Tinkering School

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Roving Vehicles - Week 2 & 4 - Boys & Girls Clubs - Willie Mays Clubhouse

Vehicles (Fall 2018), B&GCLub - WM (Fall 2018)Brendon BellComment

In case the “vrrooom, vrooom” hints from our first post weren’t obvious, we are happy to share with you what we shared with our young tinkering crew from Willie Mays clubhouse…we’re going to be building moving, rideable, steerable vehicles! YAY!!! The kids were more than a little excited :-)

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But what would our vehicles look like? What parts do we need in order to build a vehicle? How many wheels do we want our vehicles to have? So many questions…and so we jumped into our design sessions after breaking into a few different groups.

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We first spent some time drawing our own individual ideas and sharing them in a “gallery” tour. Then the project collaborators helped the teams combine and focus their ideas into one blueprint that they all felt ownership of and excited about.

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 We’re so glad. We love tinkering too :-)

We’re so glad. We love tinkering too :-)

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We couldn’t begin building though till we transported all our lumber to our build site. The kids were thrilled to haul the wood up the path to the garden workspace. It’s the simple things that make a project fun sometimes!

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They all learned how to safely carry the eight foot long pieces by partnering up so one person was on each end. This eliminates accidental helicopters from hitting passerby’s.

 Hauling wood is also hard work and thirst inducing!

Hauling wood is also hard work and thirst inducing!

With all our lumber and materials ready, the teams began cutting and assembling their vehicle frames and tires.

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The kids had to use a really large drill bit to make a hole big enough for the axle that the wheels will spin on. It was a good opportunity for collaboration because it took a lot of force to push the drill down. “Can I have a partner push please?”

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 Attaching a steering wheel to the threaded steering column.

Attaching a steering wheel to the threaded steering column.

Assembling the tires was super fun! After attaching the rims, the kids used a bike pump to inflate the tubes. These are no ordinary, tiny wheels…the vehicles will be able to go off-roading with these puppies!

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There was lots of time for practicing drilling and screwing as the teams built their vehicles’ frames that the wheels, floor, roof and everything else will attach to.

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Another team also had a chance to complete their tool training and learn to use clamps, drills, and the chop saw effectively and safely.

 Great teamwork!

Great teamwork!

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 A pristine, freshly cut piece of lumber. Nice work Douglas!

A pristine, freshly cut piece of lumber. Nice work Douglas!

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And there was even still time to build the outer frame for the floor of the longest vehicle. It will hold all four team-members! It might resemble a bob sled by the time its completed…

There’s lots more fun tinkering to see from these first few weeks. We encourage you to visit our Flickr page and to check back with us next week. Who knows what this hard working and passionate crew will construct next!

Carnival - Weeks 2-4 - Boys & Girls Clubs - Mission Clubhouse

B&GClub - M (Fall 2018), Carnival (Fall 2018)Brendon BellComment

Step right up, step right up! You are in store for the most elaborate, the most exciting, the most inspiring event this side of the Mississippi. That’s right…it’s Tinkering School “Carnival Edition!”

This fall, the Mission Clubhouse will be building carnival rides - whoohoooo! which was pretty much the kids’ exact sentiments after Julie shared the design challenge :-)

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We split up into two groups and started drawing our individual design ideas. The design constraints this fall are to build one ride that spins, and one ride that swings. Annie and Amanda worked diligently on their design for the swinging ride.

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After completing the individual drawings, everyone shared their ideas with their project groups and then incorporated all of them into two big designs.

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Finally it was time to collect materials, measure, and begin cutting and attaching!

 Omar provided an excellent vertical reference for how tall a roof might need to be.

Omar provided an excellent vertical reference for how tall a roof might need to be.

Over the course of week 2-4 of our Tinkering session, the kids have had many opportunities to practice their building skills. It’s so great to see their confidence and comfort growing as they use large power tools, even ones that intimidated them initially like the chop saw!

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The spinning team came up with an awesome idea to build a “gravitron” (think of a big merry-go-round where the kids get plastered to the walls by the g-forces as they spin around). We’ll see how nausea inducing the ride ends up becoming…

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The tinkerers started out by creating a giant weblike frame structure that will support the floor and walls. The “legs” were sandwiched by two round plywood disks for extra support and to provide a place for an axle to go through.

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And “voila!” look how much they accomplished! They even attached caster wheels to the outside edge of each of the legs so the whole structure could spin. It worked!

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The swinging team also came up with a super exciting idea to have two rockets with riders sitting in them swing past each as if they were attached to the end of some giant scissors. With their plans in hand, they got straight to work cutting out frames and floor panels.

 Naret was excited to use a jig saw for the first time! She and Jasmine cut out a circle hatch out of the floor for riders to enter the rocket through.

