Tinkering School

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Giant Insects Week 8 - Boys & Girls Club - Willie Mays Clubhouse

B&GClub -WM (Spring 2018)Julie PeriComment

It's our final week of the year at Willie Mays clubhouse and our insects are taking flight! We added on the final touches to the butterfly and queen bee and said our goodbyes to the ice cream bug and winged spider. 

One of final steps for the butterfly was adding on the wings and coloring them with melted crayon. In our first attempt we added all of the crayon colors mixed together, which left us with a greenish brown color. Learning from our mistake, we moved forward melting one color at a time. 

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While adding the color to the wings we also added on wheels and seating to the butterfly, while making sure to have plenty of fun. 

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Rai Rai getting screws for the wheels and wings.

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Ju'Lasia ensuring we don't take things too seriously.

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Brendon and Jala working on final touches for the butterfly. 

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Voila! Once the butterfly was done we took it for a test drive. We also celebrated the completion of their project with a certificate of recognition of their commitment to Tinkering School goals, learning from our mistakes, building something bigger than ourselves, collaborating and making friends and trying harder than usual. 

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Meanwhile in the queen bee group we were visited by an unexpected criter! A bumble bee which the kids took as a good omen. "We are building a black bee and there is a black bee!" Mau Rae, Saniya and Teijon were delighted. 

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Mau Rae and Saniya adding on the fabric of the queen bee.

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Mau Rae channeling Beyonce and her queen bee persona.

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Teijon attached the wings.

The day ended by acknowledging each of the tinkerers and their commitment to the Tinkering School goals. We can't wait to be back next year and build some new projects! Have a great summer.

Giant Insects - Weeks 5- 7 - Boys & Girls Club - Willie Mays Clubhouse

B&GClub -WM (Spring 2018)Julie PeriComment

In the butterfly and ice cream bug groups we have been working like busy bees to get our insects off the ground. Our hard work is paying off and the insects are taking form.

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First we teamed up to bring in more wood.

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Then made some cuts. Princeton used the jig saw to cut out part of the body for the ice cream bug. 

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Both groups made sure to collaborate. 

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And finally we acknowledged ourselves and each other for our hard work. It's always a good day when you can end with a smile and a silly face. 

In the queen bee and winged spider group we began to assemble the bodies of each bug. 

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Mau'Rae and Malea collaborated on putting in the studs of the bee's body. 

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While Malia lead the team on the giant spider. 

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Wisemann worked hard attaching the stinger.

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And Saniya and Mau'Rae worked on attaching some seating. 

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We are so excited to see what will be next in our final week! Time to add the final touches and watch our insects come to life! See you next week.

Train Bridge - Finale! - Boys & Girls Club - Mission Clubhouse

B&GClub - M (Winter 2018)Brendon BellComment

ALL ABOARD!!! 

The Bay Area's newest train is ready to leave the station for the first time!

"All aboard!" This phrase also holds the magic that we strive to conjure at Tinkering School. When kids collaborate together on projects they direct, the result is that they are indeed very much "on board" for the journey. Over the last several weeks, this hardworking and passionate crew exemplified the best of tinkering: collaboration, creativity/problem solving, learning from mistakes and overcoming challenges, and through the process they managed to create something way bigger than one person could build on their own! 

Before the kids could finally ride their train though, there were a few last minute jobs to complete...

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We saw so many great examples of collaboration in the final push to complete the train cars and bridge!  

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The kids also discovered the law of diminishing returns also applies to tinkering. At a certain point there isn't enough space for drills let alone another tinkerer!

THE DOORS ARE CLOSING...

FIND YOUR SEAT... 

THE SF - MARIN TRAIN IS LEAVING THE STATION!

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Our train's high tech propulsion mechanism involved a rope and several tinkerers pulling.

This simple yet effective strategy worked so well that we decided to also use it as our braking mechanism. While some of our crew were eager to test the physics of a runway train, we decided brakes would probably be a good idea for our first few trips.

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After a successful test run with an adult collaborator, the train was opened to all our young tinkerers. Check out our video below to see the action!

The satisfaction 0f knowing you can build an epic bridge and train = priceless :-)

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Thanks for a great tinkering time Mission Clubhouse! We look forward to collaborating with you again soon!

Train Bridge - Week 9 - Boys & Girls Club - Mission Clubhouse

B&GClub - M (Winter 2018)Brendon BellComment

As with many other public works projects (ahem...16th St. BART escalator...), the grand opening of our train bridge has been delayed. We will need one more week before final testing can occur. Luckily our hardworking crew accomplished a lot this week, so for our final session we will definitely have time to test out and ride across the Bay Area's new Golden Gate Bridge on the Marin-SF train!  

