The End is in…Nope, it’s Here: A. Almaraz and R. Howard

Final Dragon Costume
Final Dragon Costume

At the Make-o-Rama showcase, we presented our completed dragon as well as our digital presentation (more on this later). At our assigned display site, there weren’t many people who passed by our section of the hall, however when people did occasionally pass and see our Dragon costume, they expressed equal parts of intrigue and confusion. Intrigue, because it’s not everyday (or so we are guessing), that they’ve run across a miniature dragon on wheel. Confusion, because it’s not everyday that anyone sees a miniature dragon on wheels. When we explained to them what our costume was made for and why (as well as how much our overall project had changed), they thought it was a good idea and a good way to raise awareness about the lack of wheelchair-incorporating Halloween costumes in the market.

Our Make-o-Rama presentation and product changed radically over the course of this project. At the beginning of this endeavor, we imagined that we would be able to create a full sized dragon with cool special effects such as wing movement and fake fire. When we realized that three things were working against us (time, resources, and energy), we took our idea back to the drawing board and started putting ideas that either weren’t realistic or required too much of the aforementioned factors on the chopping block. Basically it looked like this:

Fake Fire: CHOP!

Movable Wings: CHOP!

Sound Effects (with the use of an Arduino board): CHOP!

Dragon Head: CHOP!

Our final product, is a sorry sight compared to what we’d imagined, but it is a lot to be proud of. We created large realistic dragon wings (Neither of us have ever seen real dragon wings, however both believe that anything that’s not prove to be either real or unreal is still a possibility), a textured body, and were able to attach the different components to the wheelchair (though the costume does impede wheelchair movement to a certain extent). No, we don’t have the special effects we’d thought we’d present at the Make-o-Rama, but having as much as we had is still an accomplishment.

When it came to our presentation of the dragon, this also came under the same chopping method previously mentioned. At the beginning of this project, when we still had months ahead of us and seemingly a limitless amount of time, we figured we would be able to create a video for making the dragon, as well as a brochure that explained more about our purpose and who we are, as well as another written/video component that would go into more detail and give helpful tips. Obviously (at least, to those who attended the event), we didn’t have all this. Instead, we had a PowerPoint that would play on a timer and show instructions to the crowd (we experienced technical difficulties in trying to show the presentation).  The only constant thing between our idea of the faire and the realization of it was that we talked to people and interacted with them and the dragon costume.

If we had the opportunity to go back and start this project over again, we would aim to finish the costume earlier (before we ran out of energy) and we wouldn’t have so many expectations of what we were going to present, how we were going to present, who we were going to present to, where we were…well, we think you get the point. On top of that, we would be a little more realistic in terms of the amount of time we had to get each component done.

In terms of how this project related to the Senior Capstone at this school,  there was little to do with it, which could be changed in order to better prepare seniors for that task. We didn’t feel that this project had anything in particular to do with our Capstone project. The first semester would have been useful for a tenth grader preparing for DAP, because the process was very similar to that. Capstone was much different in the type of work we were required to do, and the only similarity to Capstone the fall semester had  was, working with a group of people I hadn’t previously worked with. The largest difference between the projects were the size of groups. Although there are many project we do at the school, they are limited to working with a group of four or five at most.  The capstone groups were fifteen people and up. This was possibly the hardest thing to work with because during the Capstone, it was challenging to decide which area needed most help for. Figuring out what jobs everyone could do and how to organize the company with  that many people was something that we had never had experience with and is a factor that made Capstone hard. It would be useful to the seniors next year to get the exposure of working in a large group to accomplish a goal.

This project that we worked on will help us keep in mind time, and how to organize it, as well as how to coordinate with one and other. These are two very important skills to learn and use because there were times when we were on different “pages” so to say, and knowing how to work it out and better communicate is something that we needed.

Our advice to we’d tell other students is to be committed to the idea they want to do, and really look forward to the end product, because that is what will motivate them to keep building. We’d also tell them to remember that the end goal may seem far away but in reality time has a way of passing by and deadlines will come out of nowhere. Having a good idea of the amount of time you have and pacing yourself  for completing a goal is what will make anyone a success in the end.

Overall the most challenging part was deciding what we wanted to do, when the possibilities are endless, it can be hard to decide on one thing, but when the decision has been made the fun can begin. Getting to put together the project was the most fun, because of getting to see the product develop and coming across the surprising realization that making a costume is harder than it looks.

We plan to donate the item to the school for further teaching purposes. We will be leaving behind the dragon to inspire next years seniors, maybe someone will want to pick up where we have left off and create dragon 2.0 with the sound effects and moving parts we’d imagined. By doing so we are embodying the Ann Richards spirit to create and remake.

Looking back at the different roadblocks we faced doing this project, how we overcame them, and everything else the either helped or hurt us in trying to make this project, we feel that we deserve a 96%. We deserve this grade because we worked constantly ( and utilized class time effectively) and even though the dragon costume didn’t come out the way we’d imagine, we still pushed through to the end to create a costume (which, believe us, is harder to make than it looks) that most people came recognize as a dragon or some other reptilian creature. On top of that, we improved our ideas constantly throughout this project as we completed tasks. For instance, when we were attaching the costume to the body of the wheelchair, instead of using tape as we’d originally planned, we used a mixture of Duct Tape and twine to attach various components for a better grasp on the wheelchair. For these reasons, we deserve of 96%.

3 thoughts on “The End is in…Nope, it’s Here: A. Almaraz and R. Howard

Add yours

  1. I love your end product! Your overall project reminds me of Scarlet’s first semester product of a dino pediatric wheelchair. The challenge that you faced with not knowing what to do with the wheelchair was the same thing that our team went through during the first semester. I think that Halloween costumes for wheelchair has a pretty good market because through the research that we did, we saw that parents and kids alike wanted to add a bit more color, and having the wheelchair interact with their child. With the costume that you both created, it meets those two requirements that parents want. Also Scarlet went through the same process of cutting things. We wanted to change the wheelchair so much that we got ahead of ourselves at one point. I would say that by going through this process, everyone has learned to take baby steps and plan out what the idea is. It makes it easier for everyone. -Karina Mendez

  2. I really enjoyed reading your post, and how you thoughtfully reflected on all the challenges that you had to face when creating your “dragon”. I still believe that what you both accomplish is quite amazing since it looks really great, and I am sure that many kids would love it. I also liked your idea on the instructions guide which I believe we were able to view a part of it during a presentation you did in class. You might also want to include a section in your instructions guide that centers all about advice and maybe a brief description of your challenges so that other people may be aware to prioritize their time. I also hope that other ARS girls may decide to continue your project and to add on more special effects. This will be quite interesting since different minds will come together to expand upon a project and to see just how far they can go with an idea. Lastly, I was wondering how you were going to share your instructions guide to other people since parents would surely want to make this type of costume for their children on Halloween. I think that possibly reaching out to ARS students who have siblings or family members who are on wheelchairs might be a good beginner’s idea.
    -Zabdi Salazar

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