Naret was excited to use a jig saw for the first time! She and Jasmine cut out a circle hatch out of the floor for riders to enter the rocket through.

 It lined up perfectly!

It lined up perfectly!

Jig saws can only cut by moving forward, not down. Rather than cutting a line to reach the circle outline, Jasmine used a large drill bit to cut a hole in middle of the plywood. That way the jig saw had a space for the blade to start from.

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 Amanda and Annie worked on constructing the frame for the second rocket. Such amazing teamwork!

Amanda and Annie worked on constructing the frame for the second rocket. Such amazing teamwork!

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Everyone in the team took turns trying out the jig saw. It was the first time using one for many of our young tinkerers. After their initial nervousness, it was awesome to hear several exclamations of “that was fun!” Its a joy for all of us as collaborators to see the lightbulb switch on for so many kids as they realize they are capable of using real tools to build amazing things they never dreamed they could make before.

It’s been a blast having the Mission clubhouse crew with us again and we can’t wait to see their progress next week! To see photos from the all the sessions so far, please visit our Flickr page. Stay tuned for more epic tinkering next week!

Flying Dragons - Week 4

Flying Dragons (Fall2018)Brendon BellComment

Our dragons may not be flying quite yet, but they took a giant leap forward today!

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The “riding above” team completed their frame/seat. The pieces fit together perfectly thanks to the team’s careful measurements. It may be the smallest of the dragons, but it will be exciting to ride on its back as it flies down the zip line which will be almost 80 feet long!

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This team is a picture of awesome collaboration at work. They took turns helping each other hold down wood while the other drilled, they generously shared their tools, and they made sure everyone’s ideas were heard. They’re so organized, they even started planning next weeks task list all on their own!

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The “riding under” team also made lots of progress. They completed their roof frame, cut out the roof and began attaching it all together. It was so exciting for Asher and Adele to finally get to use the jig saw too! Adele was nervous at first and wanted to wait before trying it out. At Tinkering School using a particular tool is always optional and we never pressure any kids to use them. We do gently encourage kids to face their fear and reassure them that we will be watching them and making sure they’re safe. As a result, we have witnessed countless moments of kids exclaiming “that was fun!!!” after moments before feeling too nervous to touch a saw or tool. Kids are more capable than they know and were on a mission to provide opportunities and experiences for them to discover just that :)

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 Calder helps August attach the supports to connect the sides of the head to make it “3D”. The head will eventually be attached to the neck and frame. Its going to be a very large dragon!

Calder helps August attach the supports to connect the sides of the head to make it “3D”. The head will eventually be attached to the neck and frame. Its going to be a very large dragon!

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Daphne tackled the very important task of building the dragon’s nest that the dragons will have to deposit their eggs into at the end of the zip line. Such a creative design and Daphne discovered it will provide lots of great drilling practice.

The “riding inside” team also finished the floor of their dragons belly and even had time to attach large eye-bolts that will be used to hoist the dragon in the air and attach to the zip line pulleys.

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Our young tinkerers had a lot of fun using the really big drill bits to make holes large enough for the eye-bolts. It’s fun to drill holes, especially holes so big you can easily see through them.

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So much fun was had by all this week! And wow did these teams make a ton of progress on their projects through the process. We can’t wait to see what they accomplish next week!

To see more fun photos from today and previous weeks, be sure to visit our Flickr page!

Flying Dragons - Week 3

Flying Dragons (Fall2018)Brendon BellComment

Rawwwr! With our tool training and design planning behind us, this week we had all a full session of tinkering and building! We met with our three dragon groups for a few minutes to make sure we were all on the same page, and then it was time to get our tools and materials.

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The kids raided “scrap alley” for pieces of plywood. Some were really heavy and long so all hands were needed.

When plywood pieces aren’t the perfect size, we have multiple different saws we can use to cut them into the shape we need. Jackson learned how to safely use the band saw and had lots of practice cutting straight lines as he had multiple pieces he needed to trim.

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August used the jig saw again to continue cutting out the shape of a dragon head for his team’s project. He learned how he can cut more intricate designs with the jig saws’s smaller blade.

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And Daphne had lots of practice using the chop saw cutting up pieces for the dragon egg nest. As the dragons fly down the zip line, they will pick up a dragon egg midway and deposit it in their nest at the other end.

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Adele and Asher teamed up to construct the body for the “riding under” dragon. They used a variety of clamps to help hold the pieces of wood together and took turns screwing and drilling. So efficient!

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Meanwhile, the “riding inside” dragon team got to work building their own frame and attaching a solid floor that could hold up multiple riders. There were lots of opportunities for everyone to practice their drilling technique.

