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Tinkering Summer 2016 Comes to a Close

Amanda SimonsComment

The final week of Summer Tinkering Day Camp came to a close on Friday. It's hard to believe it's over already! We tried very hard to meet our tinkering goals this summer and, let's be honest, we had a really fun time in the process! We got to tinker with really great human beings and enjoyed collaborating and making friends. We also made many mistakes, which was really helpful even if it was difficult at times. And we're proud to have built so many BIG things this summer - both our projects and our community. 

It's been great, Summer Tinkering Day Camp, thanks for everything!

Let's all keep tinkering this fall!

 

The Crank - Session 9 - Day Two

Max MercierComment

Day 2 showed a lot of progress made on our three projects! 

After a brief design and planning meeting, the crank team started construction on the other side of the hamster wheel as well as the base.

The crank team building their electric tower style base

The crank team building their electric tower style base

Over at the windmill team, the main structure was clamped together in preparation for being screwed in tomorrow!

And the escalator team got their main frame screwed together!

Another thing that the escalator team found out was, when cutting out puzzle pieces from wood, it's always better to use the band saw, rather than the jigsaw.

A puzzle piece cut out on the jigsaw.....notice the nice cut on the other side (made on the band saw)

A puzzle piece cut out on the jigsaw.....notice the nice cut on the other side (made on the band saw)

Another rad day at TSD! 

The Crank - Session 9 - Day 1

Max MercierComment

It is officially our last week at Tinkering School this summer! :( :( :(

To finish off what has been an amazing summer, we decided to tackle extremely complex and challenging projects powered by a giant crank. 

Project one: A crank powered windmill - since our indoor space doesn't really have a lot of wind, we're going to be relying on the crank to get our windmill spining

Windmill project design meeting.

Windmill project design meeting.

Project two: A crank powered escalator - while this may not be a human carrying escalator, the crank will connect to our escalator to push objects up a set of moving stairs so that tinkerers can retrieve them.

Escalator project design meeting.

Escalator project design meeting.

Project three: The crank! - This will be a portable human size hamster wheel that powers all of our other projects! 

Crank team starting constuction

Crank team starting constuction

An all around successful first day! These projects will be super hard, challenging and most certainly frustrating, but we're prototyping and designing and even starting to build these rad contraptions so things are looking good!

Tinkerers In Space - Mission 8 - Tinkerdate 03

Lindsay JonesComment

:::transmission start:::

It has now been three days since our mission was given to us, and all of us here at the Tinkering School Space Laboratory can say that significant progress has been made on our ship, the T.S. Gever Tulley.

The main frame is getting it's fire and meteor proof side panels attached, the beds are getting attached to their anti-gravity posts, the space toilet is being mounted to it's explosion proof plumbing system, and the control panel got it's electronics delivered from our high quality spacecraft electronics supplier.

Space bed team enjoying what they made!

Space bed team enjoying what they made!

Control panel team after unboxing their highly sensitive electronics!

Control panel team after unboxing their highly sensitive electronics!

Space toilet team trying it out! (jk it's just really comfortable to sit on)

Space toilet team trying it out! (jk it's just really comfortable to sit on)

Meanwhile our friends in the far far away galaxy continued constructing their mountain, as well as the dragon and their floating cloud houses.

Cloud houses being constructed.

Cloud houses being constructed.

Dragon remains.

Dragon remains.

Mountains spotted by Hubble telescope.

Mountains spotted by Hubble telescope.

 

 

Tinkerers in Space - Mission 8 - Tinkerdate 02

Lindsay JonesComment

:::transmission start:::

Mission update: 

Yesterday we made our team agreements and got started designing what we need to complete our galactic mission. And today we were in full construction mode to get our designs into action.

Here is our spacecraft, The T.S. Gever Tulley This beauty is going to carry us off of earth and deep into the galaxy so we can step foot onto a newly discovered planet, and take samples from the newly discovered alien dragon. Most of our highly trained astronaut-fabricators are working on the main frame of the craft, while some are working on some other crucial parts such as the space toilet, sample crane, and our state of the art control panel.

Space toilet design team at work

Space toilet design team at work

Aside from The TS One and it's facilities, far away in another galaxy, another team is building up their prized alien dragon as a gift to our astronauts so they can collect samples.

