"Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change." -Brene Brown
I think I have had the coolest internship ever with the UTeach program!! I interned with MathHappens, a non-profit organization co-founded by Lauren Siegel and her husband, Phil Siegel, for a year. During this year, I learned how to use a laser cutter and then laser cut many math-based projects, some that I have shared and discussed here! MakeATX, a laser cutting place, was where I cut all the projects. MathHappens had a membership with the owners of the makerspace, which fortunately eliminated any issues of access. Each laser cutting project had its own challenges, the most prevalent one being unable to get the proper size of the design cut and setting the raster and vector speeds correctly the first time. Using this high-power tool has taught me to how to be creative when designing different math tools, accurate at setting the speeds for efficient cutting, patient with the software being used (Corel Draw) and most importantly, understanding that I am not going to get it right the first time. This helped me realize the importance and effectiveness of iterations and re-designing prototypes, something I had to do for every single one of my projects! There are many issues of equity and access when it comes to laser cutting. MakeATX was the only location where the other interns and I went to cut out our projects! If we were to use another tool to produce our projects, there would have to be a few adjustments and modifications to do so.
faceting a quartz gem!
To become certified to teach geology, I had to take two geology course, one of which was gems and gem minerals. During this course, my awesome professor, Dr. Helper, taught us about gems and different minerals gems were made of. For our semester project, students had to facet a quartz gem! Using the faceting machine pictured below and different laps to polish and facet the quartz gem, I ended up with the finished product, a clear quartz gem. This project took a lot of patience and a month to complete. One of the biggest challenges I faced was not being able to remove all the scratches from my gem. My gem still has some scratches which can only be seen with a magnifying glass. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to make facet another gem, although Dr. Helper was super cool and let us do so! I got to choose the type of cut I wanted on my gem, which made the gem more personal to me. However, if I was to facet another gem, it would be the pear cut on a sapphire gem. The problems I would run into would be getting the materials and equipment for this project, which are very expensive.
The design process included following a set of directions to facet each part of the gem such as the table, crown, girdle, and pavilion. To begin, I was given a quartz gem dopped onto a dop stick with a coating of shellac. I followed the instructions to facet the gem and started faceting the crown main facets. For each cut, it was important to ensure that the index on the faceting machine and the protractor were correct and the facets were of equal size. Four different laps were used during the project. To make the cuts on the gem, a medium lap was used. This basically shaped the gem based on the size and angle I needed. A fine and extra fine lap were used to slightly re-cut parts of the gem, such as the table, and to remove any scratches from the medium lap. Water from the faceting machine is used to help this process. The last task for each part of the gem was to polish it. The polishing lap containing cerium oxide was used to polish the gems on the dry, motionless lap. Polishing the gem was the most difficult part of the project and required a lot of back and forth on the lap! Some of the procedures I followed for the project are below!
The following slideshow shows pictures of some of my work and work of other interns, Lauren, and I all collaborated on to produce. All the math objects were laser cut at MakeATX, except for the stereographic projection!
Feel free to visit MathHappens' blog, a documentation of all the work the non-profit organization accomplishes every month! To see more of what former (including myself) and current interns have accomplished with Lauren Siegel, press the button above:)