Tinkering School

come make amazing things with us

Hamster Maze - Day 5 - Week 6 - SF Summer Day Camp

Hamster Maze (2018), San Francisco Day CampBrendon BellComment

There's no way I could sum up this week any better than this heroic hamster...

Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 7.32.18 PM.png

It's our final day of tinkering this week and it also marks the close of our epic summer day camp in San Francisco. What better way to celebrate than to build and test ride our hamster obstacle course!? The giant hamsters ended up not joining the party today, but that was fine as we wanted to test our prototypes first to make sure they were safe for our furry friends.

The hamster cart team made some final structural support additions and discovered just how bendy PVC pipe can be while making an awesome tunnel.

P1190737.JPG
P1190636.JPG
P1170076.JPG

After lunch it was finally time to test ride the cart! One of the privileges of being a collaborator is that we get to ride/test every potentially dangerous project first to ensure its safety. And this time, I was the lucky collaborator to get the job. The excitement in the room was palpable. Would the young tinkerers hard work hold up to the gravitational forces? Or would I go crashing like a tumbling hamster??? 

3...2...1!!!

 WHOOOO!!!!!

WHOOOO!!!!!

I am happy to report that I am still here report to you all (with all body parts intact) that it was a GIANT success! The kids jumped and yelled and cheered as I flew down the track ramp, across the room and smashed into our stopping barrier (metal chairs – for added drama). Everyone couldn't wait to try it themselves and show their parents. Check out the video at the end to see the fun!

P1190753.JPG

Meanwhile, the hamster wheel team worked hard to complete their stand, install the wheel, and test out their impressive feat of engineering!

P1190664.JPG
P1170084.JPG

The team did an amazing job reducing friction on the axle. It actually consisted of a metal threaded rod inside a piece of metal conduit pipe. This allowed the two metal pieces to slide against each other rather than metal on wood which can cause a lot of drag. As a result, they discovered that absence of friction can also be important to account for...the wheel could spin super fast if folks weren't careful to slow it down!

Check out the fun! The kids all got to ride in it – helmet required of course.

The obstacle cubes were also fully covered and connected by a spooky dark tunnel.  

P1130513.JPG
P1170056.JPG

The kids made sure to add lots of trip wires, dangling obstacles to duck under, a swing, ground barriers to walk over with stilts and more! They had a blast testing out their agility maze. I hope the hamsters are prepared.

P1130495.JPG

The climbing team completed and attached ladders to their tower for yet another way to test the hamsters' and their own scrambling skills. They also had time to make some directional signs – one way only! Have you ever seen or been stuck in a hamster traffic jam? No? Be thankful you haven't if you haven't... they're worse than downtown San Francisco at rush hour...

P1170021.JPG

One of the joys of Tinkering School is having the chance to build things bigger than ourselves – especially things that we can use and interact with. Whether its a mountain to climb over, a wheel to roll inside, a cart to ride in, or an obstacle course to traverse, there's nothing quite like getting to play with a huge creation that you also dreamed up and built with your own hands as part of a team.

P1120121.JPG

A big thank you (and squeak) to all our hamster tinkerers this week for bringing your imaginations, and enthusiasm, and teamwork. All of our Tinkering staff look forward to hopefully seeing many of you next summer and in lots of our other camps. Till then, happy tinkering and hamsterbunga! 

Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 7.04.58 PM.png

To see more photos from our hamster maze week, please visit our Flickr page!

Hamster Maze - Day 4 - Week 6 - SF Summer Day Camp

Hamster Maze (2018), San Francisco Day CampBrendon BellComment

Our team this morning was so excited to begin tinkering that they could hardly contain themselves! The high levels of enthusiasm made it more challenging though to remember our group agreement to "always walk" in the woodshop...

Luckily, we were able to spend a little more time in our morning project meetings to allow our energy levels to return again to "safe" tinkering levels, and then finally it was time to build!

The cube team continued to build their walls, fine tune their swing, build a roof, and install the first obstacles. So much activity!

P1190525.JPG
P1030640.JPG

The climbing challenge team installed the rock climbing wall as well as the rope pull wall. After a successful test from our staff collaborators, the tinkerers had their chance to climb up and over. Some of the youngsters were scared of the height at first, but after taking their time to slowly navigate the obstacle, their faces lit up with excitement "we did it!."

P1120059.JPG
P1120067.JPG
 A ladder? A bridge? A collaborator catcher? When tinkering, a few sticks of wood can become anything!

A ladder? A bridge? A collaborator catcher? When tinkering, a few sticks of wood can become anything!

P1130450.JPG
P1120085.JPG

The crew also took advantage of the final painting day – we had to make sure everything dries before Friday when the parents arrive!

P1120083.JPG

The stilts team made some nice modifications too, adding some metal handles.

P1190536.JPG

They learned how to use the drill press to bore large holes for the hardware to fit into. 

P1190600.JPG

The hamster cart team tested out their platform, ramp, and cart. While I walked around on the platform and ramp, the kids all watched and listened for signs of cracking, creaking, breaks, bends or any other troubling sings of structural weakness. We discovered a few spots that could use more supports. Good thing we checked!

P1190623.JPG

We also tried out the cart to see how it rolled. It picked up some speed! It will be an exciting ride when its all ready to go.

P1050025.JPG
P1190616.JPG

The hamster wheel team is also nearly done with the wheel portion!

P1190533.JPG
S1120078.JSG.JPG

The floor boards are being installed and now its time to work on the support stand. Can't wait to see it rolling along!

