Tinkering School

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Easy and Difficult Things at Tinkering School

Amanda Simons1 Comment

Week 2, Day 3 of Summer Camp got off to a wonderful start yesterday! We are still tinkering with the idea of taking a shipping container, using a crane to off load it from a boat, move it on to a vehicle (which we have to build), drive it across a bridge (which we have to build), and over to the other end of the shop. Because we finished the crane (already!!), naturally, we are now building a toll booth. 

Things are moving so quickly and smoothly (so far) this week, I got to thinking... what are the most difficult and not-so difficult things that we do here? 

Circular saw? No problem. Small fingers and hands can operate this tool. It's easy to understand how to use it safely, and when the cut is just too much for the bandsaw, this is a fine solution for any design problem. 

The translation of designs into height and width in inches? We totally got this. Marking out a few measurements on plywood and then tracing the lines with a t-square gives us a straight, clean line to cut later. We're even pretty good at measuring a framed structure and then using those measurements to cut down flat wood to sheath it. We did lots of this yesterday. 

How about translating those pictures in our heads on to paper, then to a wooden structure? Admittedly, this is my favorite part. The Tinkerers are so very good at this. Even when they don't know what to draw, or how to draw the thing they see in their brains, they are still extra patient and brave when it comes to communicating their ideas with a paper and pencil. The amount of details that emerged yesterday during our toll booth sketch session was incredible: gates and signs and money slots and FasTrak beepers and photo takers and toll booth operators. I mentioned nothing of any of these things, and they suddenly appeared during our design session! Whoa. Super easy. 

Communicating as a team to design, build, and then erect an 8-foot tower that will eventually support the weight of a suspension bridge? We got this. The bridge team raised their towers yesterday, and it is such a wonderful feeling to see something you team built looking down and across our building space! With all those diagonal braces, the structures are super strong and super stable, and -- not to mention -- built by Tinkerers age 5 - 10. 

All this talk about wood, but what about metal? No worries. Some threaded rod was needed for a design yesterday, and all of our pieces were too long to do the job. Patience, persistence, and a hacksaw are necessary to correct that problem, and we just happen to have all those things hanging out in the shop. 

Teamwork. Once we get the hang of it, it's easy to see who needs help and how we can help. However, if we find ourselves with nothing to do or if we don't know what to do, we also know that just asking "how can I help?" is a great entry point to successfully working as a team. 

All these things are really easy. The construction. The drawing. The problem solving. The teamwork. The power tools. The building materials and new people. 

And those difficult things that we're still working on?

Crossing the road to go to park.
Eating lunch without our garbage flying away.
Being okay with playing games that don't have a clear winner and loser. 
Accepting that the first solution might not be the best solution. 
And trying to remember that each of us is instrumental in tackling these difficult things as a team.  

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