Tinkering School

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Slide (Spring 2015)

Work Hard, Play Hard

Slide (Spring 2015)Amanda SimonsComment

Sometimes, it's really, really, hard to concentrate when you know you're building something functional, exciting, and eventually really, really, fun to play with. 

Sometimes, it's really, really, hard to imagine that after 9 weeks of cutting, and drilling, and problem-solving, that you'll get a chance to play.

Sometimes, the work itself is really, really, hard. 

It's hard to drill and drive screws when you're attaching something above your shoulders. Just like it's really difficult to twist a clamp closed and secure when you've been gripping a drill for 60 minutes. 

It's hard to make giant holes in thick pieces of wood. And, it's difficult to work in close confines. Sometimes, working with other people is really, really, hard. 

Lifting and moving structures that are way taller than you requires lots of hands, and sometimes it's really, really, hard to work together as a team. And, sometimes the tasks are tedious. For example, it requires 4 eye hooks, and a 3 foot rod to connect a ladder to a platform? And then, we have to do the same to connect the slide? 

I can only speak for myself, but during these after school sessions, it's sometimes really, really, hard to imagine how these small builders keep their focus, attention, and energy up. It's sometimes really, really, hard to keep in mind that we're building something functional and fun. The work is hard. Almost every day. 

And then, on the last day of the Thursday session, we finished our project. In that moment, the Tinkerers suddenly transformed from hard working, focused, problem-solving, construction workers and innovators, and into laughing, smiling, screaming kids that were really, really, proud of their completed project!

Thursday Slide was a major success!

Small Numbers / Big Progress

Slide (Spring 2015)Amanda SimonsComment

The Thursday After School Slide Builders are so close to finishing their working slide!

Today we set the goals of putting the platform in the air, as well as figuring out how to attach the slide. And even though we were missing some Tinkerers this week, everyone worked together to make tons of progress!

 Some awesome team drilling / screwing together the base for our slide platform!

Some awesome team drilling / screwing together the base for our slide platform!

 Team clamping the platform stand. 

Team clamping the platform stand. 

 Attaching the eyebolts to the bottom of the platform -- they will later help us attach the slide to the platform. 

Attaching the eyebolts to the bottom of the platform -- they will later help us attach the slide to the platform. 

 Josh demonstrates how to make a large hole using the tools the Tinkerers are already familiar with. 

Josh demonstrates how to make a large hole using the tools the Tinkerers are already familiar with. 

 At the end of the session, the Tinkerers show off their airborne platform. With some final adjustments, next week we will be able to use our project for the first time!

At the end of the session, the Tinkerers show off their airborne platform. With some final adjustments, next week we will be able to use our project for the first time!

User Detailing Done Well

Slide (Spring 2015)Nathan SavoyComment

As Thursday's group gears up for the final assembly of our slide components this week we took advantage of our progress by placing a focus on the slides' details. The afternoon began with us splitting into two groups. One worked on placing a slippery protective coating over our slide (to prevent users bottoms from splinters) and the other focused on adding the final touches to the platform. Through our detailing efforts both groups had the opportunity to be introduced to some new items in the shop. 

 Miel and Kyra learn how a finishing washer added to a screw will help attach the new coating to the slide without tearing through the plastic. 

Miel and Kyra learn how a finishing washer added to a screw will help attach the new coating to the slide without tearing through the plastic. 

 Max manages the electric PVC cutter to size the pipe so it can be secured into place between the platforms' "fences".

Max manages the electric PVC cutter to size the pipe so it can be secured into place between the platforms' "fences".

Next we came together as one group to cut and attach the slide "siders" to prevent the user from falling over when going down. Working together we found pieces of 2x6, cut, carried and attached them to the slide. 

With about ten minutes remaining the group deliberated on what to do next. Despite the overwhelming interest in painting we didn't have quite enough time to delve into the the brushes and pallets this week and still have time to clean up. So we kept with the theme of the day and begun drawing and cutting out cardboard stars to be hung from the top of the platform (almost like streamers) before sliding back down to earth. Is it just me or does this slide seem ready to rise up into the sky!?!   

Form and Function

Slide (Spring 2015)Amanda SimonsComment

The Thursday After School Tinkerers were in an interesting position this week. We've been building separate components of our slide project with the intention of assembling them all at the same time. The form will only be functional at the very last moment. So, how can we test the function without fully assembling it? How can we anticipate our needs without actually experiencing the thing? What can we do right now that will make our project safe, fun, and also functional later?

Speculation and controlled testing is key from here on out. This week was about making the platform (our bridge between the ladder and the slide) both safe and fun.

We constructed sides so we don't fall out.

We started installing a pipe to grab on to before sliding down the slide.

We are installing some handles and things to grab on to as we climb up the ladder and on to the platform.

And because we can't really, fully, test the function of the project right now, imagination is necessary and also a critical component of our next steps.

Safety From the Ground Up

Slide (Spring 2015)Nathan SavoyComment

Today the Thursday crew moved on to constructing a new component for our group project. With the framing for both the ladder and slide completed we began our afternoon discussing how we would attach the two together. It was evident that we needed somewhere to sit before sliding down so we went to work on building a platform sturdy enough to be raised five feet above the ground.

  Taking   a seat   to recap our progress, set some goals and design the   platform.

Taking a seat to recap our progress, set some goals and design the platform.

 Josie, Miel and Cecile take the lead on sheathing the platform. 

Josie, Miel and Cecile take the lead on sheathing the platform. 