S1120083.JSG.JPG

You definitely won't want to miss tomorrow's post! We're going to have an epic maze that any hamster would love to climb through! To see more photos from the day, please be sure to visit our Flickr page :)

Hamster Maze - Day 3 - Week 6 - SF Summer Day Camp

Hamster Maze (2018), San Francisco Day CampBrendon BellComment

It's hamster time!! 

At least it is was here today at our San Francisco day camp! We had lots of fun busily tinkering and building our epic mazes and obstacle courses. 

P1120025.JPG
P1120014.JPG

We have a new hamster friend who just joined the team! We are not yet decided on what their name is yet... we'll keep you posted.

The huge rope climbing wall was ready to be raised. Hopefully the hamsters will be ready – this is looking like it will be a super challenging maze / obstacle course!

P1190477.JPG
P1190475.JPG

The rock hand holds for the climbing wall were carefully placed and bolted on to a piece of plywood. 

P1190480.JPG

What will these climbing walls be attached to you might be wondering? Another group completed an impressive 7 foot tall tower, utilizing many triangle supports to make sure it was super strong. It will securely anchor both climbing walls and serve as an excellent hamster lookout post.

P1160987.JPG

Our collaborators always test the structural integrity of pieces that will be holding weight. Two thumbs up - the platform was really sturdy!

P1130443.JPG
P1130440.JPG
P1130411.JPG
P1190463.JPG
P1190367.JPG

I think our tinkerers are beginning to exhibit hamster like behaviors...mischievous hoarding of wood sticks...talking in squeaks and chirps...curious...

The large hamster cart received some much needed safety upgrades. Walls and bumpers!

P1120012.JPG

Meanwhile, the track team worked super hard to build a launch platform and ramp.

P1120062.JPG
P1120019.JPG

This team demonstrated some impressive collaboration, all deciding together how to share drilling, screwing, and holding duties. There's so much we can accomplish when we work together!

034.JPG

One cart and track was definitely not enough. Our hamsters enjoy riding in style, so this team prototyped and built another really cool train system.

P1160993.JPG

Yet another hardworking group of tinkerers made huge progress on their hamster wheel.

P1120063.JPG
 Cutting the axle with a hacksaw.

Cutting the axle with a hacksaw.

 They learned how to use the drill press to cut out holes in the cross supports that will hold the axle.

They learned how to use the drill press to cut out holes in the cross supports that will hold the axle.

38.JPG

One of the obstacle cube teams made tons of progress sheathing the sides with thin plywood.

P1120024.JPG
P1120003.JPG

The bandsaw was another tool they learned how to use. It's great for cutting plywood. Similar to the chop saw, it also has a "blood bubble" that we keep all our fingers and out hands out of. 

Jack tested out his stilts too and they worked like a charm! Super stable and easy to control. 

42.JPG

We have an incredibly enthusiastic and hard working group this week. The obstacles are taking shape, the projects are growing exponentially, and the hamsters hopefully are busy prepping, because they are going to get a workout navigating this maze!

Check back soon to follow this crews progress and to see more photos from the week, please do visit our Flickr page!

Hamster Maze - Day 2 - Week 6 - SF Summer Day Camp

Hamster Maze (2018), San Francisco Day CampBrendon BellComment

The hamsters are going to be veeerry happy!

We had a full day of tinkering and building today and we saw lots of collaboration and hard work and these projects are already growing to be bigger than ourselves.

One team focused on making two giant boxes that will be connected by a rope swing and filled with obstacles. Hopefully the hamsters are super agile!

P1130332.JPG
P1130350.JPG

Sometimes hand tools are the right fit for the job! The kids love hand saws almost as much as they love using the chop saw. There is something so satisfying about using just your strength and a piece of metal to mold the world around you.

P1030624.JPG

So many opportunities for teamwork! 

P1130337.JPG

Another team worked hard on building a cart and track for our lucky hamsters.

P1160959.JPG

Safety first! It was decided by the group that adding a bumper to the hamster cart would be a good idea. Xenia happily took on the task of adapting an old tire for the purpose.

P1040970.JPG

What would a giant hamster week be without hamsters! Another team gleefully began work on creating some cute, huge hamsters. There were some tricky angles angle pieces to cut and attach that definitely gave these young tinkerers a chance to try harder than usual.

P1130342.JPG
P1040990.JPG

What would a hamster maze be without a climbing wall! This team is really excited to construct a 5 foot tall climbing wall that will lead to a platform and ramp. The hamsters are going to get some serious excercise navigating this maze!

P1130356.JPG

There's even going to be a section of the obstacle course that requires stilts! We discovered the usefulness of triangles (gussets) to make really strong connections between two pieces of wood.

P1160967.JPG

I never thought hamster envy could be a thing, but after seeing the creative projects this hard working group is putting together, I'm starting to think more and more how fun it would be to traverse this epic obstacle course!

Stay tuned for more tinkering and check out all the fun from the week on our Flickr page!

Hamster Maze - Day 1 - Week 6 - SF Summer Day Camp

Hamster Maze (2018), San Francisco Day CampBrendon BellComment

Have you heard the news!? Hamster pet food across the country has been found to have traces of super ginormous growth hormone accidentally added to it...and the result...???

GIANT HAMSTERS! they're still cuddly and cute, but now they're giant - roughly small human sized. Luckily our newest group of tinkerers joined us this week and we're on a mission to build some new and enlarged hamster mazes for them so they can feel at home again soon.