Team dragon strengthening the dragon's ribs

Team dragon strengthening the dragon's ribs

Also in this galaxy, a clean-up and construction crew is beautifying their planet and constructing new structures to make a good impression on the astronauts. Communication with the planet is limited, but from what we've heard, they're designing and building a mountain. Oh, the things Earth would do for technology like that!

The last thing that was heard over the planets communication with us was a dance party that broke out in the build site of the mountain. Our astronauts are feeling a lot less nervous now because apparently this planet in a galaxy far far away also listens to Justin Timberlake just like us!

:::end transmission:::

 

 

  

Tinkerers in Space - Mission 8 - Tinkerdate 01

Lindsay JonesComment

:::press release:::

Mission Control
San Francisco, California

Mission 8 aboard the T.S. Gever Tulley to explore an uncharted planet has begun.

Not very early this morning, our mission team assembled and we agreed to treat each other, ourselves, and our environments respectfully.  All team members endured hours of training on specialized equipment to prepare them for the upcoming projects of stablizing the Spacecraft, exploring the Environment of the new planet we landed on, and building a Colony for us to live in.

Then, we closed our eyes and entered hypersleep.

When we awoke we had safely landed on the unexplored planet!! The three projects groups immediately began planning out and designing their strategies.

And got down to business!

Check in tomorrow for the next dispatch from Tinkerers in Space.

Stolen Unicorn - Session 7 - Day 3

Caroline MartinComment

With the return of our drills after evil Dr Pilfer took them yesterday (we managed to borrow some from our other camps), we're ready for another day of building. We still have some big obstacles, however.

It's going to take all our teamwork to get our various projects done, but everyone's already on top of that.

But, can you believe it, Dr Pilfer strikes again. We find, to our dismay, that she has taken our chopsaw blades, and replaced them with cardboard!

We must carry on. We regroup and figure out a plan.

Our visual communication skills are improving as well.

Park time gives us a moment to get refreshed, and for the collaborator team to replace our chop saws. 

When we come back, the Laser team has new intel. Satellite imagery has given them the locations of the laser towers, as well as some mysterious boxes. Our best guesses, after some discussion, is that they are power sources, key pad entries, and ways to disable the lasers.

And we're making great progress with our ladder to scale the fortress wall.

Structural engineering is a big part of camp here. One of our first lessons is about the strengths and weaknesses of some shapes. Here we have a square...

But the problem with squares is that they can transform quite easily into parallelograms, often when we don't want them to. 

(The solution is triangles.)

Part of our retrieval now includes a decoy unicorn head. It's starting to look very familiar.

P1070797.JPG

And so ends another day at Tinkering School. Tomorrow is our last full build day, can't wait to see what happens!

 

 

Stolen Unicorn - Session 7 - Day 2

Caroline MartinComment

It's Tuesday! We're ready to get to work and use all the tools we learned about yesterday. The first thing to do is have a design meeting with our small groups.

We also spend some time learning more about the materials we're using. What's the best way to use a screw? How do we know which length to use? One of the best ways is to just put it next to the wood and take a look.

Attaching support legs to our post designs is more fun than we thought!

Our beloved chop saw in action. Today is all about the angle cuts.

The 8-foot posts will be used for the laser trap. One tinkerer has come up with an elegant design.

We're also getting really good with the speed square. It takes all the guesswork out of making nice boxes.

The Up The Tower team starts asking about pulley systems. Let's test them out!

Our research team has been trying their hardest to find out more about Dr. Pilfer's lab fortress and any weaknesses it may have. It turns out the teams have more challenges than they originally thought.

During lunch, Dr Pilfer strikes again. This time, she steals a whole bunch of our drills! We're left with only 10 to work with (and there's 30 of us!), so we agree to work together the best that we can to power through the afternoon build session.

Another build session, another design meeting. Math is happening, and no one seems to mind.

The band saw gets some good use today, and everyone has a job.

Meanwhile, more research on pulleys continues in the back...

By the end of the day, we realize we may not have many drills, but we have an excellent team set on taking down Dr Pilfer and her scheming ways. 

Stolen Unicorn - Session 7 - Day 1

Caroline MartinComment

Welcome to another exciting week here at Tinkering School Day Camp! We've got a tricky situation on our hands this week, but first! It's time for introductions and group agreements on how we'll be working with each other in this space for the week.

