Students create “donation contraptions” to support the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina.
Ravenscroft’s Upper School Honors Engineering class has applied the concepts they’ve learned over the last semester in a very innovative way: working in groups to create what they called “donation contraptions” that serve as an incentive to donate to the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina.
Each group’s work included website creation, software development, circuit design and mechanical design to construct the contraption itself, with each team member working on a different part of the project.
One of the groups came up with the idea of “Yeezybot 808.”
“We decided together to make a robot that would play music and dance along,” Nate Guenard ’21 said. “This gave us the idea to give the donor options on what song and dance they would receive as a thank-you. We ended up picking five different Kanye West songs for donors to choose from. Thus, the name ‘Yeezybot 808’ — a reference to Kanye’s nickname and popular album ‘808s & Heartbreak.’
“We hoped that the choice between songs would incentivize more donations since donors might be intrigued to hear the other four tunes after receiving their selected thank-you performance.”
Team 21 constructed a 3D-printed, rotating Ferris Wheel. When a donation is made, it starts rotating and lights up in different patterns.
Team Otto Bots modified a robot named “Otto” with a 3-D printer, so after a donation is made, the robot dances. Donors will receive a video of “Otto” dancing, along with a customized message.
The Pachinko Team decided to make a pachinko machine, a complex version of pinball that is extremely popular in Japan. Whenever a donation is made, the machine is activated, releasing marbles to roll down the machine. The number of marbles dropped corresponds to the amount of money donated.
Team 5 created a Ravenscroft-themed train called the Donation Express. It plays a song as it “moves” in front of rolling scenery with a display that flashes a thank-you message.
“The donation contraption project was a great way to get a feel for the design process. I learned a lot about the many different aspects of engineering hands-on,” Eric Marchi ’21, who worked on Team Otto Bots, said.
“Looking back on this project, it pushed me out of my comfort zone from the start and gave me the chance to learn more about areas that I had little to no knowledge of beforehand,” Jairus Cook ’22, a member of Team 5, said.
For teacher Michael D’Argenio, the project represented a great way to put engineering concepts into practice while reinforcing the value of service to the community.
“There are many different examples of similar ideas in existence: coin-donation spiral wishing wells, Kickstarter rewards, dunking booths and so forth,” he said. “All of these provide a fun reward for people’s contributions. We wanted to create something in this spirit that brings joy to people for donating to a good cause.”
You can participate, too! The five teams are competing to see which contraption can raise the most funds for the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina between Thursday, March 18, and Sunday, March 21. If you’d like to support a particular team, make a donation to the food bank and then visit the team’s webpage (use links above) and complete the entry form on their webpage. The team’s contraption will send a custom video of their device in action to thank you!
Below: Initial plans for Team Otto Bots; Team Pachinko; Team 5's Donation Express; Team 21's Ferris Wheel; Team "Yeezybot 808"