Tinkering School

come make amazing things with us

Week 1 - Boys & Girls Club - Mission Clubhouse

B&GClub - M (Winter 2018)Brendon BellComment

Big news! In case you missed our previous blog post, Tinkering School is partnering with the Boys & Girls Club of San Francisco to bring our after school tinkering programs to their young members! We couldn't be more excited to be working with the B&GC Willie Mays clubhouse (check out their blog here) and the B&GC Mission clubhouse. 

This week we met our Mission tinkerers for the first time and while we munched on snacks we learned each other's names and what everyone's favorite kind of sandwich was (lots of chicken salad sandwich fans in the house!) With this important business behind us, we talked about our four Tinkering School goals: collaborate and make friends, make mistakes and learn from them, try harder than usual, and build something bigger than ourselves. We also created some group agreements around how we will safely use the tools and treat each other with respect while we work together as a team. With these goals and agreements guiding our time together, we're bound for some epic tinkering! 

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Next up it was time for tool training! We split into three groups and cycled between stations learning how to use clamps, drills and the chop saw.

Julie sharing all the clamping tips and tricks

Julie sharing all the clamping tips and tricks

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We use "squeezy" clamps (grip the handle to tighten)

We use "squeezy" clamps (grip the handle to tighten)

and "twisty" clamps (twist a few times to lock it in place)

and "twisty" clamps (twist a few times to lock it in place)

Drills are always a huge favorite with tinkerers and this crew definitely thought so too. The kids learned all the different speed and direction settings, how to change drill/screw bits, how to choose what length screws to use, and much more. And they practiced their new skills by making giant frames.

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Alberto and Henry demonstrating picture perfect technique and teamwork!

Alberto and Henry demonstrating picture perfect technique and teamwork!

And last but definitely not least - the chopsaw!!! With a little healthy fear and respect, our young tinkerers learned how to safely cut 2x3 pieces of lumber. The important take away - keep all hands and appendages  out of the blood bubble (the unsafe area within 10 inches or so to the left, right, and front of the saw blade). They did great and I'm happy to report they left with all fingers intact as well as some wood block souvenirs. 

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This week was all about tool training and setting goals for our time together. Next week we'll find out what we'll be building and start designing and constructing our masterpiece! Stay tuned each week to see our progress! 

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A mini clubhouse! Boys & Girls Club - Willie Mays Clubhouse

B&GClub -WM (Winter 2018)Brendon BellComment

Tinkering School is proud to announce an exciting new partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of San Francisco! In 2018 we are piloting two after school tinkering programs: one with the Willie Mays clubhouse located in Hunters Point, and another at our tinkering workshop serving kids from the Mission clubhouse (check out their blog here). 

One of the first challenges and opportunities this partnership presented was we needed to figure out how to bring our tools and shop to the kids at Willie Mays clubhouse, rather than host them at our location. Our solution was to build a mobile tool cabinet/workshop that we can easily transport to any tinkering site.

A work in progress. The cabinet is modular in order to fit through doorways and function as multiple tool stations.

A work in progress. The cabinet is modular in order to fit through doorways and function as multiple tool stations.

Stacked up and ready for storage. The two sides lock together.

Stacked up and ready for storage. The two sides lock together.

The cabinet materials, tools, and supplies for the Boys and Girls Club tinkering program were generously funded by a grant from the Miranda Lux Foundation. A big thank you for helping us share our love of tinkering with more kids!

With our tool cabinet ready to go, we were excited to start tinkering. On day one, we got to know one another and learned about our four Tinkering School goals: collaborate and make friends, make mistakes and learn from them, try harder than usual, and make something bigger than ourselves. We also created some group agreements to outline how we will safely and respectfully treat each other, the tools, and the workshop.

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And finally the moment everyone had been waiting for! Tool training!

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At Tinkering School we first learn how to safely use the chop saw, drills, and clamps. These are the three tools we use the most. Later the kids will learn how to use additional tools as they become needed.  

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With our new skills, it was time to design and plan our project. The kids landed on the fun idea of building a giant dog house that then morphed into a mini clubhouse. We thought through the different dimensions - how tall do we want our clubhouse to be? How wide? What kind of siding do we want to use? Will it have windows?