We come up with a bunch of good ones. Once we're all agreed, we sign our names to seal the deal.

That's done, so it's on to learn about all the awesome tools we'll be using. Our main tools are chop saws, drills, and clamps, so we cover them first.

And then we're off to play and eat lunch! The nearby park is a great place to hang with new friends.

And even the collaborators start monkeying around.

When we come back from lunch, we're eager to learn about this week's project. Unfortunately, we're met with tragedy.

The evil Dr. Pilfer has stolen a prized possession: a unicorn head made by tinkerers of the past. Obviously she has nefarious plans for this unicorn head, considering all the magical attributes of a unicorn horn. In her note, Dr. Pilfer warned of a tall tower, a dangerous moat full of hungry pets, and a laser beam trap, and then she also called us some mean names. How dare she.

We split into three groups to tackle the issue: Tower, Moat, and Lasers.

The Laser team will be creating a simulation laser system so that the recovery team can practice avoiding, and potentially disabiling, the lasers. Here, they draw out what they think it might look like, and some possible solutions.

P1050322.JPG

The Moat team discusses a few different problems, since they can't touch the moat (what with the crocodiles and alligators), and they need to build something tall enough to avoid the 4-foot jumping ability of the toothy creatures. 

And the Tower team has their own set of troubles. How will they even measure the bit of land available for them to build on when they have no way to cross the moat yet?

All too soon, it's time to clean up. The tinkerers have a lot to think about, and there's rumors that Dr. Pilfer isn't finished with us just yet...

 

Swallowed by a Whale - Week 6 - Day 5

Molly MansfieldComment

Well friends, we can proudly say that on Friday we managed to not only accomplish all of our Tinkering School Goals...

- Make friends and collaborate

- Try harder than usual

- Make mistakes and failures and learn from them

- Build something bigger than ourselves

        ... we also built a HUGE whale right in the middle of the Tinkering School!

We had a great time tinkering together all week. Please check out our Flickr account to see MANY photos of how everything came together on the last day when we shared our project with families. 

Thank you tinkerers! Keep on tinkering!

 

Swallowed by a Whale - Week 6 - Day 4

Molly MansfieldComment

Today was a fantastic day at Tinkering School Day Camp! The whale head, body and tail began to come together and all the pieces were so big we had to relocate them closer together in our biggest space. The whale mouth now moves! (Important if it is going to swallow tinkerers...) The whale also got flippers and a stomach. The ribs are upright and the tail is BLUE! We worked really hard today and had a lot of fun, and there are just so many pictures to share that I had to include a slideshow! 

Don't forget to check out our Flickr account for even more photos of this week and the tinkerers building things bigger than themselves!

Tomorrow will be our last day of building and we will share what we've done with our families! It's going to be a blast!

 

Swallowed by a Whale - Session 6 - Day 3

Molly MansfieldComment

Sometimes Wednesdays are the hardest days at Tinkering Camp. It's mid-week, the projects we are trying to build are getting bigger and more complicated, and some of the designed we planned aren't working out. And on top of that it is July and it is hot! Today, tinkerers had to do some creative problem solving to figure out how to keep constructing our whale:

Tinkerers had to test to see how many people a 2"x3" board can support:

The projects continued to evolve...

We strengthened friendships...

And at the end of the day, we were really, really tired!

Tinkerers were reminded to drink lots of water and get lots of sleep for our last full day of building tomorrow! See you in the morning tinkerers!

Swallowed by a Whale - Session 6 - Day 2

Molly MansfieldComment

Tuesday was our first full day of building this week. Slowly the basic structures for the three parts of the whale have begun to emerge as we tinker and troubleshoot, make mistakes and learn from them! Today some tinkerers also learned to use new tools, such as the band saw:

Tinkerers cutting pieces of the whale's tale

Tinkerers cutting pieces of the whale's tale

Carefully guiding the wood through the band saw

Carefully guiding the wood through the band saw

Going "back to the drawing board..."

Going "back to the drawing board..."

Collaborators provide helpful weight and entertainment!

Collaborators provide helpful weight and entertainment!

The mouth of the whale begins to take shape

The mouth of the whale begins to take shape

How do pulleys work?

How do pulleys work?

The first rib of the whale body is complete! Definitely BIGGER THAN OURSELVES!

