Tinkering School

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Air Benders (2019)

Air Benders - Day 8 - Week 7 (SF Day Camp)

Air Benders (2019), San Francisco Day CampRuby Harrison-ClayComment

Wednesday was our last day of air bending, and we truly made the most of it!


This unique 8-day Tinkering Day Camp experience allowed us to delve deep into our theme. It has been a privilege to witness the creative and innovative ways this group of tinkerers engaged with the concept of manipulating the natural elements for our usage. We all explored ways of harnessing the power of the wind to move mechanisms made of wood, screws, PVC pipe, and plastic!

Our last build session was on Wednesday morning, where we had the opportunity to make last adjustments and do safety checks before the impending showcase where we would shuttle our projects to Chrissy Field to test our projects in the real-life wind, and show friends and family what we’ve been working on for the past 8 days.

The launcher and glider project spent the morning test launching the two glider designs we created, as well as experimenting with attaching parachutes to the gliders to enable them to float even further than they were able to fly.

Adjusting a glider at Chrissy Field

Adjusting a glider at Chrissy Field

Across the workshop, those tinkerers working on the “Cheap Jeep” finished the final iteration of their sail – after playing with and testing numerous different designs, by the end of the week they came up with the one that worked! They finished it in the nick of time.

After our regular beach and lunch time, we came back to the workshop for showtime. In teams, we moved our bigger-than-ourselves projects across three crosswalks and across Chrissy Field to set up. We brought a handful of drills and supplies, and once there were able to tinker with last-minute adjustments and stabilizing the projects for their outdoor tests.

The “Tesla” wheel broke off on the drive to Chrissy Field, and required last minute fixing

The “Tesla” wheel broke off on the drive to Chrissy Field, and required last minute fixing

Our last Closing Circle!

Our last Closing Circle!

Finally, families showed up to view our projects. We all sat together for one last Closing Circle, to reflect on what we had accomplished and learned, as well as ways we collaborated well and exciting developments from throughout this week.

Tinkerers took turns riding the two sail-cars, while many of us observed the functioning of our awesome windmill. The launcher team showcased each different glider in flight.

Prepping a ball & parachute for launch

Prepping a ball & parachute for launch

After a fun time of appreciation and fun, we walked the projects back to the Palace of Fine Arts and all participated in the deconstruction of our projects.

Needless to say, it was a wonderful day and an incredible culmination of all of our hard work.

To check out the rest of today’s photos and videos, look at our Flickr page!

Air Benders - Day 7 - Week 7 (SF Day Camp)

Air Benders (2019), San Francisco Day CampRuby Harrison-ClayComment

We are nearing the end of our tinkering experience with air-bending (manipulating elements of wind to harness power) – Tuesday was our last full day of building! All of our hard work in the past week and a half is shining through in the progress that we’ve made on our projects, our increased abilities to collaborate and co-create, and the dedication and innovation that everyone is offering to their teams.

After yesterday’s test run outside, the “Cheap Jeep” team spent a majority of today redesigning and reiteration their sail. They took apart the structure that was already made and began a completely new version of the sail. Based on what the team observed yesterday, they are making the new sail much bigger than the original design.


Meanwhile, the “Tesla” team split up into two subgroups; one team began building a small charging station and ticket-booth, big enough for one or two tinkerers to fit inside, while the rest of us attached the last wheel and brought this bigger wind ship outside for testing. Bringing our creations into real life allows us to experiment with the functionality of the designs which have been primarily theoretical until now.


Those of us working on the windmill were also able to test our creation outside this afternoon. While a group continued to sheath the outside of the windmill tower, some of us brought the windmill propellers outside to test how they would realistically catch the wind. The spinning mechanism worked well, and the opportunity for testing opened up new iteration points to perfect the design.


Within the glider & launcher group, some tinkerers have decided to modify the original glider idea and instead to design a parachute to be attached to a ball that is launched. We experimented with four different parachute designs today, playing with variables such as paracord length and parachute size. Different combinations worked differently as we dropped the ball and parachute off of our office balcony. At the end of the day we even attempted launching the ball and parachute with our launcher, and that opened up another can of worms!


Everyone is incredibly excited for the showcase tomorrow, to spend time outdoors with our wind-powered creations! Hopefully it is windy enough :p

To view the rest of today’s photos, check out our Flickr page.

Air Benders - Days 4-6 - Week 7 (SF Day Camp)

Air Benders (2019), San Francisco Day CampRuby Harrison-ClayComment

After a fun-filled day of exploration at the beach on Wednesday, we returned to the Palace for more days of hard work and building! Thursday and Friday were full build days, and we made many strides forward on our Airbending projects.


The windmill has taken shape! The outer structure of the tower is completely finished and ready to be sheathed with plywood layers. Furthermore, smaller subgroups have splintered off to do intensive work on creating propellers for the windmill. Hopefully by Tuesday afternoon we will be in testing mode, taking propellers outside to see how they engage with the real-life wind!


It is taking a lot of collective brainpower for our tinkerers to puzzle out the gliders. Although a very solid launcher is on it’s way to completion, it has proven difficult to design and create gliders which can soar through the air after being launched. The challenge offered by this project may have to include re-thinking our ideas of gliders, what we can feasibly launch, and how we can harness the power of the wind with what we are building out of wood, screws, PVC pipe, and plastic.

On Monday, after returning from the weekend, we continued to build in the morning, and then spent the rest of the day outdoors completing 2-hr build challenges on the beach :)


One of our wind-car groups took this opportunity to test the functionality of their car! We wheeled the car outside and found a long strip of concrete to perform test rides. Ultimately, the group realized their sail is not big enough to allow the car to be fully propelled by wind. We are beginning to brainstorm a new sail design.


Some tinkerers took on the challenge of creating new gliders and kites, while others delved into sand-building. We were offered the challenge of building the biggest sand-towers, and digging the longest channels from the ocean up to the beach.

Having time outside on such a beautiful day rejuvenated us and left us ready and eager to get back to project-building tomorrow morning!

For today’s photos, check out our Flickr page!

Air Benders - Day 1 - Week 7 (SF Day Camp)

Air Benders (2019)Ava Koroshetz StevensComment

This Monday we embarked on another exciting week of tinkering! We began our morning agreeing on ways we would treat and work with one another safely. Branching out from our 4 Tinkering Goals of collaborating, building something bigger than ourselves, learning from our mistakes, and trying harder than usual, all of our campers shared their ideas.


The day truly gets in motion when we begin our tool training. Campers are eager to learn about all the new tools they’ll be using throughout the week like clamps, drills, and the chop saw. It’s a hands on learning experience that we all benefit from and helps us stay safe.


At the wonderful location we’re at this summer, we are lucky to have access to the Crissy Field Beach for lunch and play time! We get to spend time everyday building in the sand and getting some sunshine (if the SF fog allows it!).


After returning from an exciting time at the beach, we finally learned what this week’s building challenge/theme will be: Air Benders! We will spend our week building incredible creations that will harness the air to move or even fly! Deciding whether to work on the 12ft Windmill, Sail Car, or Glider+Launcher is a tough one. After settling into their groups, the design session took off! Campers channeled their creative minds and brainstormed their ideas for their creations.


After coming up with the big plan, we were off to a great start! We have one group that got started on a Sail Car that will have a big sail to harness the wind to move.

Our windmill team was deciding just how tall they could make their air bender without having it fall over! At Tinkering school we love to build BIG :) .


Be sure to stay tuned tomorrow to follow this crews progress! To see more tinkering fun from the day, you can also check out our Flickr album!

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