There's no way I could sum up this week any better than this heroic hamster...
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.
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???
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!
Meanwhile, the hamster wheel team worked hard to complete their stand, install the wheel, and test out their impressive feat of engineering!
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.
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.
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...
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.
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!
To see more photos from our hamster maze week, please visit our Flickr page!