Tinkering School

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Tractor (Spring 2016)

Wednesday - Week 8 - The Final Tractoring

Tractor (Spring 2016)Evan BarnesComment

The last day of Wednesday After School! Straight off the bat, the tinkerer's wanted to add seat belts for safety. This was a great idea, and we used a combination of rope, eyebolts, carabiners, and bungees to create strong, secure seat belts.

Testing the seat belts.

Our original plans for our tractor called for it be a barrel-moving tractor, so we quickly added some grabber arms as well.

More seat belt and grabber arm testing.

We decided that the tractor also needed a name and license plate.

Make that several license plates!

Final testing! The tractor moved well and even moved barrels! Everyone got a chance to ride it, and it was a true joy to see it all come together! 

Tractor Time (WED) - Week 7

Tractor (Spring 2016)Caroline ScanlanComment

Hi families and fans! Last session, we finished our afternoon of tinkering with a fully functional steam-roller tractor! Check out this collection of photos to see snapshots from our day:

A few tinkerers were hard at work crafting "shaft collars" to keep the tractor wheels from sliding around on their axils. Here, a tinkerer uses the drill press to cut big, even, round holes into a piece of 2x3.

Next, cutting the 2x3 into segments for each "collar."

Now, drilling holes for screws that will give the collars a tight squeeze for gripping the metal axil and keeping the wheel from sliding.

Check it out! This is what it looks like at the end of the day:

Meanwhile, other tinkerers are attaching the top of the tractor cab. 


It's those tricky angled holes again!

Adding more structural support for the body to keep it from wiggling.

And finally, building the bench!

We accomplished all of our major tasks for the day! Awesome! We're excited for our final week to give the tractor some finishing touches :)

Team Tractor (WED) - Week 6

Tractor (Spring 2016)Caroline ScanlanComment

Whoa! Our creation is actually starting to look like a TRACTOR!!!

We worked on the top of the tractor cab today - the piece with double-angle wood cuts! 

We ran into some challenges when trying to attach those pesky, angled boards. We practiced drilling a primer hole ("a bee sting") and then drilling down at an angle. By the time we attached all four pieces, our tinkerers were pro's at this tricky task!

Because our tractor spent most of its time on its back today, we didn't have a chance to drill it in on top. We'll get to that next week!

In the meantime, we began to imagine what our tractor seats like look like. We needed to shift our perspective to imagine our tractor right-side-up.

We crafted a small set of designs that we'll consolidate next week. The consistent features in all of our plans include: supports, a back, and cushions!

The steam-roller-barrel-wheel group also had their fair share of tinkering done today. They had a chance to use the corded drill for extra "oomph" to create those thick wholes for our wheel axils. 

We realized that we didn't have enough nuts of the right size to secure our thread-rod axils, so next week, the team will build some custom wood nuts!

Wednesday After School - Day 5

Tractor (Spring 2016)Caroline ScanlanComment


Today, we set out to stabilize our tractor frame, build out the top of the cab, and continue turning those barrels in to wheels!!!

We really got to practice our miter cut skillz while we made diagonal cuts both for structural support beams and for the tractor's roof (more on that later). Here, you can see us gearing up to attach the diagonal beams to prevent the tractor from wiggling and wobbling:

We also made loads of progress on our barrel wheels today. We cut out the bottom of the first barrel using the jig saw and attached the pre-cut spokes one-by-one. 

We encountered a few "mister dangerouses" (misplaced, pokey screws), and self-corrected along the way:


Another mishap from the day - a giant stuck drill bit! Evan was finally able to push the bit out using our biggest power drill in the shop!

Eventually, we ended up creating a super wheel with elegant spokes. We can't wait to attach it to its axil next week!

Meanwhile, other tinkerers were hard at work creating the supports for our tractor's roof. Last week, we decided to take on the challenge of making double-angle cuts, so today, we picked up right where we left off. 

Here they are after one pass through the chop saw (next, we adjusted the saw angle to line everything up on both sides!) :

And after our final cuts...everything matches perfectly:

And finally, we couldn't help ourselves from having a sweet time and jamming to some imaginary tunes :)

Wednesday After School - Day 3 - Wheels and a Cab!

Tractor (Spring 2016)Evan BarnesComment

Today we got right into it and started building the frame and wheels for our tractor! We've got to move some big barrels with this machine, so the parts of it have to be sized to match.

After a quick design session, the frame team and the wheel teams broke off and got to work. With the initial dimensions of the tractor cab's frame figured out, Teia and Nelly wrote out a cut list so they could make the parts. Once the parts were made, fabrication of the frame began. In order to carry the weight of the machine itself and the barrels, the frame will need to be exceptionally strong. Junior collaborator Jack contributed some of his expertise and helped Minh make the corners of the frame rock solid.

While the frame team built, the wheel team spent some extra time thinking about the design challenge of making wheels. After a bit of thought we realized that the very barrels we wanted to move with the tractor could also serve as it's wheels! This means we'll have something of a tractor/steam roller hybrid, which should be sturdy and sounds awesome. Our first wheel was pretty simple to make: we just stuck some all thread rod right through center of the lid and barrel bottom for a perfect axle.

That was one wheel taken care of, but the next one proved to be a greater challenge. We couldn't find a second piece of thread rod that was long enough to go all the way through the barrel, so we finally decided to try using two small rods, one on each side of the barrel. This necessitated building spokes in the top of the barrel to support the short axle. We didn't finish the spokes yet, but the design looks like it will work, and we'll try to finish it next time!

Wednesday After School - Day 2

Tractor (Spring 2016)Caroline ScanlanComment

This week, we received the information that we had all been waiting for - this session, we'll be building a...

TRACTOR! What kind of tractor? We weren't sure yet! This is where our creative tinkering minds came in!

Here at Tinkering School, we always begin each project with a giant group design process. We have no idea where any of our projects  will go until we get the input from all of the brains in the room! We start with 10 minutes of independent ideation before sharing our brainstorming with the entire team. Each person has a chance to share at least one idea before a group design starts taking shape.

Here, you can see us getting our ideas onto paper:

And sharing our individual ideas with the group:

Check out how many ideas we developed! After sifting through our awesome brainstorm, we decided to build a tractor with two moving parts and room for two kid-sized operators! We're going to build a tractor that can pick up giant barrels in two different ways!

We spent the rest of the afternoon experimenting with how we might actually make those moving parts for our tractor. We use loose screws, bolts with washers and nuts, and a spinning skateboard wheel to model and test our ideas. Check it out:

Wednesday After School - Day 1

Tractor (Spring 2016)Lindsay JonesComment

Today was tool training day for our Wednesday group!

An important part of being safe is having the proper safety gear for each tool. This usually means safety glasses ALL the time.

Evan and Silas make sure their safety glasses aren't too big!

Evan and Silas make sure their safety glasses aren't too big!

For the chopsaw we need earmuffs and...

An adult!

While using the chopsaw is something that the kids practice on their own. The drills are a great opportunity to collaborate and to try harder on your own.

At the end of the day we asked the kids to raise their hands if they had a story about accomplishing one of our Tinkering School goals: Collaborating with others, Trying harder than usual, Learning from mistakes, and Building something bigger than yourself. Everyone could think of one moment when they had accomplished one of our goals and most kids had done two or three of them!

We are off to a great start!

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