Tinkering School

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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!


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.


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. 


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.


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!


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.


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!

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