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Contact: Phil Lupsiewicz, 978-318-7833Concord, MA. Travel to most National Park sites and you're sure to see them. Usually in a visitor center, a clear, solid box with the name of the park on it. Inside, you will notice the bills and change from visitors who have contributed to the park in the form of a donation. These donations help parks in so many ways, from special projects to interpretive programming, the money you leave behind, comes back to you and the next visitor in so many ways.
Once you put them money in the box, it becomes the responsibility of the park to safeguard the donation until it can be counted and deposited. Part of the responsibility is to protect the money in the box for a period of time, which could be several days before it is collected. A way to keep the money safe is with specially designed and built boxes which all for easy deposit. Standards that have been tested have proven unauthorized removal cannot occur. Special design features in the boxes keep out unwanted removal, while easy deposit. Simple in design, construction can be a challenge.
Minute Man National Historical Park has two donation boxes that mimic handcrafted lanterns. Their design is inspired by the signal lanterns hung in the Old North Church, which signaled the departure of the British Army and their march to Concord on April 19, 1775. To bring the donation boxes up to current standards, the park needed to added a security baffle to each box.
Margie Coffin Brown, Resource Manager at Minute Man National Historical Park, reached out to the GearTicks, a Lincoln-based high school robotics team with a lot of skills in problem-solving, design, and construction.
To make the baffles, the Gearticks used a NICRO wire bending jig to make precise bends in sheets of plastic, a common component used in the design and construction of small, competitive robots. In previous robot projects, the team used a heat gun, but had recently acquired a NICRO jig to improve the functionality of their robot.
With the special jig in the tool kit, the students were able to take the sheets of plastic and after reading the National Park Service specifications on donation box construction, it was felt they could build the internal components necessary to bring the old box up to standards. In over an hour, the internal baffle was built and with small and dexterous hands, the component was installed. With one box down, the second box took even less time.
The reconditioned boxes were delivered and installed at the park in late February. The project gave the students the opportunity to work and develop their skills in multi component construction as well as helping the park to meet modern standards for their donation boxes.