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The team also came up with an ingenious way to craft a curved body for their dragon. The PVC pipe is attached to the floor with long bolts.

 Olivia estimates if she’ll still fit inside.

Olivia estimates if she’ll still fit inside.

The “riding above” dragon team also made lots of progress constructing the ribs and frame of their dragon.

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Holding down a piece of wood is accomplished with a variety of methods: clamps, a vise, a helping hand, and as Truman demonstrates, using our entire body weight can be helpful sometimes too!

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The satisfaction of precision in action :-) A simple frame built precisely can be more challenging to construct than we might think.

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Juliana also had a chance to try out the band saw. Sometimes with a longer piece, a helping hand is needed. Thanks Truman! While Juliana guided the wood through the blade, Truman kept his hands flat underneath the board, holding it up level with the table.

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We saw so many examples of great collaboration and teamwork this week and the projects are rapidly taking shape as a result. We’re super excited to soon be testing out how well these dragons fly down the zip line. To see all the fun, be sure to check back next week and don’t forget to visit our Flickr page!

Flying Dragons - Week 2

Flying Dragons (Fall2018)Julie PeriComment

Hear ye, hear ye it is time to announce this session’s design challenge extravaganza! Aha - what is that? Do you hear a distant roar, a plume of smoke! Why yes!! It’s a dragon!

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This session of the after school Tinkering program we are building dragons you can ride on, in and under! After we discovered that it was indeed Emma and not a real dragon that was soaring through our shop, we discussed in further detail the nature of our design challenge. Not only are we building dragons that can hold a human and fly on a cable that spans the length of the school, each dragon also need to be able to grab and release an egg mid-flight.

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We split into three groups, dragons you can ride on, dragons you can ride in and dragons you can ride under and set to work designing our dragons. Each student began by making their own design, then doing a gallery walk of their team’s drawings and presenting each of their ideas to their group.

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Peter, Nicholas and Skylan draw individual designs in the dragons you ride in group.

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The tinkerers in the dragons you ride under group discuss their ideas and brainstorm with their teammates.

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Clay presents his idea to his team in the dragons you ride in group.

Next we incorporated all of the ideas into a single design and got to work. We love to let our ideas go WILD while designing, and once our imaginations to get going, we ground our ideas by investigating what our material and size constraints are.

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Peter and Skylan take measurements for their dragon’s wings.

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And August uses the jig saw.

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We had a great day full of fun, creativity and serendipity - Olivia excitedly shows her school mascot’s shirt, which she wore before knowing our design challenge was dragons! A true tinkering miracle. See you all next week!

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Flying Dragons - Week 1

Brendon BellComment

We’re thrilled to be hosting another after school Tinkering program at our workshop! It’s been a little while since our previous one, and we’re lucky to have such an enthusiastic group of youngsters to dive back in with us!

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Once our new crew was stocked up on snacks, we were ready to create some group agreements for how we wanted to treat each other and stay safe in the workshop. We all brainstormed a great list and signed our names as a way of committing to honoring these agreements.

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Next up it was time to learn how to use the BIG 3 tools: chop saw, drills, and clamps! We’ll be using these the most throughout the program.

After the kids learned how to operate the clamps, they were excited to be given a challenge to build a bridge with nothing but clamps and short pieces of lumber. Would it work!?

 So many opportunities to accomplish one of our Tinkering School goals: collaborate and make friends!

So many opportunities to accomplish one of our Tinkering School goals: collaborate and make friends!

Success! The kids were super excited with their bridges that spanned the workshop!

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Next up, the CHOP SAW! A consistent favorite amongst tinkerers young and old alike, the kids learned how to safely operate this incredible tool. The most important rule we learned to follow was to keep our hands out of the “blood bubble,” a space about 10 inches to the left and right of the blade. We’ll all have lots of practice with the chop saw throughout the rest of program.

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And of course, we couldn’t forget the drills!

We learned about the many buttons on the drills and how to adjust the speed, and strength (torque) if we were drilling or screwing.

 Great two handed form!

Great two handed form!

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We also discovered that the drill won’t do all the work for us. We have to press down pretty hard still and if we don’t have the best leverage, we can end up pushing ourselves away from the wood accidentally :-)

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 A helping hand can make all the difference!

A helping hand can make all the difference!

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Tinkering is also about celebrating our hard work and imaginative creations!

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Stay tuned next week to see what the design theme for this session will be and what this fun crew decides to build! In the meantime, you can check out Flickr page to see more photos from the day!

Roving Vehicles - Week 1 - Boys & Girls Clubs - Willie Mays Clubhouse

B&GCLub - WM (Fall 2018)Julie PeriComment

Vrooooooom, vroooooom!