Before we could get started building though, we needed to create some group agreements: How do we want to treat each other? How do we plan to stay safe while we build? We came up with a great list that we all felt good about and then it was on to tool training!

P1190254.JPG

Our young tinkerers learned how to efficiently clamp multiple pieces of wood together. Many multiples! They built some impressive clamp bridges with their new skills and then learned how to carefully take them all apart in reverse order.

P1190275.JPG

Knowing how to use a drill is an essential skill for a tinkerer to have in their toolbelt, so we made sure that everyone had an opportunity to practice their drilling technique. 

P1160943.JPG
P1160930.JPG

Perfect two handed form! Placing one hand on the back of the drill isn't just a good way to provide more power, it helps direct the force down in a straight line which can prevent stripping the screws or breaking drill bits

Always a favorite, the kids learned to use the CHOP SAW!!! Its the most exciting and potentially dangerous tool we frequently use in the shop, so we have developed very specific safety protocols that each kid learns and every cut that is made through the week is supervised by one of our staff collaborators.

 Manny (E-man) explaining the "thumbs up" check that the chop saw operator needs to get from everyone nearby before making a cut.

Manny (E-man) explaining the "thumbs up" check that the chop saw operator needs to get from everyone nearby before making a cut.

P1030605.JPG

After our lunch break the kids discovered what the weeks' tinkering theme would be and then dove into brainstorming and designing their projects. There's some super fun ideas being developed and I have no doubt the hamsters will be deeply appreciative of their efforts!

P1190286.JPG
P1130324.JPG
P1190289.JPG

There was even still time at the end of the day to begin building! – lots of measuring, cutting, and material gathering. It's going to be a very productive week I have a feeling.

P1110946.JPG

We ended the day with a closing circle where we listened to each other describe how we tried harder than usual, collaborated with friends, and made some great mistakes that we learned from. Looking around at the projects, it was also clear that we are already well on the way to building projects bigger than ourselves.

The kids are eagerly on board with our four tinkering school goals, and it will be exciting to watch them tinker this week. Who knows what amazing creations will come from their collaborations. The hamsters can hardly wait!

To see more of the tinkering fun today, be sure to visit our Flickr page!

Moving Animals - Day 5 - Week 5 - SF Summer Day Camp

Moving Animals (2018), San Francisco Day CampBrendon BellComment

STAMPEDE! 

The animals have come to life and are flying, wheeling, walking, and bobbing around! The teams had time to put some final touches on their projects before parents arrived to witness all their amazing work.  

The giant baby unicorn took its first rolling steps and is growing up fast!

P1130277.JPG
 It took a team of collaborators to raise this giant unicorn.

It took a team of collaborators to raise this giant unicorn.

P1030534.JPG
 Hard at work drilling holes for an axle that supported the wheels and powered the moving legs.

Hard at work drilling holes for an axle that supported the wheels and powered the moving legs.

P1030544.JPG

You wouldn't be the first to wonder if this giant baby unicorn was actually a Trojan horse in training. It can hold up to three young tinkerers in its belly! 

P1030532.JPG

The jelly fish was also seen bobbing around in all its twinkly glory!

P1030525.JPG
P1040909.JPG

The team added a couple layers of translucent plastic and fabric to make it appear just like a living, natural jelly fish. And lots of lights - it's an electric jelly after all! 

 A great shot showing the complexity of this team's design. There were so many angled cuts to figure out!

A great shot showing the complexity of this team's design. There were so many angled cuts to figure out!

 How cool would it be to swim through a group of giant jelly fish!? With a very thick wetsuit of course...

How cool would it be to swim through a group of giant jelly fish!? With a very thick wetsuit of course...

The bird car team celebrated a major success as well in completing a functional pedal system. It really worked! They were able to power their car with their feet, moving it back and forth about 10 feet. With a little more time there's no doubt they could have perfected their design and been speeding along over great distances.

P1040910.JPG
P1040917.JPG
 All the hard work to bend metal pipes paid off, and the plastic foot pedals rolled perfectly underfoot.

All the hard work to bend metal pipes paid off, and the plastic foot pedals rolled perfectly underfoot.

P1120028.JPG
 Gotta get creative to finding the best working position!

Gotta get creative to finding the best working position!

P1040920.JPG

The angry bird catapult and slingshot team were super excited to finally test out their designs.

P1130299.JPG
P1030550.JPG
P1160919.JPG

The birds expressed varying degrees of anger upon being launched into the air. Some nose-dived and crashed, others were happy to fly for a little while before also coming to a rough landing. 

The team was thrilled with the outcome and were already coming up with more ideas to perfect their designs. If only more tinkering time! We hope all our young tinkerers take their new skills and confidence out into the real world to continue designing, creating, and building. 

P1160881.JPG

Our bird launch team also completed their epic ramp as well, connecting it to a 10 foot tall wall! It was a great example of meeting our tinkering goal of collaborating with each other. There's no way we could have hoisted it up without everyone's help.

P1160904.JPG

The most important connection point on the ramp were the bolts connecting it to the launch platform. The team made sure to lock them down tight!

P1120016.JPG

Then it was time to carry the giant bird through the building, up some stairs, through the library, to its perch on the launch pad...

P1120001.JPG

Will if fly!!??

It's been a blast tinkering with these groups this week as they worked hard to develop their imaginative ideas and bring them to life. They tried harder than usual, stretching to overcome some difficult engineering challenges. They built some huge structures that were definitely bigger than themselves. They made lots of wonderful "mistakes" that they learned from. They also took to heart one of our most important tinkering goals: to collaborate and make friends. Its amazing what kinds of things can be accomplished when we work together and this group showed us several impressive examples. Who knows what they might create next!

