them now.
When they were finally able to cut out the first standing frames, Riley, Alé and Scotty noticed that the dimensions were off. After reviewing the CAD files, it was clear that it wasn’t an issue with the original designs but instead what line they selected for the shop bot to cut. Luckily this is an easy fix.
Today the team finished cutting out the first template using the shop bot and are now able to build each individual part! Emily also finalized the first press release, and everyone is ready to spread the word.
Riley, Alé and Scotty worked with different iterations for the model- improving yesterday’s designs in the process. One thing they noticed is that they will need to add more tabs in order to minimize chipping on the edges of the template. These tabs would also make the templates stronger and less likely to break from the force of the router. They needed to put pressure on the wood sections between the slots in order to prevent so much vibrating. It turned out reasonably well, although a little piece broke off because of a knot in the wood (making the team consider using a new material). The team then made the first cuts to see how the template works!