Tinkering School

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Makers (Winter 2014)

Makers Workshop Seniors

Makers (Winter 2014)Sean Murray

Dexter, Ethan, Reid and Trent are a great problem-solving team. In nine ninety-minute sessions, the conceived, designed and built a working drawbridge spanning 16 feet.

Our last work session was like all those before it, but more so--collaborative, fun, focused and full of meaty problems to tackles together.

When the last screw was driven, we had a working drawbridge. Pulley systems made raising and lowering the platforms very easy, and our precision in construction payed off--the two sections of the bridge meshed flawlessly.

Many thanks to these four young builders--we can't wait to see what you guys do next!

Makers Workshop Seniors: No Nonsense

Makers (Winter 2014)Sean Murray

TodayWe were Makers-on-a-mission today. Reid, Trent and Ethan (Dex was out) had started in on the second drawbridge landing by 3:58, two minutes before the official start of class.

This was our second-to-last session. Heady design work is mostly done, and we have a clear, large-but-doable list of construction and assembly tasks ahead.

By the end of the day, we had two walkways, a pulley system, one landing completed, and one landing almost done. We have one session left to complete a working drawbridge.

Completion on a Go-Kart, First Steps on Furniture

Makers (Winter 2014)Sean Murray

After three weeks of work, Jah-Amiel finished his go-kart today! At six, he's one of our youngest makers, but has shown awesome focus and enjoyed helping hands from Bella, Ethan, Ruben and Quentin. When they tok his go-cart out for testing, class pretty much shut down for five minutes to savor the sweet (pushed) ride and tight turning radius.

Minette and Kielson continued throwing bold tempera on their framing stud sculptures, while Lincoln, Sawyer and Ethan started on a wall, a stool and a desk (respectively). 

Finishing the Landing and Attaching the Footpath!

Makers (Winter 2014)Sean Murray

We began today by splitting into two groups: Ethan and Dexter finished blocking the landing (the part of the drawbridge that does not move) while Sean and Trent built the landing's bottom rim and vertical posts.

We assembled the landing and--it fit! Can't say enough about the precision required to build a thing in modules, then have those modules actually fit together!

Then we attached the footpath (the part that draws up and down) to the deck--another great mate!

With the last moments of class we started in the pulley system that will raise and lower the footpath.

Platforms Finished, On to the Tower

Makers (Winter 2014)Sean Murray

We started the session by finishing the second drawbridge platform. Carpentry, for our older, more experienced team, is fairly easy.

Planning exactly what we're going to build, however, is hard. Said another way, drills and chop saws are straightforward, and tell us exactly how to use them. Pencils and paper ask more of us and our imagination.

We drew possibilities for our drawbridge's towers for a solid fifteen minutes--a huge amount of sustained focus.

We've realized the chain of dependent events in construction, and have drawn the elements up next in greatest detail, with increasing room for flexibility/response to emerging problems down the road.

Makers Workshop: Doodling with Axles

Makers (Winter 2014)Sean Murray

Class continued apace with our young builders continuing their explorations of axles. We started class witha few minutes of team bubble-wrap popping (just for fun).

This last photo says a lot about the atmosphere here at Tinkering School, and the things that are even more important than building cool stuff.

Nathan and Hugo are friends, frequent collaborators and veteran tinkerers. Last week, they set out to spell out their names in wood. This afternoon, Nathan was unable to come to the shop. So his buddy, Hugo, worked not just on his name, but on his absent friend's name, as well.

Makers Workshop Seniors: Drawbridge Platforms

Makers (Winter 2014)Sean Murray

Makers Workshop Seniors is a place where more experienced tinkerers can take on complex projects and learn advanced building techniques.

Before the break, we had designed and cut parts for the platforms of our first big projects: a drawbridge. Returning to a complex project after a three-week holiday break was like trying to construct a jig-saw puzzle that you'd made yourself.

The experience level allows us to do some special things--like work with music playing, and each use two drills (one with a drill bit, one with a driver bit.

We also work hard to achieve a smooth flow of labor.

The session was hugely productive--we assembled the first platform, cut and assembled the second, then had a break chat about the notorious Kansas City Walkway Collapse. And, of course, cleaned up.

Makers Workshop: First Sessions

Makers (Winter 2014)Sean Murray

In Makers Workshop, our goal is to become better at turning our ideas into reality. Our first sessions have focused on increasing our vocabulary of tools and exploring some of the basic concepts of building.

This image says a lot about Quentin, one of our youngest--he moves so fast, he's a blur! Here,

This image says a lot about Quentin, one of our youngest--he moves so fast, he's a blur! Here, "Q" practices drilling.

Isabella uses her beloved chop saw as Ethan protects his hearing protection.
Hugo and Nathan, background, are two buddies who have spent many great afternoons at Tinkering School. During the first week's intro, they worked on spelling one another's names in 2x4.
Jah-Amiel and Noah use the drill press to make precise holes for their rolling cart.
Josh holds forth on using the speed square to mark a cut. Never have kids been so riveted in drawing a line!

First Steps on the Drawbridge

Makers (Winter 2014)Sean Murray

Dexter, Ethan and Reid began work on a drawbridge today (Trent couldn't make it).

The "Seniors" class began the project with lots of forethought and drawing.

It was great to see so much respect for the task ahead. We got in a solid 30 minutes of fabrication on the first platform, and hope to complete both platforms next session.

Makers Workshop Seniors

Makers (Winter 2014)Sean Murray

Today was a Tinkering School milestone--our first ever Seniors class, where experienced Tinkerers could come to strengthen their skills in the company of fellow veterans.

Dexter and Josh assemble the frame of a rolling table.

For our first meeting, we wanted to 

a) determine levels of comfort and competency with clamps, drills and the chop saw

b) give our makers a taste of building at "senior"-level precision, efficiency and quality.

So, we challenged the Seniors to build a rolling cart for our building's pet tortoise--durable enough to withstand abuse from younger kids, light enough to roll easily, and stable enough to safely house a living thing.

We completed the cart with just enough time to brainstorm our next project...

After completing the tortoise cart, Dexter, Ethan, Reid and Trent sit down to brainstorm their next project.

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