We are back in full throttle this fall at the Willie Mays Club House, and we are excited to be here! We had so much fun last year learning and building with the kiddos and are already having a great time after our first class.

We started off the day by circling up and getting to know a little bit about each other and the Tinkering School Goals. We were excited to see a couple of returning Tinkerers. One of our favorite parts of the Tinkering School program is how many kids come back for more Tinkering!

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Then we jumped right into creating this session’s group agreements. The kids were thoughtful, generous and kind in their ideas about what agreements they want to make for their program. They focused on treating the tools and others with respect, being safe, and listening. Once they had listed everything they wanted to include they all signed (including the collaborators), giving their word to these agreements for the session.

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After everyone signed, we started our tool training. Our Tinkering School tool training focuses on three commonly used tools - clamps, chop saw and drills. While we do use other tools in our program, we teach the kids how to use them on an as needed basis.

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Kenneth and Kai were naturals at creating this clamp bridge. Part of our tool training often includes a challenge of some sort for the kids to practice what they learned and demonstrate proficiency with the tools. This year we had the students make a bridge with clamps and wood. Marissa, Giselle and Blanca too crushed this challenge and had fun doing it!

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Next we moved on to drill practice. Jadarius discovered the difference between the chuck drill he was using and the quick release drills Marissa and Giselle had, and the benefits of having a drill that can fit a variety of bits.

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Then everyone had a chance to practice what they learned and attach two pieces of wood together. Richae and Keyonie worked along side each other, learning from each other’s mistakes and collaborating when they needed help.

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And last, and certainly not least we learned about the chop saw. This tool is SO exciting (and sometimes a little scary) for many of our Tinkerers. They get to be acknowledged with the trust of handling a REAL power tool, and given the opportunity to take responsibility for their safety (with adult supervision). This is an opportunity for our students that they don’t get many other places in life, and part of what makes this program so incredibly special. And yes, Richae totally rocked it!

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Join us next time to find out what special project we will be working on this session and see all the photos from the day here. Beep beep!

Carnival - Week 1 - Boys & Girls Clubs - Mission Clubhouse

B&GClub - M (Fall 2018)Brendon BellComment

We’re thrilled to begin the 2018 school year with another 8 week Tinkering program with the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco - Mission Clubhouse! We invited 13 young, enthusiastic club members to our work shop and we jumped right in by creating some group safety agreements and talking about our Tinkering School goals.

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Next up, it was time to get our hands on some tools! We always start each Tinkering program with a safety tool training on the the three tools we end up using the most: drills, clamps, and the chop saw. We have a couple tinkering alums in this group, so for them it was a chance to practice their building skills. For many of the others, it was their first time using any these tools. Exciting!

 The kids inspected their drills first without batteries. They learned what the many buttons do as well as how to insert and remove drill and screw bits.

The kids inspected their drills first without batteries. They learned what the many buttons do as well as how to insert and remove drill and screw bits.

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The kids quickly discovered how collaborating makes tinkering so much easier and it feels good too! There were lots of opportunities to help one another hold down pieces of wood while the other drilled.

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Clamps don’t get much recognition for all the work they do, but these tools are an essential part of any workshop. After learning how to properly use twist and squeeze clamps, the kids were given a challenge, “can you build a bridge using only clamps and short pieces of 2x3 boards?”

 Most definitely yes!

Most definitely yes!

 Joanna tested different ways to clamp two pieces of wood together. End to end, the pieces fell apart easily.

Joanna tested different ways to clamp two pieces of wood together. End to end, the pieces fell apart easily.

 Overlapping the pieces gave lots of room for the clamp pads to pinch the wood. They didn’t budge!

Overlapping the pieces gave lots of room for the clamp pads to pinch the wood. They didn’t budge!

Lastly, but certainly not leastly, the kids were super excited to use the chop saw!

 Evan, one of our Tinkering Collaborators, has the kids feel how hard lumber is compared to their fingers and arms. Its important for everyone to have a healthy respect for how easily the saw can cut things and why its important to follow our safety rules. By following these rules, and always having an adult collaborator supervising, the saw is a very safe tool to use.

Evan, one of our Tinkering Collaborators, has the kids feel how hard lumber is compared to their fingers and arms. Its important for everyone to have a healthy respect for how easily the saw can cut things and why its important to follow our safety rules. By following these rules, and always having an adult collaborator supervising, the saw is a very safe tool to use.

 Great form!

Great form!

Such a busy and fun first day! We’re excited to welcome Mission club back next week and to reveal the theme of our Tinkering project. The kids can’t wait to start designing and building and soon they’ll have a chance to do just that!

Stay tuned for more next week and in the meantime you can visit our Flickr page to see more of the days’ activities!

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.

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