Making a foam board pinball game
After building the basketball game, I saw that a pinball game was also a common build. The trick to building a pinball game was the mechanism in the bumpers, and the release trigger. The bumper mechanism is an interesting one since it requires the use of elastics, and to place them so that when you depress or push the trigger, a “L” shaped bumper is pushed by your motion. The harder you push the trigger, the harder it pushes on the bumper. But the question is, how do we get the bumper to its original position. This was the engineering part. I watched several Youtube videos in how others created their bumpers with each of them having a different type of mechanism but in the end, I used one and modified its design a little. I must say that the designing of the bumper and using the elastics really allowed me to understand the mechanism a lot deeper than just following the instructions on the Youtube video. I would consider trying this design process again once my daughters are little older so that they can appreciate the design and engineering process.
The next part was the trigger release. How do we get the ball into the game. The trigger release is a bit simpler since you just need to have a pull trigger that is created by the elastic (like a slingshot), but instead of it shooting out, you have the release trigger hit a stop. There are other ways of creating the trigger, which makes this design challenge a fun one.
Building this with my daughter allowed her to choose her favourite characters (yes, final fantasy VII heroes), and have her understand how the bumpers work. She might be too young to understand the exact engineer part, but for her to be exposed to the design, and visually see behind the foamboard of how it works is pretty amazing.
In the future, I would like to have the exact dimensions and draw it on Inkscape or Illustrator and have them cut in a laser cutter. Can this be fully assembled just based on a template? Other variations that can be done is to use a 3D printer to print off various objects to incorporate into your pinball design. I think this is a great activity for early years students to create.