To see all the tinkering fun from the entire week, be sure to visit our Flickr page!

Moving Animals - Day 4 - Week 5 - SF Summer Day Camp

Moving Animals (2018), San Francisco Day CampBrendon BellComment

The animals are coming to life and it's beginning to look like a zoo here at our San Francisco day camp! With the end of the week fast approaching, the project teams enthusiastically dove back into their work.

Our giant unicorn was given a face and a fur coat today! For fans of "How to Train Your Dragon," is it just me or could our unicorn be a cousin of Toothless the dragon? 

P1030479.JPG

The team working on the unicorns legs made large strides as well in designing and building our unicorns forward movement mechanism. It will involve six legs, four with wheels and two that provide the forward propulsion. Can't wait to see how it all works! 

P1040901.JPG
P1040898.JPG

The jelly fish team meanwhile worked hard on assembling the jelly's tentacles. They will all be able to move up and down and wiggle with the help of some pulleys and rope.

P1040896.JPG
P1110711.JPG
P1040908.JPG

The team was even able to finish the frame for the jelly's head and raise it in the air! Soon it will appear to be floating and bobbing through the air as if its in water. Our tinkerers had a chance to learn about pulleys and how adding additional pulleys to create a block and tackle system allows us to lift heavy objects with ease.

P1110701.JPG
P1130223.JPG
P1130227.JPG

Our angry birds team tested several different variations of their bird launcher. 

P1160863.JPG

With a rope and pulley, tension is built up and then a pin holding down the basket is pulled to release the catapult arm and send our birdies flying through the air. 

P1160870.JPG

Another bird team worked hard on constructing some wheels and a pedal system similar to a paddle boat. 

P1190235.JPG
P1190233.JPG

To flatten parts of a metal pipe, they used a giant vice. Only thing is they didn't have enough leverage at first...what to do? Make a longer lever! They figured out that using a pipe to extend that vice handle worked like a charm.

P1040907.JPG
P1190248.JPG

Our ramp bird launch team made huge progress both on assembling and covering their bird as well as building a 20 foot launch ramp! Will it fly??? We'll soon find out!

P1110693.JPG
P1190252.JPG
P1190243.JPG

Stay tuned to see these awesome animals' first steps, wiggles, and attempts at flight! And to see more from our productive day, don't forget to visit our Flickr page!

Moving Animals - Days 1-3 - Week 5 - SF Day Camp

Moving Animals (2018), San Francisco Day CampBrendon BellComment

Another week of Tinkering excitement! We have a new crew full of fresh ideas and a desire to build, build, build! As we learned on the first day, our design theme and challenge this week is to build MOVING ANIMALS!

This also happens to be our summer day camp's "Seniors Week" so we are excited to have several more teens or near teens on our team. We hope their additional years of experience will help us all as as we figure out how to create some tricky mechanisms that will allow our animals to come to life.

As with every Tinkering camp, we started off the first day creating some group safety agreements to decide how we want to use the tools and collaborate and treat each other respectfully. We then jumped straight into tool training!

 THE CHOP SAW! A fan favorite for sure. One of our most used tools in the shop, the kids learn how to operate it safely and keep all appendages out of the "blood bubble" (an area roughly a foot away from either side of the blade). 

THE CHOP SAW! A fan favorite for sure. One of our most used tools in the shop, the kids learn how to operate it safely and keep all appendages out of the "blood bubble" (an area roughly a foot away from either side of the blade). 

 Clamps are a tinkerers best friend - especially if a real life friend isn't available to hold a piece of wood down for them.

Clamps are a tinkerers best friend - especially if a real life friend isn't available to hold a piece of wood down for them.

 Drills! By the end of the week, our young builders will be wielding their drills like pros.

Drills! By the end of the week, our young builders will be wielding their drills like pros.

After a lunch break, it was time to go to the drawing board. We broke up into three groups each with a specific mechanical challenge: design and build a moving animal that wiggles, flies, or walks. 

P1040730.JPG

Every tinkerer had a chance to draw and share their ideas and then as a group everyone decided how to bring them all together into a design plan with general dimensions. 

P1040750.JPG
P1040760.JPG
 The kids discovered chairs and props are a great way to figure out the most ergonomical dimensions for a project!

The kids discovered chairs and props are a great way to figure out the most ergonomical dimensions for a project!

With a rough blueprint in hand for each animal design, there was even still time during the first day to start building. Tinker on!

Day 2 was a tinker fest!

With tool training under our belts, we had all day to build, and our young crew made the most of their time. 

The flying animals team decided to split into a few different sub-groups. To add to the zoo, we'll have a large rolling bird with automated flapping wings, a bird that accelerates and flies off a ramp, and an angry birds launcher that attempts to rescue their pig friends trapped on towers. 

P1030441.JPG
P1030461.JPG
P1030438.JPG
P1030457.JPG
P1040808.JPG
P1040870.JPG

Meanwhile the walking team was busy constructing an epic unicorn! Or a trotting unicorn? A galloping unicorn? Perhaps the unicorn could be in the flying group as well??? 

 Assembling a frame for the large body.

Assembling a frame for the large body.

P1040829.JPG
 Excellent two handed drilling form. Bravo!

Excellent two handed drilling form. Bravo!

P1190228.JPG

The unicorn will have a hatch door hatch for passengers to enter. Luckily we have hinges and hardware available to use in addition to lots of lumber.