The group's keen sense for safety applied last week when choosing the thickness of the wood we would use to sheath the raised platform reappeared this afternoon when we designed a fence to line the platform. More framing, cutting and attaching called upon this group of tinker's greatest asset, teamwork! 

With one of the platform fences mounted we took a break to test it's stability to discover it wasn't very stable at all. When adding more screws didn't correct the fences wobble we decided we needed to extend the vertical supports to the bottom of the platforms frame. Thankfully we had built a frame for the fence so it wasn't much of a setback. Prepared with a solid understating of what to do next the group organically gave rise to three new teams: disassembly, cutting the new vertical's and reassembly.  

 Ryder takes measurements for the new length of vertical supports for the platforms fence.  

Ryder takes measurements for the new length of vertical supports for the platforms fence.  

Even with the redesign we finished the day with one side of the new fence mounted to platform before it was time to clean up!  

Thursday Teamwork

Slide (Spring 2015)Amanda SimonsComment

The Tinkerers are finding out that their project -- a slide -- seems simple, but is actually very complicated. There are a lot of parts, and the parts have smaller parts, and it takes a lot of work to build and then also attach everything together. That said, Thursday was filled with lots of opportunity for building teamwork! 

Here are a few of my favorite moments from the day:

 We measured as a team! 

We measured as a team! 

 We clamped as a team!

We clamped as a team!

 We carried huge pieces of wood as a team!

We carried huge pieces of wood as a team!

 We also learned to safely operate a new tool as a team.

We also learned to safely operate a new tool as a team.

Going Up Before Coming Down

Slide (Spring 2015)Nathan SavoyComment

On the second Thursday of Tinkering School we released our project with a little history. At Tinkering school we had built structures that rolled and ones that kids rolled on. We had built structures that climbed into the air and ones that rose kids into the air. And although we had built structures that slid we had yet to build a slide for kids. So taking a cue from the playground we are going to build a slide. 

 Max explains to Isaac the how to operate some of the more complex features of this design

Max explains to Isaac the how to operate some of the more complex features of this design

Immediately the group got straight to drawing slides. Some were shaped like mythical creatures with articulated wings, others twisted through tunnels and a few even incorporated special features like hanging bars and water. Everyone was awesome at both listening and sharing their ideas as we all collaborated to design one slide that incorporated as many different design features as possible. 

 With so many great ideas some kinds got up out of their seats to get a closer look when explaining their designs.

With so many great ideas some kinds got up out of their seats to get a closer look when explaining their designs.

With about nearly half the session remaining we decided to start building.  But where to begin? We all agreed that a ladder was going to be necessary to reach the top of the slide so we broke into groups to determine some necessary measurements. 

 Building big! Max gets pretty excited about building a slide taller then Amanda.

Building big! Max gets pretty excited about building a slide taller then Amanda.

 Using what works. Miel spots an existing ladder in the shop and decides to use it to help guide her measurements to determine rung length. 

Using what works. Miel spots an existing ladder in the shop and decides to use it to help guide her measurements to determine rung length. 

 Measurements translate into marks. Tinkers measure scraps of wood looking for one long enough to mark the ladders first vertical length to be cut on the chop saw. 

Measurements translate into marks. Tinkers measure scraps of wood looking for one long enough to mark the ladders first vertical length to be cut on the chop saw. 

This group is so on board with dividing up tasks and helping each other to achieve a common goal! One pair switched off making all the rung cuts while another took on the responsibility to transporting pieces to the drill teams working on assembly. Workflow maintained momentum throughout the entire afternoon. Once the cut list was complete, everyone transitioned to helping with fitting all the pieces together.  

 Putting it all together. With all hands helping we finished our ladder on the first day of building. Go team! 

Putting it all together. With all hands helping we finished our ladder on the first day of building. Go team! 

Relative Measurements vs. Numeric Fractions

Slide (Spring 2015)Amanda SimonsComment

This week, Thursday's After School group was small in numbers, but very productive! Having completed the latter for our slide last week, we decided that the next step was to begin building the actual slide.

During our original design phase, there was much talk of the surface of the slide... will it be plastic? foam? bubblewrap? wood? This week, we determined that regardless of the surface, there definitely needs to be a structure to hold that surface up. We started that structure today. 

Some of our measurements were relative, and some were very precise.

Relative: the width of the slide. ("Wide enough to fit an adult bottom!")
(Semi-)Precise: the width between the structural rungs. (Measuring and dividing won out over "the width of a 7 year old hand!")

We measured, cut, and marked up the structure. With it partially assembled, we are ready to finish it up next week!

Teamwork and Conquering Fears

Slide (Spring 2015)Amanda SimonsComment

New people, a new space, and new tools can be pretty intimidating on the first day of anything. The first day of Tinkering School is all of those things at once, and we kicked off the Thursday's spring After School with learning about each other, the shop, and the tools we will be using most often. 

The chop saw is one of the most dangerous tools we use, and training consisted of learning how to be efficient and also safe when making cuts. It's okay to be scared of the tool, but practice helps to take that fear away--so for most of training, we just practiced making cuts and getting used to the feel and sound of the machine. 

Drills are usually a less scary tool, but definitely just as challenging to use! During drill training, we learned the functions and uses of TS's drills: making holes, driving screws, and how to change the bits. Because our projects are about teamwork, we learned to help and ask for help when joining wood pieces together.

Our session ended with an unexpected discovery!

Using the chop saw, it's totally possible to cut a slice of wood so thin that light easily passes through, and this awesome moment was a result of conquering fears and being curious as a team. 

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