The first rib of the whale body is complete! Definitely BIGGER THAN OURSELVES!

Tinker Camp Rocks!

Tinker Camp Rocks!

Tomorrow is another full day of tinkering and building! More to come!

Swallowed by a Whale - Session 6/Week 6 - Day 1

Molly MansfieldComment

Monday at Tinkering School Day Camp was amazing!

Today we started the day by introducing ourselves and making a group agreement about how we want to treat each other and interact this week:

Next, we had fun doing tool training. We learned to use clamps, drills, and the chop saw!

After all that learning we needed a break! So we walked up the street to the park for some play time and a picnic lunch:

After lunch we had the big PROJECT REVEAL where tinkerers learned what the theme of the week is.... SWALLOWED BY A WHALE!

We did some brainstorming and designing...

We even did some tricky math and used the Pythagorean Theorem! On a Monday!

We decided to build a GIANT WHALE and do that by building it in three separate parts: the mouth, the body, and the tail. We got started building and already have accomplished one of the Tinkering School goals: Building something bigger than ourselves!

We can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring!

(Monster Failure) Monsters! All Girls - Session 5 - Day 5

Amanda SimonsComment

Learn From Our Mistakes and Failures: 1 of 4 TS Goals
Today we did it. We really, really, did it. 

This week, we had two main projects with our team of all girls.

In the first project, two mini teams were each building one half of a monster that would be later combined. The trick to this was that the lead Collaborators, Piper and Molly, were not allowed to see what the other team was building. Each team built independently, and then had to come together and communicate about how to join the two halves together.

What's so hard about that?

Well, here's what happened...

The transport.

The transport.

The assembly.

The assembly.

The dilemma.

The dilemma.

The result.

The result.

What the teams wanted was a monster snowman of sorts, with all the components (over 16 feet of combined height!) stacked on top of one another. What they got, was an artful arrangement of all the pieces. Weight, time, and lack of wood touching attachment opportunities lead everyone to this solution.

Failure abound in the last minutes of the week! It was awesome!

The second project: a monster truck!

Not like the big wheel smashy smash kinda truck though. We're talking a double-decker cart on tiny wheels with a monster mouth and creepy attachments! The Tinkering Team that tackled this project really pushed through right to the final minutes as well.

In the end, we were able to load a massive amount of Tinkerers into the truck and wheel them around in front of the audience of families and friends!

What we didn't realize was that the safety testing really should have been completed with maximum load for real results. In the middle of the ride, failure. Two of the casters twisted out and broke the entire back end, giving everyone a pretty good jolt!

FAIL!

FAIL!

Before the casters were attached, we neglected to brace the corners with plywood triangles (a step that is normally second nature to the Collaborators). In the excitement of the week, the wheels were attached to the frame without bracing, and we went on our way. The result was the weight of 10 kids and all that wood pressing down on 4 or 5 screws.

Oops!

Oops!

Everything was fine.

Everything was fine.

With both of these projects failing in different ways, we had a super productive week and ample opportunity to dissect what we could have done better. This, my friends, is the core of this program: stepping back and allowing failures to happen, providing the scaffolding to discuss when they do, and then learning from those failures.

Oh, we also built some rad stuff.

Go girls!

(We're Called Collaborators + Don't Ask Permission) Monsters! All Girls - Session 5 - Day 3

Amanda SimonsComment

"We're called Collaborators for a lot of reasons," was the message of today's opening circle. The adults at Tinkering School are not teachers, or instructors, or counselors, or even really mentors.

Our job title is Collaborator.

Our job is to collaborate.

So what does that mean, really?

Aren't we ALL collaborating on these projects in order to build something bigger than ourselves?
Isn't that like, the first goal of Tinkering School? To Collaborate and Make Friends?

Well, yes. We are all collaborating. The kids. The adults. We are all working on the common goal of problem solving and designing and collectively constructing some awesome things. We are doing this as a team. The adults don't have all the answers. And we certainly aren't the ones leading the design and construction of the project. When we're doing our jobs really well, the kids do that all themselves.