Not to be outdone, the wiggle team decided to build a giant, wiggly, undulating jelly fish! Rumor is that it will be suspended in the air and the tentacles will bob up and down as if its moving through water.

P1040846.JPG
P1040853.JPG

To create the domed top of the jelly fish, this crew had to figure out some complex geometry so that they could cut pieces for three hexagons. Can't wait to see how it turns out!

P1190219.JPG

Day 3 was super productive!

This crew tinkers hard! We saw some impressive new developments with each of the three projects.

P1130206.JPG
P1110664.JPG

The jelly fish is looking more and more jellyish. The team added supports between each of the three hexagons to make a very sturdy dome structure. To reinforce the joints, (most of which were made with angle cuts), they also attached gussets (plywood triangles).

The walking unicorn team likewise added many aesthetic touches to the body, neck, and head. 

 Can you spot the unicorn horn? I for sure wouldn't want to upset this magically majestic animal!

Can you spot the unicorn horn? I for sure wouldn't want to upset this magically majestic animal!

 Attaching the unicorn's fur coat.

Attaching the unicorn's fur coat.

 Prototyping the unicorns moving legs.

Prototyping the unicorns moving legs.

And the flying teams soared through their self-made task lists! (My apologies to the non-punners out there) ;-P

 Catapults, framed bird bodies, take off ramps and more!

Catapults, framed bird bodies, take off ramps and more!

 Why saw just by yourself when you have a friend to push back from the other side!

Why saw just by yourself when you have a friend to push back from the other side!

 Measuring distances between foot pedals for the rolling bird car that will simultaneously flap some large wings.

Measuring distances between foot pedals for the rolling bird car that will simultaneously flap some large wings.

It's been a wild few days of tinkering, full of movement in the pursuit of creating yet more movement. What if these moving animals could build other moving animals...! Who knows, with this enthusiastic, group I wouldn't bet against the possibility, or anything else that they set their minds to for that matter. Tinkering sets the imagination free and it will be super exciting to see what these young tinkerers come up with next!

To check out more of the action from this week, be sure to visit our Flickr page! 

Virus! Week - Day 5 - Week 4 - SF Day Camp

Molly MansfieldComment
IMG_5555.JPG

Virus! Week has been a really great camp week this summer! On Friday, the tinkerers prepared to share their project work with their families. As is so often true in life, the projects didn't get "finished" to the extent that the tinkerers had originally envisioned. We all agreed that if we had another week to work on these projects we could definitely keep adding to them and making them better. We're not sure they would ever be done! We discussed how finishing the projects is NOT one of the goals of Tinkering School Day Camp SF. Our four goals are:

Collaborate and Make Friends

Try Harder Than Usual

Build Something Bigger Than Yourself

Make Mistakes and Learn From Them

The tinkerers certainly did accomplish all of the four goals we set out to accomplish! By the time Friday afternoon rolled around, we had a giant human body cell, a climbable huge "dragon-cell" full of viruses that they could launch at the human body cell, and a huge immune system cell that was prepared to protect the human body cell from the viruses.

While these structures were not completely accurate scale models of the way our human immune systems protect us from viruses, it was one way of engaging young tinkerers in biochemical learning at a young age. The virus group learned about the influenza virus (among others) and the different surface molecules that facilitate the virus entering or exiting a cell. The human body cell group learned a little about cell movement and also cell membranes and how things are transported across a membrane. While the immune cell group learned some about how our human immune systems create antibodies for the microbes to which we are exposed so that we can fight them when we are exposed to them again in the future. It was a fun and engaging way to expose tinkerers to some advanced science learning at an early age!

As collaborators, we also wondered how an all-girls group of tinkerers would take on modeling an "attack" or a "battle" scenario. As humans, we often frame the viruses as the aggressor to be fought off in order to protect our own human cells. On Monday, without having been offered another narrative or way to frame the scenario, the girls in the immune cell group had already begun tossing around ideas for sorting the viruses they captured into "good viruses" and "bad viruses" as they explored their own concept that maybe not all viruses are bad and that some might be good and useful - already they were looking at the traditional narrative from other angles and through lenses of empathy! It was a fun and meaningful part of All Girls Week to talk with the female tinkerers about how stories with a "villain" and "hero" from one perspective can be viewed entirely differently from other perspectives.

This week we as collaborators also did a lot of talking about how to acknowledge and celebrate the special experience building and collaborating and tinkering with an all-female group, without reinforcing the gender norms that in the past have excluded girls and women from these types of activities. We didn't want it to feel unique and unusual for girls to be building with tools together, we wanted it to feel normal and commonplace. It was meaningful to us to discuss with the tinkerers what it is like to tinker, build and collaborate with all girls and to read their reflections about that experience. (See our earlier blog post to read some of those reflections.)

At the end of the week we also asked them "What is tinkering?" and "Why do we tinker?"  We have been asking that of all of our tinkerers this summer and we have been getting some pretty amazing answers.  Here are a few that we want to share with you...

"What is tinkering?" (scroll through to see the answers the tinkering girls gave)

"Why do we tinker?" (scroll through to see the answers the tinkering girls gave)

Be sure to stay tuned to our blog next week for another great week of Tinkering School Day Camp adventures! As always, you can find many more photos from All Girls Week on our Flickr Photo Page by clicking HERE.

IMG_5550.JPG

Harry Potter - Day 5 - Week 5 - Mark Day School

Mark Day / San Rafael, Mark Day Harry PotterTatian GreenleafComment

The last day of camp arrived with a flutter of nervous excitement. Would we be able to finish our builds by the afternoon? Would the train be able to pull the passenger car? Would the hidden door be reinforced to allow it to properly raise and lower?

