Lucerne Valley Virtual Academy K-6 Students Create ‘Coin Spinners’

Mary Eller
Virtual Academy K-6 teacher Mary Eller explains the day's in-class STEM lesson: assemblying the CrunchLabs' "coin spinning" kit.
On April 24th, Lucerne Valley Virtual Academy elementary school-aged students each created a DIY machine from a CrunchLabs kit that spins coins “faster than any human.”
This lesson was centered around the concept of a ratchet, a device consisting of a wheel with a set of angled teeth that engage to allow motion in one direction only (ex. a ratchet screwdriver). In this case, the the Coin Spinner propels a coin faster than a person could unassisted.
While the average person can keep a coin spinning for only about six seconds, students creating the CrunchLabs’ kit can keep theirs spinning for an average of 14 seconds, according to CrunchLabs Mark Rober. Rober, a high-energy YouTube personality with 50 million subscribers, who was an engineer with NASA for nine years and spent seven years working on the Curiosity rover at Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Later he worked at Apple Inc.
The project teaches a reality of physics that when a ring or sphere object — such as a coin — has more mass on its outside it has more energy to keep rotating, a lesson first taught to the Virtual Academy students in a previous CrunchLabs kit lesson. 
Each of the Coin Spinner packages come with two kits so students can invite a friend or family member to join in the lesson. During the recent in-class event in Lucerne Valley, students worked alongside others and some parents.
The Hausler family (foreground) work together on their coin spinners.
After the Virtual Academy students assembled their projects, they tested their coin spinners with various degrees of success. Coins were spinning on tables throughout the classroom with some students facing off against others to show their coin spinning prowess.
CrunchLabs, based in the Bay Area, combines STEM projects to teach science while having loads of fun. “Our goal is to show kids and kids at heart how to ‘think like an engineer,’” Rober said.
The Lucerne Valley Virtual Academy was started in 2020 to give families the opportunity to have their students participant in school remotely during the pandemic. The K-12 program continues for those wanting to continue in the mostly remote learning format. The Lucerne Valley Unified School District has grown dramatically over the last eight years growing from less than 700 students to 1,050 currently.
The Virtual Academy gathered for an in-class STEM lesson assembling CrunchLabs "coin spinning" kits.
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