So, a couple of interesting things always emerge in this experiment with kids in tool competency and collective team-building:

  1. The Tinkerers often struggle with not looking to the adults for all the answers. We have to constantly curb this gravitation and push back on them by asking questions and also not providing answers. That's most of our work day: empowering the kids and redirecting the tendency for them to wait until we tell 'em what to do. 
  2. The Tinkerers often ask permission instead of providing informational statements. "Can I go get more screws?" "Can I go to the bathroom?" "Would it be okay if I cut a 48" piece of wood to complete the design?" Yes. Yes. Yes. Of course the answer is yes. Instead, just tell the adults what's up. I'm going to the bathroom. I'm getting more screws. I need an adult in the chop saw room with me so I can cut a 48" piece of wood.

And while it pains me to say this, we often see these behavior patterns most prevalent during our sessions with all girls. 

Today we decided to change that.

In opening circle, we gave everyone two pieces of information: 

The adults are Collaborators (we don't have the answers).
And, don't ask permission (just tell us What's Up.)

And I'd say our experiment of the day was pretty successful. With this direct instruction, the Tinkerers have left for the day and I am exhausted. I spent the whole day being told what to do by the kids. Go to the chop saw room. Help me on the bandsaw. Help me set up this cut with the circular saw. Go with me to find more plywood. Help me install these hinges. 

Thanks, girls. I'm gonna sleep well tonight!

Monsters! All Girls - Session 5 - Day 2

Amanda SimonsComment

Today was Day 2 of Monster week! 

Question! Have you ever seen a monster that was mostly geometric? Me either. 

Part of the challenge of working with rectangular wood is finding ways to make it no longer rectangular OR to use rectangles to generate entirely different shapes. The Tinkerers dove head first into this problem first thing today. 

One of the Half Monster teams was trying to make three dimensional tentacles by first creating a skeleton of tubular triangles and then skinning the structure with different materials (TBA!) 

The Monster Truck team was learning how to cut out organic shapes using the bandsaw.

They also encountered what it means to have too many hands on one project -- this is an especially challenging problem with larger shapes being cut from heavy plywood and one person "driving" the piece through the saw. 

Lastly, the OTHER Half Monster team was making some giant hexagons (for a purpose I haven't quite yet discerned.) This task required some complex geometry, and a lot of folks working hard as a team. 

Whoa. So much happened today!

Also, here are a few more awesome highlights:

Monsters! All Girls Week - Session 5 - Day 1

Amanda SimonsComment

...It's All Girls Week! And we're making Monsters!

But first, we had important some business to take care of. 

Mondays are sometimes hard for this reason.

Despite that our focus is hands on making, on Mondays, there's a lot of talking by the adults. We make a lot of agreements about how to treat each other and the space. We learn a lot of information about how to use complicated tools safely. We learn why it's best not to yell across a giant warehouse to get others' attention and why it's important to safely ask for the attention of others. 

As Collaborators, we also share a lot of antidotal information about our experiences working with wood and tools and peers.  

And for the kids, we all this new information is a lot. So, we create situations where hands on learning is privileged over direction instruction -- where the Tinkerers can get to know the new tools and themselves by failing and figuring it out. 

The kids are also learning how to work as a team -- and for many of them, this is their first time meeting one another. That aside, we hop right in and ask them to ask each other for help when they need it, and not rely too heavily on the direction of the adults. 

...And this is all just the first couple morning hours of Monday. 

So, in the afternoon, we got right down to more interesting business. 

This week, the theme is Monsters, and we are starting with three main projects: Monster Trucks, and a combined team project where one team is making one half of a monster, and one team is making the other half. The teams are creating their halves without communicating, and at the end of the week, they will join their creations together! 

After the introduction of the theme and the projects, we designed, and got down to building.

Tomorrow, with all that formal agreements and training and getting over the shock of a new team and a new environment out of the way, we get to build all day!

2D to 3D - Session 4 - Day 4

Molly MansfieldComment

Today was our last full day of building this week here at Tinkering School Day Camp!

The Great Wave(s) had to do some troubleshooting today to get the waves upright and stable. A determined storm of tinkerers blew the waves into 12 foot structures:

 

The Mona Lisa has a face that can talk! The tinkerers building her had to troubleshoot many unusual screw angles and fix many "Comrades Dangerous":

 

And the Monet Bridge and Lilies group worked very hard to build the bridge supports so that by the end of the day we could raise one of the bridge platforms!

Oh, and we also had a lot of fun today too!

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