Tinkering School

come make amazing things with us

Juniors (Spring 2014)

TSAS Juniors: Bigger Than Yourself

Juniors (Spring 2014)Sean Murray

One of the best things about Tinkering School is: you get to build things bigger than yourself. For older folks, that "bigger" can be pretty metaphorical, but for our youngest, it's almost always literal--a work that is taller, wider, more voluminous, more massive than its creators.

We don't have a good enough writer on staff to get across how stoked our youngest kids (tallest is Owen, 48") were to build a little house, right here in our shop. They've been savoring the project, adding a hinged door, nice handles, furniture and a roof.

Sometimes the joy of having built something SO BIG! just overwhelms the crew. They simply must stop building for a minute, and just go revel in (literally, inside of) what they've built. The kids are super-focused and working very hard, but when you've built a giant house, well, you have to take a minute to drink that in.

Next week is our last week, when the crew will disassemble the house, sweep up, and put the wood back in the bins--for the next kids.

TSAS Juniors: Beginnings of a Tiny House

Juniors (Spring 2014)Sean Murray

Our youngest crew started construction on a house today.

We began by planning the size of the house. We all stood in a blob, and measured the size of a rectangle that could contain our blob to find the area of the house. (It was about 6'x8'). Then we determined the height, based on the height of our tallest builder (not counting Josh and Sean), and decided to place our roof around 50".

With just those three dimensions, we were able to start framing.

Stay tuned as progress continues!

TSAS Juniors: Instruments Learned, We Begin to Write Songs

Juniors (Spring 2014)Sean Murray

Last session, we presented our youngest builders with DC motors, batteries, wire, common school supplies...and very little instruction our direction. It was kind of like giving kids a musical instrument they'd never seen before, and just encouraging them to explore the possibilities.

Franklin and Maite set up the "robot zoo" where their creations will skitter, doodle, waddle, roll, tumble...

This session, our builders came in with a working knowledge of the materials, and clear understanding of what they might build--they had learned their instruments, and were ready to write songs.

It was really satisfying to see the full shift from struggle to mastery, and to see kids catch on to the idea that sharing and copying of ideas can be a very good thing!

TSAS Juniors: Following Curiousity

Juniors (Spring 2014)Sean Murray

On Monday, our youngest builders enjoyed one of our favorite "sandbox" experiences. A table filled with DC motors, batteries, wire, corks, markers, tape is presented, plus a few novel items to keep the experience fresh for collaborators. Kids are given the absolute minimum of instruction, just encouragement to pick up the materials, explore them fearlessly, and copy and share ideas liberally.

After a brief moment of befuddlement -- "Aren't the adults supposed to tell us what to do?" -- kids were off to the races, building machines that walked, sputtered, drew, hummed and lots more that defied categorization.

TSAS Juniors: Teamwork and Clamps

Juniors (Spring 2014)Sean Murray

After learning how to safely use the chop saw and drills last week, we had the whole session to complete our first challenge: build something that, when the kid stands on it, they become taller than the tallest adult.

One of the coolest things about Tinkering School (we think) is the fluidity of groups and teams. We think of it this way: we're all on one large team, responding to one general challenge. We break into smaller groups to explore different solutions in parallel. We pitch in and jump groups when we need to. We share ideas and copy each other freely. We root for each other.

Teamwork is the key to building things bigger than yourself. Clamps are helpful, too.

Tinkering School After School: Juniors

Juniors (Spring 2014)Sean Murray

Today was the first day of the Spring session of Tinkering School After School Juniors!

In this class, kids will get to use real tools and work together to build things bigger than themselves.

We started class with safety training on two of the shop's most basic tools: the chop saw and drills.

After safety training, we began our first challenge: Build something that, when you stand on it, makes you as tall as Josh or Sean. This exercise was a good first foray into the Tinkering School format: the challenges and themes are very clear, the solutions are open-ended and limited only by kids' imaginations.

Stay tuned!

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