Tinkering School

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Mark Day County Fair 2019

Welcome To The County Fair - Day 5 - Week 2 (Mark Day School)

Mark Day / San Rafael, Mark Day County Fair 2019Tatian GreenleafComment

How do you measure, measure a week in the life of Tinkering School Summer Camp? 500 screws, 120 chop saw cuts, 28 drill press holes, 14 jig saw cuts, 61 feet of rollercoaster track, 21 tinkerers and 6 collaborators. But so much more than that:

  • the grit and resilience to power through the completion of the rollercoaster. We asked for a few volunteers to spend their lunch reinforcing the tracks and half the camp joined in.

  • the teamwork involved in holding wood with hands or a clamp so a friend can drive a few screws through two 2x3s.

  • asking “How can I help?” and lending a hand to someone putting the finishing touches on the “Disaprater” (sic for all you Harry Potter fans) spinning ride.

By Friday, we are a well-oiled machine and even though we stress that one of our goals is not “finishing the project,” we all really, really want to have completed the rides and have something to show off when family members arrive in the afternoon.

It was quite the moment when we released the two-person cart for the first time onto the tracks and simultaneously spun the Disaprater with tinkerers and even parents aboard!

We keep our project sharing time short after a lovely closing circle where tinkerers share a favorite moment from the week. And then it’s time for deconstruction… our tinkerers take the lead with drills in hand to remove screws and reverse-engineer our builds so that the materials can be stored away and used again next week.

For even more photos from the week, see our Flickr page.

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Click through the gallery below for more photos from today.

Welcome To The County Fair - Day 4 - Week 2 (Mark Day School)

Mark Day County Fair 2019, Mark Day / San RafaelDavid St. MartinComment
 
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With so much building to do, it might be surprising to hear that today took on a fairly relaxed feeling. Folks were floating between the projects, helping where they could. As a result, lots was accomplished on both projects. The spinning ride was named, and given a Harry Potter theme… a sign with the new name was made on the CNC router… and several students got a chance to work with another new tool, the drill press.

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Using a larger drill bit to make a hole for a PVC pipe.

Using a larger drill bit to make a hole for a PVC pipe.

Our first animal comes to life for the Disaprater.

Our first animal comes to life for the Disaprater.

 

The rollercoaster cart is ready to plunge down the platform ramp once it’s complete. Building over 30 feet of track is no easy task. Careful measuring and cutting has to happen before everything can be assembled.

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Even though our builds do not require pulleys this week, we like to introduce kids to tools and materials they might build with in other situations. Today, David gave a demo all about pulleys and how they can be used to redirect movement or to lighten the load of a heavy object. Our tinkerers learned that pulleys are used in all sorts of applications from window blinds to flag poles to elevators.

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We can’t wait to see everyone tomorrow for the project reveal. We’ll have one good build session in the morning to finish up our rides, then we’ll prepare to show off our creations to our visitors at 2pm! See you there!

Welcome To The County Fair - Day 3 - Week 2 (Mark Day School)

Mark Day / San Rafael, Mark Day County Fair 2019David St. MartinComment

A full day of building…and cupcakes! One of our tinkerers was inspired to go above and beyond and make some (truly) amazing s’more cupcakes to share with everyone this week. What a treat!

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Besides cupcakes, today was about problem solving. Our spinning ride must be able to be taken apart and re-assembled in the courtyard, so the team had to figure out how to make it easily re-assembled.

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Final details like seats can be surprisingly hard to engineer, but we had a dedicated team working on that problem as well, and they’ve made good progress.

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We took a moment for a skit about sharing drills (they are a popular tool!) and for a workshop on structural reinforcement of wood. We learned that a corner with a triangular brace can withstand much more pressure than a corner without one.

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The roller-coaster is progressing slowly, but not due to the efforts of those working on it. The ambitious ride has a car and a long section of track, but each element has taken a lot of time so far, and there’s still a lot of ramp to build! We’ll cheer them on tomorrow and hope a few more tinkerers will join the effort to bring the coaster to life by Friday!

 
How high should the “bump” be and how will we support its weight?

How high should the “bump” be and how will we support its weight?

Our tinkerers get very adept at driving screws in tight quarters. It’s not as easy to use a drill sideways but we get lots of practice during the week.

Our tinkerers get very adept at driving screws in tight quarters. It’s not as easy to use a drill sideways but we get lots of practice during the week.

We learned to use assembly squares to clamp our wood at right angles.

We learned to use assembly squares to clamp our wood at right angles.

Cutting rollercoaster rails on the chop saw

Cutting rollercoaster rails on the chop saw

Which is sharper, the jigsaw or Jayson’s mohawk? This is one of many demos that collaborators do so that tinkerers can see how to properly use tools for various purposes.

