Tinkering School

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B&GClub - M (Winter 2018)

Carnival - Week 5 - Boys & Girls Clubs - Mission Clubhouse

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

Are you ready to get dizzy!? The Mission clubhouse teams made lots of progress on their spinning gravitron as well as their rocket ship swings!

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To make sure the gravitron doesn’t spin itself apart, the team decided it would be good to add some cross supports. The task provided an excellent opportunity to practice using clamps.

 WHOOO! It spins!

WHOOO! It spins!

One of the rocket ship crews was able to cut out their bottom hatch. They chose a square instead of a circle to distinguish their rocket from the other crew’s.

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Amanda and Joanna are now pros at using the jig saw. It’s so great to see kids quickly become proficient and comfortable using power tools. All that’s required is a little encouragement and lots of opportunities to practice!

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The circle hatch rocket team was able to successfully finish attaching their floor to the frame.

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After standing on it and testing its strength, the team discovered that they needed to cut and attach some more cross supports to prevent the floor from bending underfoot.

With a few more weeks to go in the session, the carnival rides are quickly approaching test riding time… so exciting! Stay tuned to see the kids hard at work next week and in the meantime visit our Flickr page to check out more of the tinkering action!

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!

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... :)

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!

Train Bridge - Week 6 - Boys & Girls Club - Mission Clubhouse

B&GClub - M (Winter 2018)Brendon BellComment

Rollin, rollin, rollin!

Technically, our train cars aren't quite rolling yet, but with this crew's enthusiasm and hard work, we're going to be speeding over a bridge in no time. And we'll be riding in style! 

 So far, there's a terrifying shark car, a speeding taco car, and now a rowboat car (I hope this isn't in anticipation of a train derailing while going over our new Golden Gate Bridge...) 

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Focus and precision personified :)

 Nearly ready for some oars...

Nearly ready for some oars...

Anthony and Alberto learned how to use the T-square to easily make super straight lines. They used their new skills to measure and cut out some front and back panels for the shark car. 

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Once the back panel was cut, Marco had a flash of inspiration. Instead of just screwing it onto the frame, why not make it into a door that connect and open into another car! He gave a very detailed description of his vision, but he wasn't quite sure how to execute it. This is one of our key jobs and privileges as a collaborator. To watch the lightbulb go off in a child and support their flash of inspiration by giving just enough technical support to help them translate their vision into real life.

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It's a joy every time we get to witness a kid's awareness expand around what they're capable of!

We also encourage lying around on the job at tinkering school...

 Julian screws in some tricky screws, attaching one of the taco shells to the car frame. 

Julian screws in some tricky screws, attaching one of the taco shells to the car frame. 

While the train car team continued fabricating their luxury mobiles, our bridge team managed to finish the second bridge tower! 

 See the screw bucket? It may not seem important, but it's a key tinkering tool for keeping our work space safe. (Screws rolling on the ground function very similarly to banana peels...)

See the screw bucket? It may not seem important, but it's a key tinkering tool for keeping our work space safe. (Screws rolling on the ground function very similarly to banana peels...)

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With the towers completed, the bridge crew will begin construction of the roadway next week. It's going to be a real bridge in just a flash!  

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Only two more weeks to go. Where did the time run off to? Keep checking our weekly blog posts, the best is still yet to come!

Train Bridge - Week 5 - Boys & Girls Club - Mission Clubhouse

B&GClub - M (Winter 2018)Brendon BellComment

Who say's kids don't like to work hard??? 

This crew works so hard, they don't even realize they're working at all! Sshh... don't tell them ;) They may be working hard, but really they're playing hard while building. To sum this all up, let's stick with the highly scientific equation: (Tinkering = Building + Play). And this is one serious group of tinkerers!

So, to catch you up to speed, our bridge crew jumped into building the second set of towers that will support the opposite side of the bridge. I have a strong suspicion that they're able to get so much done because of their impressive teamwork...

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 Edwin cuts more pieces for the square frames Jazmine is assembling (left photo).

Edwin cuts more pieces for the square frames Jazmine is assembling (left photo).

And in the meantime, every square inch of the train cars was getting measured!

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We needed to use the measurements from the cars to draw out the side pieces. 

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You may recognize the shell of the "speed taco" car train on your left...

Our shark train car team also made lots of progress. They learned how to use the jig saw to cut out the side panels. It was especially tricky because of all the teeth!

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 Alberto drills out the eyes.

Alberto drills out the eyes.

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Aaaahhh! I would be terrified to see that shark train arriving at a bart station...just sayin...

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And not to be forgotten, our sign makers dedicated the whole session to perfecting their creations...

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One side of the wood rasp is slightly curved, the other is flat. Ailey and Elina learned when to use either option while they smoothed down the edges on their signs.

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 And a final treatment with sandpaper...

And a final treatment with sandpaper...

 Ailey's wooden duck. Is it still a sign? or will it float under the Golden Gate Bridge? I know it floats at least!   I'm not sure what it will end up being, but I definitely want to find out! 

Ailey's wooden duck. Is it still a sign? or will it float under the Golden Gate Bridge? I know it floats at least! 

I'm not sure what it will end up being, but I definitely want to find out! 

