"Look what I made for you," said Joey, with pride, as he held up a paper airplane. "That's nice, but it's kinda plain. It's just white with some thin blue lines on it."
"Of course, Silly, it's a piece of notebook paper." But he thought for a moment. "I'll be back."
Joey went into his room and pulled out his jars of non-toxic tempera paint. First he covered the plane with a yellow-god base coat. Then he painted a lovely design in a burgundy color. He added a few highlights in hunter green. He returned to his sister's room.
"Viola! How do you like this?"
"Wow, that's pretty," his sister replied. "But how does the plane land? Where is the landing gear?"
"Good idea," said Joey. He returned to his room and fashioned some landing hear out of paper clips and a couple of buttons.
"Ah, very good," said Susie when she saw it. "But where do the people sit? You need to put some seats in the plane."
Joey sighed. But he sincerely wanted the plane to be all it could be. Now Joey found a paper towel tube to act as the cabin. He cut a strip out of the length of it so it could be a domed roof rather than a cylinder. Then he cut holes for windows. He made seat-backs out of cardboard. To stay one step ahead of his sister, he placed people in the seats. They were the little figures from a board game. After fastening it all together with tape and other various techniques, he brought the plane to his sister, who was now downstairs.
When she saw it, Susie said, "It's perfect. I'm going to fly it." She ran up the stairs to the landing and tossed the plane over the banister. It fell to the floor with a clunk.
Moral: If you load up your project with fancy embellishments, it may look nice, but it won't fly. Keep your system simple. Bells and whistles are nice, but every time you add a feature to your system, you add complication and potential problems. Make sure you can get your system off the ground before adding extra features. Stay focused on the main goal of the system: make sure your system does what it's supposed to. A plane isn't a plane if it doesn't fly. If your system does 25 other things, but it doesn't do what it's supposed to, it's a failure.
These stories are adapted examples written in my class, IS 6840 (formerly MSIS 488).
© Vicki L. Sauter. All rights Reserved.