 So much going on in the car team! For the cars with floors, the next step was to cut out bumpers and attach the wheels!

So much going on in the car team! For the cars with floors, the next step was to cut out bumpers and attach the wheels!

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Lisette and Julian got some more practice time with the jigsaw cutting out the floor for the taco car.

 Tinkering selfie! A "tinkerfie"?

Tinkering selfie! A "tinkerfie"?

The taco car finally has a floor and the back door even works great too! 

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Meanwhile, the shark car and rowboat car both got wheel upgrades! Before we attached the wheels though, bumpers needed to be installed. We wouldn't want the the rowboat to run into the taco car and make it into a crunchy taco, and then have the crunchy taco land all over the shark car and make a mess...

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Hever puts some muscle into his work! The team found that it was easier to trace the holes for the wheels and then drill pilot holes without the wheel in place.

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 Arthur carefully aligning a wheel. We want our train running straight!

Arthur carefully aligning a wheel. We want our train running straight!

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And how about our bridge team! They made huge progress and attached the ramps leading up to the bridge. 

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Jasmine and Ailey added an extra support. The ramp was already securely attached, but it was decided that another support would be good too - never too many!  

 So close to completion! 

So close to completion! 

I'm not alone in saying that I can't wait to test out and ride this train!!! Check back with us next week to see our tinkerers take this train for a ride!

Giant Insects - Week 4 - Boys & Girls Club - Willie Mays Clubhouse

B&GClub -WM (Spring 2018)Brendon Bell1 Comment

The insects are beginning to grow some stingers and legs! And their bodies are morphing from 2D to 3D before our eyes. We saw some great collaboration this week as well; tinkering is always more fun when we work together!

 Aziah cuts some pieces for the ice-cream insect's frame.

Aziah cuts some pieces for the ice-cream insect's frame.

 The drill bit made a hole, but it also stayed in the wood...(can you see it?) Prince discovers why it's important to tighten the teeth of the chuck drill extra hard around the drill bit.

The drill bit made a hole, but it also stayed in the wood...(can you see it?) Prince discovers why it's important to tighten the teeth of the chuck drill extra hard around the drill bit.

The butterfly team made great progress on the body, attaching supports between the two sides. Next steps will be to attach wings and a head.

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There's enough room for two in the belly of the butterfly!

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Our winged spider team also worked together well, trading off and on between drilling, screwing, and holding the wood for each other.

 There were lots of tricky angle pieces to cut to make the large hexagon foundation for the spider!

There were lots of tricky angle pieces to cut to make the large hexagon foundation for the spider!

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VOILA! A job well done. Time to bask in the satisfaction and take a rest :) Rest breaks are just as important as time spent tinkering some days! 

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The queen bee insect team made a fierce looking stinger with PVC pipe and wire this week! 

 Following a penciled line with the jig saw blade can be tricky. Luckily the kids get lots of opportunities to practice.

Following a penciled line with the jig saw blade can be tricky. Luckily the kids get lots of opportunities to practice.

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After drilling lots of holes in the pipe and board, all that was left was to thread the aluminum wire through the pieces and and twist them tight.

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Proud as a queen bee! And for good reason. Look at what we can accomplish when we work together!  

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Stay tuned for next weeks' installment of fun, buggy tinkering! 

Train Bridge - Week 8 - Boys & Girls Club - Mission Clubhouse

B&GClub - M (Winter 2018)Brendon BellComment

Another week of hard work and play, and our train/bridge is getting veerrry close to testing phase!

 Our weekly roundup discussing our plans for the day. Wouldn't be complete without snacks!

Our weekly roundup discussing our plans for the day. Wouldn't be complete without snacks!

Our bridge team decided to build some side rails for the roadways to prevent potential derailings. On behalf of all future passengers, we thank you! 

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After discussing design ideas, the group settled on using long 2x3s as the rails and cutting short support pieces that could be screwed into the rail and the side of the roadway. Simple and effective, often the best combo! 

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In the picture on the right, Jasmine practices toenailing a screw (drilling it in diagonally). Sometimes, this is the only good way to attach two pieces of wood.

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While the roadway construction crew was working hard, the train car teams made lots of progress as well. You may have wondered these past weeks if the cars we going to be Flintstone mobiles with no floors...but fear not for splintered feet, floors are on the way!

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We saw lots of great collaboration again today: measuring, carrying wood, cutting etc. Tinkering together is a ton of fun!

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With a little sanding, the floor boards were ready for installation.