At the end of each tinkering session, we like to gather for a few minutes to debrief what we've learned and to share our progress. It's a great time to reflect on challenges we've overcome and to set intentions for our next day together.

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Look at how much we can build when we work together! (and this is only part of the bridge...)

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Can't wait till our next tinkering time together! And stay tuned - this bridge and train are being built fast!

Train Bridge - Week 4 - Boys & Girls Club - Mission Clubhouse

B&GClub - M (Winter 2018)Brendon BellComment

Whoa! San Francisco (in year 2100) is lucky to have this super hard working team building them a new Golden Gate Bridge. It's growing soo fast!  

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Once we finished a couple towers, we needed to figure out a way to attach them to each other so they would be stable. We remembered that a lot of big bridges have X's between their towers so we decided that would probably be a good way to go with ours too. 

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Clamps proved to be a key tool for this part of the build. There were so many pieces to hold in place!

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And the first X support is attached! This is going to be a very sturdy bridge.

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A couple members of our crew decided that it was important that our bridge have some signs. What bridge doesn't!? So they jumped into action drawing and cutting out their designs. They were very excited to learn how to use a new tool - the bandsaw! 

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And our train team worked like a pro factory production line. They had their train car frames completed in no time!

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 Julian going back for more screws. We always use buckets to hold screws and drill bits so they don't end up rolling around on the floor waiting for shoes to also roll over them...

Julian going back for more screws. We always use buckets to hold screws and drill bits so they don't end up rolling around on the floor waiting for shoes to also roll over them...

Tada!!

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And our train crew even had time to start honing in on their individual train car designs. There's going to be a shark car, a bird car, and one of my favorites...

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...the SPEED TACO train car!

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Stay tuned next week - you don't want to miss these tinkerers in action!

Train Bridge - Week 3 - Boys & Girls Club - Mission Clubhouse

B&GClub - M (Winter 2018)Brendon BellComment

Another week of tinkering and our futuristic Golden Gate Bridge is growing tall and our train is one step closer to rolling!

Before each session the kids decide which project team they want to collaborate with. A big focus of Tinkering School is to empower kids to make choices for themselves - not only technical/building choices, but also choosing what activity they want to participate in. 

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With our teams assembled, the first step for the bridge crew was completing the top and bottom frames of the towers. 

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We had lots of opportunities to practice our cuts! 

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Once they had their square frames, the kids attached them to 8foot long 2x3 vertical supports. Yet again they did an amazing job of embodying our Tinkering School goal of collaborating and working well together!

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...and Voila! One side of our first tower is standing. Smiles all around :)

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Our industrious train team meanwhile was busy measuring and cutting more pieces to build the box frames for each of the cars.

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 Quickly learning how to work smarter - not harder, measuring once for multiple pieces.

Quickly learning how to work smarter - not harder, measuring once for multiple pieces.

 So many squares!

So many squares!

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We saw lots more great examples of collaboration and working through mistakes. In fact we welcome mistakes! We think they create opportunities to learn such as one duo who quickly discovered the importance of measuring a screw against the wood they're drilling/attaching. If we don't check, a screw not be quite long enough to connect both pieces of wood.

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Measuring the ideal height for the train car frames. Sometimes its helpful to try it on for size :) 

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 And our first frame is done!

And our first frame is done!

Thanks for another great week of tinkering Mission clubhouse! Looking forward to seeing what you create next week. And for all of you out there, keep checking in week to week to see our progress!

Train Bridge - Week 2 - Boys & Girls Club - Mission Clubhouse

B&GClub - M (Winter 2018)Brendon BellComment

The year is 2100...

...and after so many years the Golden Gate Bridge needs to be replaced! The mayor of San Francisco has asked our hardworking group of tinkerers to help fix this desperate problem. Will they take up the challenge?

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Thankfully for all the residents of SF and Marin, there was no arm pulling needed to inspire this crew to take up their tools. They enthusiastically agreed not only to build a new bridge but also a train that can transport people over it. Whoohoo! Time to build! 

...but wait...what's our plan?

As excited as everyone was to grab a drill, we agreed that we should probably first create a plan for what our bridge and train should look like. So we split into groups and sketched out our ideas.

 Looks like our bridge will need lots of cables, triangle supports and lights.

Looks like our bridge will need lots of cables, triangle supports and lights.

 Our train stretched out to include four cars!

Our train stretched out to include four cars!

 Reggie and our train engineers figuring out dimensions for their first cuts.

Reggie and our train engineers figuring out dimensions for their first cuts.

 How wide will our train be? Can it fit on the bridge?

How wide will our train be? Can it fit on the bridge?

With our rough blueprints, we were finally ready to build!

This crew has some serious energy. So much cutting, measuring, drilling...

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Its great to see the kids problem solving and coming up with short cuts. Why not measure all three pieces at once!?

We had LOTS of pieces to cut. Everyone got some good practice with the chop saw!

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 The train car frames are coming along nicely!

The train car frames are coming along nicely!

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The bridge crew worked hard assembling the tops and bottoms of the towers. 

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In addition to making a ton of progress, it was even more a pleasure to see so much awesome collaboration going on. As Reggie likes to say, "teamwork makes the dream work!"

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What a productive and fun day! We're super excited to see our futuristic Golden Gate Bridge and train take shape. Stay tuned next week to follow our progress!

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