We designed a dynamic storage system that serves as a learning tool to engage a child's motor skills and awareness in a playful way. The rotating capability of the shelf promotes independence in storing, organizing and retreiving their materials: no shelf is inaccessible. It also allows the child's mind to make connections between the gears and the pulley system, realizing one needs the other to move.
The very first idea we had was more "windmill" shaped, as opposed to a verticle tank tread. The idea didn't last very long at all, because we found that a shelf of that type would take up far too much space horizontally. As we moved to the new shelf shape, we found ourselves to be more successful, although there were still 3 major issues. The first major issue was the spacing between boxes. The spacing needed to be exactly equidistant in order to keep the boxes from being pulled by gravity. The second issue was weight distribution within each storage box itself. The boxes needed to have there internal weight distibuted evenly as well to avoid boxes tipping. The last issue was the space clearance for going over the top curve of the shelf. Becuase we were still having trouble deciding how we would attach the boxes to the rotating belt, we had a hard time moving on to the other big issues, until we came up with our final design.
--Final Design Decision--
When addressing concerns regarding clearance space for the boxes, balancing weight, and the possibility of boxes rotating over, we arrived at our most significant design change. The wheels that were once turned by chains are now pulled by the dowels that hold the boxes. No longer would we have to think of ways to attach the dowels to the belt, because they were now a part of the belt itself. The gears are now wheels with 3 grooves in each, one groove per dowel. The grooves serve as nesting points for the dowels as they rotate around to the other side. We attched the dowels to string, creating a track of equidistant shelves. This design is clearer in presentation, but much more challenging in execution. We discovered very quickly that our dimensions needed to be exact so that rotating dowels would line up to each notch. We ended up working backwards with our calculations arriving at the key demensions.