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 Testing out the hinged entry door on the back of the shark car. 

Testing out the hinged entry door on the back of the shark car. 

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The taco and rowboat cars got some love as well and are nearly ready for their own floor installations. Next week we'll be ready to install the wheels! 

 This could be a good photo candidate for a caption competition :)

This could be a good photo candidate for a caption competition :)

With all the progress made today, we are on target to install some wheels next week on our train cars. Then let the testing phase begin! You may want to check back...maybe...might be sorta interesting...you might see kids rolling across a bridge in a shark...just saying... :)

Giant Insects - Week 3 - Boys & Girls Club - Willie Mays Clubhouse

B&GClub -WM (Spring 2018)Brendon BellComment

The insects are beginning to hatch and grow! Wings and legs, bee bodies and more!

Since we completed tool training last week, our Willie Mays crew had the full session to build their giant insect creatures. The flying spider team took advantage of their time and got started right away cutting out the wings.

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 The kids learned how to use the jig saw to easily cut out curved lines. We recently switched to a cordless jig saw and are loving the increased flexibility it provides. The blade also stops moving almost instantaneously after use; a great safety feature! At Tinkering School, we're always focused on finding and using the safest power tools. 

The kids learned how to use the jig saw to easily cut out curved lines. We recently switched to a cordless jig saw and are loving the increased flexibility it provides. The blade also stops moving almost instantaneously after use; a great safety feature! At Tinkering School, we're always focused on finding and using the safest power tools. 

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After cutting the wings, the rough edges needed a quick sanding to improve aerodynamic performance.  

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Our butterfly crew also got some time with the jig saw cutting out a diamond shaped piece of plywood for the body.

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 Lots of of opportunities to practice using clamps! 

Lots of of opportunities to practice using clamps! 

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And our melted ice cream bug got some support (framing pieces for the foundation).

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Not to be left out, our stinger lady bug/bee team also made good progress!

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 Mau'Rae cuts out two circular side pieces for the body. 

Mau'Rae cuts out two circular side pieces for the body. 

Malea drilled eyes for the lady bug/bee. Some insects may not need eyes, but this one will have excellent optics. Maybe the team will build their bug giant safety glasses too!

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We're excited to collaborate next week with this great group and see their buggy creations begin to take flight and crawl around! 

Giant Insects - Week 2 - Boys & Girls Club - Willie Mays Clubhouse

B&GClub -WM (Spring 2018)Brendon BellComment

"What are we going to build!?" A classic question that collaborators have been fielding since Tinkering School's inception over ten years ago. And last week we certainly heard a few variations from our Willie Mays tinkering crew :)

So what are we going to build?

GIANT INSECTS! Not only giant insects, but giant insects that have to collect giant bits of pollen and transport them back to their hive.  The kids were up for the challenge and they jumped into imagining and designing their insects. What will they look like? How will they pick up the pollen?

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So far we will be building a winged spider, a butterfly, a cute bee/caterpillar, and a bug that looks like melted ice-cream with a jet pack on its back! Can't wait to see these insects in action!

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With some hard design work under our belts, it was time to move on to more tool training. Next up, the CHOP SAW!

The kids learned all about the blood bubble (the area near the blade that all fingers and appendages must remain well outside of). We also had the kids feel their arms and notice how squishy they are compared to the the wood. If the saw can cut through the wood like butter, what does that mean for our fingers/arms...? We want the kids to have a healthy respect for the saw and what it can do if not used properly. At the same time, we also work to instill a feeling of confidence in their ability to use the saw and other tools safely. That's why we train each child on our very specific safety measures. A collaborator is also right there by their side at all times, watching, and controlling the power button. At Tinkering School, safety is always #1.

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Each tinkerer got a chance to cut their first piece of wood. They'll have lots of opportunities to practice more in the upcoming weeks!

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To complete our introductory tool training, we next learned how to use clamps, an essential tool in any workshop.

 Building is fierce!

Building is fierce!

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Tinkering is all about learning by doing. The kids quickly mastered the clamps and crafted some cool sculptures/bridges in the process.

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 We can have fun tinkering with any material, even just clamps and 2x3s!

We can have fun tinkering with any material, even just clamps and 2x3s!

Tool training complete - check.

Design brainstorming complete - check.

Next week, we'll create blueprints of our giant insects and begin the really fun phase of actually building our epic creations! Keep checking back in to see our progress!

Train Bridge - Week 7 - Boys & Girls Club - Mission Clubhouse

B&GClub - M (Winter 2018)Brendon BellComment

Come in bridge road construction crew...(crackle, static)

...its time to build and raise our roadway! Over. (more static)....

