Tinkering School

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Moving Animals (2018)

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!

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

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

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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.

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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! 

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

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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.

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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.

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Gotta get creative to finding the best working position!

Gotta get creative to finding the best working position!

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

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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. 

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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.

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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!

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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...

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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? 

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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! 

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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.

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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.

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

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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. 

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

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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.

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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!

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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Excellent two handed drilling form. Bravo!

Excellent two handed drilling form. Bravo!

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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.

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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!

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Day 3 was super productive!

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

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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! 

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