Which is sharper, the jigsaw or Jayson’s mohawk? This is one of many demos that collaborators do so that tinkerers can see how to properly use tools for various purposes.

Click through the gallery below for more photos from today. To see many more photos from throughout the week, visit our Flickr page.

Welcome To The County Fair - Day 2 - Week 2 (Mark Day School)

Mark Day / San Rafael, Mark Day County Fair 2019Tatian GreenleafComment

With our initial designs figured out, today was a big day of building. We started with some brainstorming and discussion around the questions “What is tinkering?” and “Why do we tinker?”

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The rollercoaster group worked through two projects today: building up the structure of a two-person car and forming a length of track. Beth led a discussion about potential and kinetic energy. We know gravity will play a big part in the speed of our car. There was excitement in the air when the car was lifted onto the tracks, wheels were temporarily clamped to the bottom, and the car was slowly pushed forward to see if it would roll straight on the rails. Testing is such an important part of what we do at Tinkering School. Test, evaluate, revise, build. And on it goes!

The car team and the track team had to coordinate their measurements precisely.

The car team and the track team had to coordinate their measurements precisely.

Figuring out how a monorail might keep the car straight and how best to balance the weight of riders.

Figuring out how a monorail might keep the car straight and how best to balance the weight of riders.

Sometimes a “partner push” on a drill can make all the difference, especially when needing extra power to drive a screw in sideways.

Sometimes a “partner push” on a drill can make all the difference, especially when needing extra power to drive a screw in sideways.

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The spinny ride is also taking shape nicely. Our tinkerers have been trying harder than usual as they assemble the base and arms of the ride in the hot sun. The testing phase stretched into the morning and included experiments with two different platforms, two kinds of wheels, adding beams to simulate the full size of the final ride, and spinning the ride while a couple riders balanced in the middle. Tomorrow we’ll finish the long arm beams and start a new design phase looking at ways to add fun and function to the ride. We anticipate some good conversations about levers and how mechanical forces move through our structure. Stay tuned!

Measure, cut, drill pilot hole, drive screw… repeat! A lot of work went into assembling this base.

Measure, cut, drill pilot hole, drive screw… repeat! A lot of work went into assembling this base.

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Testing a “spinny” part of the ride.

Testing a “spinny” part of the ride.

Tinkerers get familiar with our tool wall and can find what they need throughout the day. We also “reset” our spaces each morning and afternoon after we build. This lets us practice one of our goals, to collaborate and make friends.

Tinkerers get familiar with our tool wall and can find what they need throughout the day. We also “reset” our spaces each morning and afternoon after we build. This lets us practice one of our goals, to collaborate and make friends.

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After we go through tool training on Monday to learn to use the clamps, chop saw and cordless drills, we sometimes need an additional tool to shape our materials.

A scroll saw for making detailed cuts in thin wood.

A scroll saw for making detailed cuts in thin wood.

A circular saw for “ripping” long sheets of plywood.

A circular saw for “ripping” long sheets of plywood.

A jig saw for cutting out shapes from plywood.

A jig saw for cutting out shapes from plywood.

Click through the gallery below for more photos from the day. To see many more photos from throughout the week, visit our Flickr page.

Welcome To The County Fair - Day 1 - Week 2 (Mark Day School)

Mark Day / San Rafael, Mark Day County Fair 2019David St. MartinComment

We had a busy and productive first day today. After introductions and some time to develop some group agreements for the week, we talked about the goals for Tinkering School: Collaborate and make new friends, Try harder than usual, Build something bigger than ourselves and Make mistakes and learn from them. As the week progresses we’ll keep coming back to these things as our guiding principles and it will help us keep perspective and stay focused on what matters as we go.

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After that, we dove right in to tool training on the three most important tools in camp: the chop saw, the cordless drill and the clamps. There really is nothing like the sense of empowerment you feel after learning to use these tools effectively. Anything is possible!

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The much anticipated project unveiling came right after lunch with the unveiling of the theme, a nod to the Marin County event this week:

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Tatian shared a custom Mad Libs story incorporating words selected by the tinkerers:

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We’ll be building two rides this week. One will roll ('“an epic rolly ride”) and the other will spin (“an epic spinny ride”). The students finished their day sketching and prototyping ideas so we can refine our designs and come to consensus tomorrow. This process is never easy, but it is always exciting to see the final design come together.

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How big is a rollercoaster car? How many people should it hold?

How big is a rollercoaster car? How many people should it hold?

For more photos from today, click through the gallery below. To see even more photos from the entire week, visit our Flickr page.

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