Another week, and the B&GC Mission Clubhouse tinkerers once again brought their A-game! Our crew got started right away testing designs for our roadway. We started out with single sheets of 3/4in plywood. Would it be strong enough?

 Elina veery carefully tests the plywood sheets' deflection strength. Can you see its slight bend?

Elina veery carefully tests the plywood sheets' deflection strength. Can you see its slight bend?

But what if we have two kids or two train cars riding over the roadway at the same time!?

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Aghhhh! We definitely heard a couple cracks before Alberto and Marco made their way across the roadway. I doubt we would have many paying customers riding over our bridge with a bend like that, but luckily Ailey suggested we build some supports under the plywood to stiffen it up. Let the measuring, cutting, and drilling commence!

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With three teams, we were able to quickly construct multiple road segments. One for the bridge and two to slope down from the bridge ends down the ground.

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 One of the nice things about building with wood, is that it bends (to an extent). Ailey "nudges" a cross support into place with a mallet.

One of the nice things about building with wood, is that it bends (to an extent). Ailey "nudges" a cross support into place with a mallet.

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With the roadways completed, we shifted to attaching the cross supports on the towers that the road will sit on.

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 Is it level? The kids learned how to use a bubble level to make sure the road would sit evenly in place.

Is it level? The kids learned how to use a bubble level to make sure the road would sit evenly in place.

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And finally it was time to hoist the roadway between the towers!

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We didn't quite have time to screw in the road to the towers this week, so instead we used clamps to secure it for testing.

As with all semi dangerous builds, we have Tinkering School collaborators test the structural integrity of a project first before any young tinkerers test our their handiwork. 

 I ended up picking the lucky straw to take the first steps into the unknown...

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 It didn't bend! And thankfully no one heard any creaking or cracking either. It was super sturdy. Nice work crew!

It didn't bend! And thankfully no one heard any creaking or cracking either. It was super sturdy. Nice work crew!

With the all clear signal, the kids each carefully walked across their bridge for the first time!

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 Priceless :-)

Priceless :-)

So we know that these tinkerers can build a strong pedestrian bridge. But will they be able to rise to the challenge and make it train worthy??? Check out the blog next week to find out!

Giant Insects - Week 1 - Boys & Girls Club - Willie Mays Clubhouse

B&GClub -WM (Spring 2018)Brendon BellComment

Spring is here! And that means our Tinkering School collaborators are excited to welcome two new tinkering crews to our Willie Mays workshop :)

 Name tags and snack time. Tinkering can be very tiring sometimes...good to have extra fuel reserves!

Name tags and snack time. Tinkering can be very tiring sometimes...good to have extra fuel reserves!

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To start our session, we each picked one of the four tinkering school goals we wanted to focus on individually and accomplish during our weeks together. We also spent time brainstorming a list of group agreements for how we wanted to treat each other, and how to use tools and the workshop safely.

After agreeing to agreeably uphold our group agreements, we jumped into tool training! First up...

DRILLS!

(The coveted favorite of many a young tinkerer :)

 Reggie explains the fine art of collecting screws, drill bits, and screw bits in a one of our most important safety devices - the screw bucket. You would be amazed where screws can end up without a good container nearby!

Reggie explains the fine art of collecting screws, drill bits, and screw bits in a one of our most important safety devices - the screw bucket. You would be amazed where screws can end up without a good container nearby!

 Learning about the drill's buttons and switches and all their functions.

Learning about the drill's buttons and switches and all their functions.

We always demonstrate the safe and proper use of a particular tool before we supervise the kids as they try them out themselves. Below, Reggie shows one way to measure how deep a drill bit will go. (Measure on the outside of a piece of wood!) It's a useful technique to avoid drilling into a unintended surface (concrete, table top, etc).

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Snapshots courtesy of one of our tinkerers. Looks like this crew isn't having much fun... ;)

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Julie demonstrates how to remove a drill bit. We always drop them into a bucket because they can be hot after drilling, and also to avoid round objects rolling around on the ground. 

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At Tinkering School we believe that the best way to learn is to try things ourselves. To have a chance to make mistakes and learn from them. Everyone had an opportunity to practice their new drilling and screwing skills. They also got lots of chances to collaborate and help each other by holding down the wood blocks while their partners drilled. As Reggie likes to say, "teamwork makes the dream work!"

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Drilling and screwing are some of the foundational skills we teach tinkerers. Next week, we'll learn how to use clamps and the chop saw. And we'll discover what we'll be building! Stay tuned to find out what our mystery project will be! 

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