Tinkering School

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Making and Naming Parts

Amanda SimonsComment

Our Wednesday pinball project has rounded the metaphorical corner! We are getting closer and closer to moving from the stage of the project where we construct functional parts to the stage of the project where we can focus on the aesthetic bells and whistles.

But for now, we are still focusing on the functional details.

With that said, when we have a project that requires the construction and then later assembly of multiple small parts, it's important that the Tinkerers decide on names for those parts as we go along. It's so much easier to say "Let's work on the flipper mechanisms!" than "Let's cut out some rounded triangles that we can use to propel the ball when we play." Not only is such a practice a time saver as we build, but it also helps the Tinkerers chunk all that information, all those steps and separate components into something that they can quickly recall and understand as we progress from week to week.

One of the small components that we built this week was a ball catch system -- that is, when someone plays the pinball machine later and the ball passes through the flippers, there needs to be a section to catch the ball so that the player can reload and play again.

I asked a small team to draw out the design they envisioned, and as we started to talk through what it should look like, how it should be shaped, and where it should go, this emerged:

Yes. A three and a half inch wide toilet.

A toilet.

My first reaction was, "A what? Really? Let's be serious here." But, really, the component is actually a toilet shape. There's a bowl, and some sides, and it catches something. The name is easy to remember, and the name recalls the shape and function.

Brilliant!

We will attach and test it next session!

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