On the top: my research document. Click here to visit the page.
Below: These are just a few of the sketches and blueprints I made for this project.
What is your topic and why did you choose it?
I chose to make a model of the maglev (magnetic levitation) train. I chose it because recently I went to Shanghai and I saw the maglev train, so I was inspired to discover how the train levitates and works. I’ve always wondered how the concept of magnetism and electricity works, so when I saw the maglev, I seized it as an opportunity to learn about both.
Describe your experience so far: What challenges have you faced? Did you overcome those challenges?
There were many challenges I faced so far. When I first began planning and researching about the maglev, I thought that I could be able to build a simple model first and then move on to do the electromagnetic one, possibly even attempting the superconducting train. But when I gathered my materials, I realised that I couldn’t even get past step one, which was to build the simple model. The reason was because I bought the type of magnets that are really strong yet physically weak. Whenever I let two magnets sit alone with a reasonable distance from each other, the two would fly towards each other, and when this happened too many times, the magnets themselves would crack under the impact of the collision. I also couldn’t manage to get the train to float without having the train flip or detach from it’s magnets.
I recently managed to overcome this challenge by making a simple one track with a vertical train. Previously, I had made the train run on two tracks and had the train be horizontal, but with the vertical train, it’s harder to flip. Now, after making a simple vertical train model, I’ve moved on to adding some changes and improving the design.
Has your project changed since the beginning? If so, how?
My project has changed greatly. In the beginning, I thought that it could be possible for me to make a superconducting train, but now, it’s barely imaginable for me to even make a electromagnetic train. This changed after I realised how hard it was even to make a simple model.
What are you proud of so far?
I’m proud of my research and how much different plans I have if one design didn’t work. I researched many types of maglev trains and went in depth to understand how each part of the maglev works, and I’m proud of that accomplishment.
Do you feel creative when doing SML? If so, what are the conditions that help you to be creative?
I wouldn’t exactly use the term creative to describe SML. The only time I had to use some creativity in SML was thinking of my topic, but aside from that, SML to me more about resilience and time management.
Can you share any specific samples of your learning?
I learned a lot, including both informational and life knowledge. For example, I learned and researched a lot about superconductivity, understanding how at a certain cold temperature, a substance can react so dramatically to the cold temperature that it will expel all magnetic fields and stop showing any signs of electric resistance. I also learned not to be afraid to fail, because failure will only eliminate a few of the infinite possibilities and help bring you closer to success. I learned not to be afraid of failure, and to open my arms to help or support when failure seems taunting.
What have you learned about yourself as a learner? How do you learn best? Does the structure of SML help? Or is the structure frustrating for you?
For me, the frequent reflection questions about SML only frustrates and stresses me. This is because the questions asking about what have you learned or what have you done in SML will only force you to think of answers, and this is not my idea of creativity. Creativity to me is the freedom to think out of the box, without restrictions and boundaries. Creativity is the exploration of unknown ideas that do not require constant progress reports and reflections.