We came up with a plan and a rough blueprint. Time to start measuring and cutting!

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Over the course of the past few weeks we assembled the frames for our clubhouse walls.  

Malieke and Edward found they could be super productive working together by taking turns drilling and screwing.

Malieke and Edward found they could be super productive working together by taking turns drilling and screwing.

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Next up - sheathing (covering) our walls. The kids discovered the plywood panels helped stabilize the frames - a crucial part of constructing a strong mini clubhouse. Plus they were excited to get a ton of drill practice in!

Another screw? Sure why not!

Another screw? Sure why not!

Reggie standing in as a human clamp. Nice work!

Reggie standing in as a human clamp. Nice work!

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Our tinkerers learned how to use the jig saw to cut out the plywood sheathing panels. It quickly became one of the most popular tools.

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Our mini clubhouse is taking shape and it's looking awesome so far! Check back each week to watch our progress as we install windows, doors, a roof and more! 

Welding Week 7 - Finale!

Welding (Spring 2017)Brendon BellComment

Hard to believe its our last class! With little time remaining, we jumped into our projects with lots of focus and determination.

A few projects had been completed the previous week, so some tinkerers used their time to experiment with different tools and create something small.

Just like wood can get a final sanding, we worked to file our welded sculptures to a final polish.

Drilling and bending metal were a really popular ways of manipulating metal in addition to welding throughout the course. As the tinkerers learned about the different ways they could work with metal, their imaginations took off with the possibilities... 

After 7 weeks of hard work, creativity, learning, and lots of sparks, the tinkerers presented their handiwork to each other and their parents. It's been incredible to see their evolution from hesitant and slightly nervous beginners, to accomplished metal workers, confident in their new welding and metal manipulation skills. 

Check out all the photos from the course at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tinkeringschool/albums/72157678985728654

Elephante-Finale!

Elephant (Spring 2017)Brendon BellComment

Our last class! And still so much to do! With no time to lose, we quickly split into groups and tackled our final tasks to bring our elephant to life. We needed to attach the head to its body, perfect the trunk (aka peanut delivery mechanism), connect the ladder, and much more. 

One group tested several iterations for a trunk mechanism. 

Another group worked on securing the ladder so it was stable and safe for humans big and small to climb. They learned about simple solutions to tricky problems like using a lever to twist eye bolts into the wood.

And finally the moment we had long been waiting for, our elephant's head and body were joined together!

We finished just in time as the parents arrived. Now we could finally see if our elephant could feed its squirrel buddy a peanut!

Before trying it out though, we all discussed safety precautions. What should we be watching and listening for to tell us if something goes wrong? We agreed to stand a safe distance in case our elephant was a bit clumsy and missed the squirrel's basket.

SUCCESS!!!!!! 

And before everyone left, we all got to climb up into our elephant!

It's been a pleasure working on this awesome project with such a dedicated and creative group of young people! 

To check out all the photos from the session visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tinkeringschool/albums/72157678949499344

Second to Last Session: New Tools and Self Direction!

Elephant (Spring 2017)Amanda SimonsComment

Today was the second-to-last session of Thursday After School, and we all started with our best game faces. At the beginning of the afternoon, our elephant that feeds a squirrel to a peanut was in bits and pieces and seriously needed some critical thinking skills and hard work. The bad news, though, everyone had a really long and tiring day today. It was so hard to stay on task and get things done! The good news is that we stuck to it and made some serious progress. 

Welding Week 5: Project Time!

Welding (Spring 2017)Brendon BellComment

In our past classes we learned how to weld a single bead, weld multiple pieces of metal together, cut, bend, and drill metal and much more. Today we put all those skills to practice and had the entire class time to work on our creative projects!

What began as simple design sketches are now taking shape! 

Sometimes the easiest way to make something fit is to file a piece down. 

Drilling holes for screws is one of the most effective ways to attach our metal creations to other materials like wood.

Onward my steely compatriots!

Onward my steely compatriots!

Looking forward to next week and perfecting our new skills as we continue to create epic metal masterpieces! 

Check out all the photos on Flickr!

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