The answers came in spurts: yes. yes. yes. Even though there is always more that can be imagined, more that can be designed, and more that can be built, we know we have a deadline and we work as a team to do as much as we can in the time we have.

The tinkerers met to plan how the train would arrive, how many people could ride it at one time, how best to allow visitors to travel under the hidden door, and where to position the sink and basilisk.

During our closing circle, just before family members arrived, we said more gratitudes to each other and shared ways we had met our goals for the week. There were new friendships growing and thanks said for help given.

At the end of the day, we all pitched in (thanks, family members!) to take apart our creations and return all of the materials to their original bins so they could be used again another time.

And so it is bittersweet that the final week of Tinkering School Summer Camp at Mark Day School comes to an end. We hope to see each of your children again next summer for another exciting program!

For many more photos from the week, visit our Flickr page.

Click through the slideshow below for many more photos from today.

Harry Potter - Day 4 - Week 5 - Mark Day School

Mark Day / San Rafael, Mark Day Harry PotterDavid St. MartinComment

Today felt a bit like running full speed toward platform nine and three-quarters, believing with all our heart that the platform would appear just in time! We had so much to do, so many projects yet to be completed, it seemed impossible, but with a lot of teamwork, a few moments of frustration, a break for popsicles and a few compromises, we made major progress. 

During a break, we reminded everyone that our goals for the week never included finishing. They were to Collaborate and make friends, try harder that usual, build something bigger than ourselves, and make mistakes we learn from. That's it. Completing projects  is just a bonus. 

We hope to see you at 2:15 tomorrow for the unveil! After that the tinkerers will get to demonstrate their skills with the drills as we take everything apart.  Adults are invited to help keep things safe, carry materials back to their places and generally admire the effort of your young maker. It has been an incredible week!

You can find many more pictures HERE

DSCF9347.JPG

Harry Potter - Day 3 - Week 5 - Mark Day School

Mark Day Harry Potter, Mark Day/San RafaelTatian GreenleafComment

"A scarlet steam engine was waiting next to a platform packed with people. A sign overhead said Hogwarts Express, 11 o'clock. Harry looked behind him and saw a wrought-iron archway where the ticket box had been, with the words Platform Nine and Three-Quarters on it. He had done it."

-- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

"Of the many fearsome beasts and monsters that roam our land, there is none more curious... than the Basilisk, known also as the King of Serpents. This snake, which may reach gigantic size, and live many hundreds of years, is born from a chicken's egg, hatched beneath a toad."

-- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

IMG_7338.JPG

I read longer versions of these passages to our tinkerers during our after-lunch circle to further inspire them (and to take advantage of the air conditioning), although I don't think they need much more inspiration based on the creative sketches they've made on whiteboards and the mathematics- and physics-based contemplation happening in conversations.

This morning, students rotated through three mechanical engineering workshops to learn about pulleys, levers, and structural reinforcement (hint: ask them which shape is the strongest). We're continuing to think about which part of our builds might move and how we might accomplish that.

It was a full day of building and at the end of the day, though we were hot and somewhat tired, we shared stories of ways that other tinkerers had helped us (carrying wood, partner pushing on a drill, etc.).

Visit our Flickr page for even more photos from today and the rest of the week.

 Feeling the difference between lifting 12 pounds using a single pulley, two pulleys, and four pulleys.

Feeling the difference between lifting 12 pounds using a single pulley, two pulleys, and four pulleys.

pulleys 2.JPG
 Elevators, flag poles, window blinds, cranes, wells, and more...

Elevators, flag poles, window blinds, cranes, wells, and more...

 Testing how being closer or further from the fulcrum affects lifting strength.

Testing how being closer or further from the fulcrum affects lifting strength.

levers 2.JPG
 Avi brought his own copy!

Avi brought his own copy!

 Learning to add a gusset to wobbly table legs in order to strengthen them.

Learning to add a gusset to wobbly table legs in order to strengthen them.

 The engine cab is taking shape.

The engine cab is taking shape.

back of train engine.JPG
 Jig sawed circles of plywood and chop sawed 2x4s are connected to form the front of the engine. 

Jig sawed circles of plywood and chop sawed 2x4s are connected to form the front of the engine. 

As collaborators, one of our roles is to model behavior that includes the design process, building techniques, safe use of tools and materials, and communication based on our social and emotional learning curriculum. We are facilitators more than anything and we enjoy seeing students take the lead on projects and involve their peers in the process:

student sketches.jpg

Click through the slideshow below for more photos from today:

Virus! Week - Day 3 - Week 4 - SF Day Camp

Molly MansfieldComment

"Make Mistakes and Learn From Them"

This is one of our four Tinkering School SF Day Camp goals and we work hard to create a failure-positive learning environment at camp. When a tinkerer makes a mistake, often their first reaction is shame, embarrassment, or frustration. In these moments we make a point to pause and celebrate the mistake! We take photos and examine what happened. Then we talk about what we can learn from the mistake. During our closing circle, we often talk about the mistakes we made and what we learned to share the knowledge with others and to create a community where making mistakes is an emotionally safe and joyful thing.

Today for our blog we want to highlight and celebrate some of the mistakes that have been made this week and share what the tinkerers have learned...

 Mistake: The drill won't go into the wood.     Learned: Make sure the drill is not in reverse!

Mistake: The drill won't go into the wood.   

