Tinkering School

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Middles (Spring 2014)

Thanks TSAS Middles

Middles (Spring 2014)Sean Murray

Huge admiration and appreciation to our 8ish-10ish tinkerers. They fearlessly took on a tough projects, learned from the failures, and shared the successes with one another.

Here are some photos from our last meeting:

It was a real pleasure working with you all; continue being awesome!

TSAS Middles: Boats That Float (but don't steer!)

Middles (Spring 2014)Sean Murray

After weeks of design and careful building, we filled one of our home-made gutters with water today--and it worked! Just one drip, at a frequency of less than once per second--better than lots of bathtubs!

With our calm, plywood sea out on the Bryant Street sidewalk, design of motorized boats began in earnest.

The boat-making was a really honest representation of prototyping and collegiality. It seemed like every builder was experimenting with different takes on hulls, keels/fins and propellers. Most importantly, kids were freely sharing, mixing and matching their ideas and work. "Can I put my propeller on this boat?" and "Let's see what happens with a smaller fin." Good stuff to hear.

In another very honest representation of prototyping, none of the designs really, well, worked. Boats sputtered and floundered, propellers pulled water in the wrong direction, hot glue construction tore itself apart. We are failing our way towards a more reliable boat, and enjoying the frustration and challenge.

TSAS Middles: Gutters Coming Together!

Middles (Spring 2014)Sean Murray

After having our ranks decimated by spring break, it was great to have the full crew back together for some serious gutter building.

We had teams focused on mass-production of the gutters' stilts, capping the open ends of the gutters, and assembling the whole garbanzo. 

Sometimes kids are intrigued by the tools hanging on our tool wall, and want to try using them--regardless of whether that tool is needed for the project. And that's totally fine! Trying new tools is a way to "practice at learning"--and add a new skill to your vocabulary.

Soon we'll be building tiny boats to race in the gutters.

TSAS Middles: Building Gutters for a Boat Race

Middles (Spring 2014)Sean Murray

After extensive prototyping, we started in on production of the full-size gutters for our boat race.

"Yes, Josh, but what if we did it this way..."

It was a lean crew, our ranks decimated by spring break trips. The tiny crew had a great vibe and workflow, and were able to cheer one another through tough problems and moments of wandering focus.

With Bella cranking out precise pieces for the gutters' stilts and Gio, Travis and Elijah on assembly, we produce a stable, standing 8' length of "boat racetrack"!

Stay tuned!

TSAS Middles: Gutter Tests

Middles (Spring 2014)Sean Murray

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

― Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan

Our big picture project is a boat race: we'll make tiny boats that race through gutters, right here in our shop. But this big picture is more of a big mosaic, made of many tiny elements.

The first is development of a water-tight gutter.

Today we tested three different prototypes, then met as a group to decide on a design that incorporated strengths from all three.

Next week we'll go into production mode on the gutters!

TSAS Middles: Chemistry and Gutter Prototypes

Middles (Spring 2014)Sean Murray

We started the day with a little chemistry experiment.

Jonah had brought in a vial of manganese dioxide that he'd harvested, himself, from batteries. We used some hydrogen peroxide to create an ectothermic reaction with water and oxygen as the products.

It was cool, and involved steam.

Then we began on our next project--a boat race. Because we're about 2 miles from the Bay and 5 miles from the Ocean, our boat race will take place indoors, with very tiny boats.

So our first step was to create gutters for the boats to race in.

We broke into three design teams, shared design ideas, and then began prototyping short sample sections of the different gutter designs.

Next week we'll complete the gutter samples and test them to see which are most watertight!

TSAS Middles: Taller in Many Ways

Middles (Spring 2014)Sean Murray

The team was very confident that they could meet our warm-up challenge (build something that makes you taller than junior collaborator Nik, who stands at a vertiginous 6' 1"...and growing).

So, they decided to push themselves to meet the challenge in interesting ways.

We saw a triangular stool, a set of modular platforms and even stilts!

Stay tuned for our next project!

Tinkering School After School: Middles

Middles (Spring 2014)Sean Murray

In the first day of Tinkering School After School Middles, we learned how to safely use the drills and chop saw, and started on our first challenge.

In Tinkering School, collaborators present kids with a problem (or theme). The solution to the problem (or expression of the theme) is open-ended, and determined by the young builders.

We're warming up with a mini-challenge: build something that, when you stand on it, makes you taller than Nik, our altudinous junior collaborator!

The kids got right to work on solutions as different as they were creative.

Stay tuned for more!

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