Learned: Make sure the drill is not in reverse!

 Mistake: The screw became stripped.         Learned: With use over time some screws get stripped. Put pressure on the drill to avoid stripping a screw. Don't try to use stripped screws!

Mistake: The screw became stripped.       

Learned: With use over time some screws get stripped. Put pressure on the drill to avoid stripping a screw. Don't try to use stripped screws!

(Click, swipe, or tap the above photo to see another view)

Mistake: The chop saw blade hit a knot, split off a chunk of wood and tossed it off the saw!

Learned: Wood strength is different around knots and can sometimes be unpredictable. This is why we wear safety goggles always at Tinkering School!  (Also, Stella is very brave and luckily Kevin didn't get hurt!)

(Click, swipe, or tap the above photo to see another view)

Mistake: The drill bit broke off in the piece of wood!

Learned: Be sure to keep the drill straight when drilling. The bit can break in the wood.

(Click, swipe, or tap the above photo to see another view)

Mistake: The safety glasses we stepped on and snapped in half!

Learned: Keep safety glasses off the ground - on the face is the best place.

Let's here it for making mistakes and learning from them!

Be sure to see more photos of this week on our Flickr Photo Site - CLICK HERE

Virus! Week - Day 2 - Week 4 - SF Day Camp

Molly MansfieldComment

Today was the first full day of building at Tinkering School Day Camp SF and the building was buzzing with collaboration, building and tinkering!

During our closing circle today, we asked the tinkerers this question:

What is it like tinkering, collaborating and building with all girls?

For today's blog post, here are some photos of the tinkerers and quotes about their experience in their own words:

IMG_5493.JPG
P1030289.JPG
IMG_5494.JPG
P1110504.JPG
IMG_5495.JPG
P1110529.JPG
IMG_5496.JPG
P1120973.JPG
IMG_5497.JPG
P1160666.JPG
IMG_5498.JPG
P1160731.JPG
IMG_5499.JPG
P1160743.JPG
IMG_5500.JPG
P1160750.JPG
IMG_5501.JPG

Be sure to check out more photos on our Flickr Photo Site by clicking HERE!

Harry Potter - Day 2 - Week 5 - Mark Day School

Mark Day/San Rafael, Mark Day Harry PotterDavid St. MartinComment

We could feel the excitement in the air today even before camp started. Everyone just wanted to get building! Before we could build bigger than ourselves though, we needed to talk about carrying wood safely in a bustling construction zone. Once that discussion was had, tinkerers either went full steam ahead on The Hogwarts Express, or dove headlong into the Chamber of Secrets. 

Each day brings an opportunity to use the tools we learned about during Monday's tool training and to use new tools as well. Today's tools included a jig saw - great for cutting straight and curved lines in plywood - and a Sawzall - useful for cutting wood that is already connected to a frame and can't easily be moved onto sawhorses.

The heat made it easy to meet one of our goals, which is to try harder than usual... we used a break after lunch to cool off and reflect on what tinkering is and why we do it. It was an informative time, and many of the thoughts captured during that time highlighted the reason we do this work. 

Check out even more photos from today and the whole week on our Flickr page.

 The base of the train is taking shape.

The base of the train is taking shape.

 Using the Sawzall to trim part of the train base.

Using the Sawzall to trim part of the train base.

 The basilisk body has several segments. Small groups are working together to build each one.

The basilisk body has several segments. Small groups are working together to build each one.

 It takes several steps to be ready to use the jigsaw: measure and draw lines, clamp wood to sawhorse, put on ear protection and goggles, "is everybody ready?" safety call, and then it's time to cut.

It takes several steps to be ready to use the jigsaw: measure and draw lines, clamp wood to sawhorse, put on ear protection and goggles, "is everybody ready?" safety call, and then it's time to cut.

 Assembly square + clamp + a partner to hold the wood = successful drilling.

Assembly square + clamp + a partner to hold the wood = successful drilling.

 Individual student response to "What is tinkering?" and "Why do we tinker?"

Individual student response to "What is tinkering?" and "Why do we tinker?"

 Our group summary

Our group summary

 Sometimes a "partner push" is just what's needed to add enough pressure to the drill.

Sometimes a "partner push" is just what's needed to add enough pressure to the drill.

 Individual student response to "What is tinkering?" and "Why do we tinker?"

Individual student response to "What is tinkering?" and "Why do we tinker?"

 Our group summary

Our group summary

Click through the slideshow below for more photos.

Virus! Week - Day 1 - Week 4 - SF Day Camp

Molly MansfieldComment

Week 4 of Tinkering School Day Camp SF has begun! This is an extra special week because it is the one week of the summer where all of our campers are children who identify as girls. We call it "All Girls Week". Even all of our collaborators are female this week - our male staff are helping out at Overnight Camp.

This morning we started by making our group agreements for how to treat each other and work together safely. In addition to the regular agreements that we tend to see week to week (for example, "Always walk" and, "Treat others the way THEY want to be treated") the tinkerers also came up with some other thoughtful agreements including, "Don't yuck someone else's yum" and "Be kind about other people's ideas." 

(Click, tap or swipe to see the slideshow below)

Then we did tool training rotations where the tinkerers learned to use the drills, chop saw (miter saw) and clamps...

(Click, tap or swipe to see the slideshow below)

After a mid-day break of playing in the park and having lunch, the tinkerers returned to the building for the big reveal of the secret theme for this week .... VIRUS!

At first they were confused. "Wait... virus?..."

We took a few minutes to talk about what human bodies are made of, what a cell is, how our bodies get sick and what makes them sick, and how our immune systems work to keep us healthy.

The tinkerers learned that this week we will be making a huge moving model of viruses attempting to get inside a human body cell, with a human immune cell working to protect the other cell. One group will make a human body cell that can move, another will make a cell infected with a virus that is releasing ("launching") new viruses at the human body cell, and the third group is making an immune cell that will grab the viruses to prevent them from getting into the human cell! (*Yes, it is a complicated and challenging week!)

P1110905.JPG

We then watched this NPR Krulwich Wonders movie clip "Flu Attack! How a Virus Invades Your Body" in small groups to better understand how cells, viruses and immune cells interact...

(Click, tap or swipe to see the slideshow below)

Tinkerers spent the rest of the afternoon taking on the challenge of designing the virus cell, the human cell and the immune cell...

(Click, tap or swipe to see the slideshow below)

To wrap up our long and fun-filled, hot (for San Francisco) day, we flopped on the nice cool, concrete floor and took a moment to spell out ...

image1 (2).jpeg

Come back to our blog this week to learn how Virus! Week goes with our tinkering girls, and be sure to check our Flickr Photo Site for many more photos from this week!

Harry Potter - Day 1 - Week 5 - Mark Day School

Mark Day Harry Potter, Mark Day / San RafaelTatian GreenleafComment

Gryffindor. Hufflepuff. Ravenclaw. Slytherin. Magic has arrived at Tinkering School and the tinkerers are no longer muggles, having learned the art of tools.

We started the day discussing our goals for the week and then met to talk about group agreements in order to set a framework for ways that we interact with each other and with the tools (e.g. "treat others the way they want to be treated."). 

Every tinkerer went through tool training to learn about and practice using clamps, cordless drills, and a chop saw. 

In the afternoon, we split into our build groups to work on designing the two projects for the week: The Hogwarts Express train and the Chamber of Secrets. If you're wondering whether Moaning Myrtle will make an appearance, join us for the big reveal at the end of the week!

Check out more photos from today on our Flickr page.

goals.jpg
group agreements.jpg
 
chop saw.JPG
drill training.JPG
clamp training.JPG
train sketch 2.jpg
IMG_7144.JPG
train sketch.jpg
IMG_7143.JPG

Wild Animals - Day 5 - Week 4 - Mark Day School

Mark Day / San Rafael, Mark Day Wild AnimalsDavid St. MartinComment

When we started the week, a giant Belephant and Tigray were hard to imagine, but after a week of imagination, a lot of ingenuity, and a ton of hard work, we could proudly say we had built the biggest Belephant and Tigray the world has ever seen! 

So many more pictures from the week can be found here. 

 This Belephant stands over 10' tall, rolls, flaps it's wings, and holds a whole herd of tinkerers

This Belephant stands over 10' tall, rolls, flaps it's wings, and holds a whole herd of tinkerers

 The Tigray had a head large enough to sit in, and an articulated jaw designed by these two tinkerers. 

The Tigray had a head large enough to sit in, and an articulated jaw designed by these two tinkerers. 

Gnomes & Domes - Day 5 - Week 4 - SF Day Camp

Molly MansfieldComment
IMG_5451.JPG

It's been a wonderful week at Tinkering School Day Camp SF! The tinkerers worked hard all morning and in the afternoon we shared and appreciated our projects with the families of the tinkerers. Click or swipe through the slideshows below to view photos from today...

In the end, the tinkerers overcame the obstacles that the mischievous cats put in their way and were able to create large and intricate gnome homes! As the tinkerers left at the end of the day, this anonymous sign was found on the ground in the building area:

P1030246.JPG

Consider us warned!

Check out the many more photos of this week of camp on our Flickr page - HERE!

Wild Animals - Day 4 - Week 4 - Mark Day School

Mark Day/San Rafael, Mark Day Wild AnimalsTatian GreenleafComment

What sound does a Tigray make in the wild? It's hard to describe but our intrepid tinkerers have developed a system of PVC pipes that approximates it quite nicely. And now that the head is attached to the body, defining features such as ears are starting to appear.

How large are Belephant wings? Larger than you might expect. And how will the Belephant move? Answering that required tilting the animal on its side and propping it up to add wheels. It was a team effort for sure.

After our mechanical engineering workshops earlier in the week, answers to previously daunting questions came within reach... Q: "How can we make this wobbly head stronger?" A: "Triangles!" Q: "How should we raise and lower these wings?" A: "Pulleys!" "Levers!"

And we're making mistakes and learning from them, as we always do. I myself showed students how to attach hinges for a wing and after they had connected it with four screws, I realized I had placed it on the wrong side of the 2x3. Modeling a positive spirit and being humble is something we collaborators do all the time. Today's demonstration at open circle was about how to keep a drill bit straight to avoid breaking it. We've lost a few to pressure applied at an angle.

We also train on new tools as tinkerers need them. Today's additions to our toolbox were a jigsaw (for some; quite a few tinkerers had already used it earlier in the week), a hacksaw, and a heated rope cutter.

See even more photos from today and the rest of the week on our Flickr page.

 
DSCF9179.JPG
IMG_6188 2.JPG
 
DSCF9189.JPG
IMG_6865.JPG
IMG_6873.JPG
DSCF9186.JPG
IMG_6810.JPG
DSCF9183.JPG
IMG_6195 2.JPG
IMG_6827.JPG
IMG_6841.JPG

Tinkering School is a trademark registered in the US Patent and Trademark Office.