Tinkering School

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Mark Day Jungle Adventure

Jungle Adventure Obstacle Course - Day 5 - Week 3 (Mark Day School)

Mark Day / San Rafael, Mark Day Jungle AdventureTatian GreenleafComment

The last day of the week at Tinkering School is a huge day. Although one of our goals is not “finishing the project,” we all feel that anxious excitement about having build something bigger than ourselves and getting to show it off to friends and family. This morning, we worked for nearly two hours straight to move the rock climbing wall into place and affix it to the entrance mountain, connect and brace the 14’ slide (the angle was steep so we added railings as well as a rope to hold onto and we tested it before everyone slid down), attach all of the pool noodles to the cave ceiling, put the trap in place, rig the pulley system to raise and lower the chair, and add a railing (unfinished but the idea was good) and cone to the volcano top.

If it seemed like we packed two days into one, that’s the thrill of Friday. Some of the more common tasks like drilling pilot holes, driving screws, measuring and cutting wood, and clamping things together take a little less focus and brainpower which means we can devote those to the final design elements.

Click through the gallery below (this is a BIG one) for many more photos from today’s project reveal. And to see the week in its entirety, visit our Flickr page.

Jungle Adventure Obstacle Course - Day 4 - Week 3 (Mark Day School)

Mark Day/San Rafael, Mark Day Jungle AdventureDavid St. MartinComment

Our energetic team of tinkerers put in their last full day of building today. They’ve really come together as a team. During our closing circle today they had so many appreciations to share (we call them love lasers), we had to cut our appreciation time short before everyone was finished sharing!

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Perhaps the reason the group is collaborating so well together is because the project is truly daunting! For example, the slide waterfall they constructed today is 13 feet long, the platform it attaches to is huge and the rock wall on the other side takes at least four people to move! There is a distinct chance the project won’t be fully finished in time for our showcase tomorrow, but finishing is not a goal for the week like collaboration and trying harder than usual are. Come see how far we get on our Jungle Adventure tomorrow!

Filling the cave with obstacles

Filling the cave with obstacles

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The cave takes shape

The cave takes shape

One, two, three, four drills in action to drive screws into the plywood sides of the cave.

One, two, three, four drills in action to drive screws into the plywood sides of the cave.

Because one of our goals is to “Build something bigger than ourselves” and because we certainly do, we often have a need to move and turn very large structures such as the volcano. We had many tinkerers volunteer to help. Tatian led our group through a step-by-step plan and execution for rotating the volcano onto its side so that tinkerers could add cross beams for a landing platform.

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The volcano frame needed to be shorter to accommodate our platform and to make room for building the cone (make mistakes and learn from them is one of our goals!) so David brought out the Japanese pull saw and gave a demo on how to use it.

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Bracing the volcano with 45° angled boards.

Bracing the volcano with 45° angled boards.

A countersink bit is used when you want to ensure that the head of a screw is flush with the chair seat plywood.

A countersink bit is used when you want to ensure that the head of a screw is flush with the chair seat plywood.

In a camp for 7 to 11 year-olds, we don’t teach a whole lot of geometry (triangles for braces!) and trigonometry but we do have needs for both during the week. Angled cuts are a common occurrence on our chop saw. Our collaborator, Beth, calculated the length and angle of our 14-foot slide using trig formulas. And our tinkerer, Jesse, determined whether we needed trapezoids or parallelograms for our structural reinforcement braces and then explained the difference during circle time.

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Click through the gallery below for more photos from today. Visit our Flickr page for many more photos from throughout the week.

Jungle Adventure Obstacle Course - Day 3 - Week 3 (Mark Day School)

Mark Day/San Rafael, Mark Day Jungle AdventureDavid St. MartinComment

We have a pulley demonstration station here at Tinkering School, so we used our morning circle time to start a discussion about the uses of pulleys (as force re-direction or for mechanical advantage) and to invite tinkerers to experiment with the different pulley setups on the station. Since one of the build groups has a plan to incorporate an elevator platform, pulleys seemed a great thing to introduce at this stage.

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Trying out our pulley station. With one pulley, force can be re-directed but with two pulleys, the force required is only half.

Trying out our pulley station. With one pulley, force can be re-directed but with two pulleys, the force required is only half.

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It would be hard to capture the full array of projects and collaborations that happened today. We have a large cave taking shape, and every time we looked someone else was taking a turn adding beams or brackets to stabilize it. The inside of the cave is going to have tons of pool noodles hanging down, and a team of tinkerers figured out how they should be hung from the roof of the cave. In another area of the jungle, a few students were fine-tuning a crocodile-style trap and others were finishing construction on a bridge that leads to a floating platform. The list goes on, and we all look forward to showing it off on Friday!

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Testing the jump from the bridge. Testing is such a big part of what we do: brainstorm, sketch, build, test, revise.

Testing the jump from the bridge. Testing is such a big part of what we do: brainstorm, sketch, build, test, revise.

Many hands helping to make the chair build go smoothly.

Many hands helping to make the chair build go smoothly.

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Now that the chair is built, we need a way for tinkerers to get from the ground to the top of the volcano. David rigged up a pulley system whereby someone sitting can pull themselves up several feet. One set of ropes requires lifting your own weight while another set (through double pulleys in the ceiling) allows you to pull yourself up by lifting only have your weight.

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As collaborators, it’s wonderful to see an idea go from concept to prototype to final build.

As collaborators, it’s wonderful to see an idea go from concept to prototype to final build.

And once again, it’s time to test. The trap works! Now to add some teeth to make it look more like a crocodile…

And once again, it’s time to test. The trap works! Now to add some teeth to make it look more like a crocodile…

Making an angled cut on the chop saw allows for us to fit wood together tightly. The long piece on the left side of the saw was used as a cross brace to create a triangle to strengthen the volcano frame.

Making an angled cut on the chop saw allows for us to fit wood together tightly. The long piece on the left side of the saw was used as a cross brace to create a triangle to strengthen the volcano frame.

Our chop saw (aka compound miter saw) won’t cut angles over 60° so a jig saw becomes a handy tool for making larger angles.

Our chop saw (aka compound miter saw) won’t cut angles over 60° so a jig saw becomes a handy tool for making larger angles.

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Using a circular saw and guide to rip plywood.

Using a circular saw and guide to rip plywood.

Every cut starts with a “ready call” to make sure everyone is wearing eye and ear protection and watching attentively.

Every cut starts with a “ready call” to make sure everyone is wearing eye and ear protection and watching attentively.

One of our tinkerers added tabbed windows (it is 2019, after all) and a motivation message to our whiteboard.

One of our tinkerers added tabbed windows (it is 2019, after all) and a motivation message to our whiteboard.

Click through the gallery below for more photos from our day. Visit our Flickr page for hundreds more from the week.

Jungle Adventure Obstacle Course - Day 2 - Week 3 (Mark Day School)

Mark Day/San Rafael, Mark Day Jungle AdventureDavid St. MartinComment

Usually the finer points of construction and engineering for strength don’t really become a topic of conversation until day three, but with designs progressing rapidly we decided to introduce good building practices early. During morning circle, Jayson presented on the importance and technique of bracing. This included a great demonstration of what happens when weight is applied without a brace. The cracking of un-braced wood sent giggles of delight through the audience, but if the bracing we saw in the afternoon is any indicator, the message sank in!

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Climb-testing the entrance mountain

Climb-testing the entrance mountain

After the exit mountain group decided to make their volcano ten feet long, they had to figure out how to connect pieces of wood since our longest pieces are only eight feet.

After the exit mountain group decided to make their volcano ten feet long, they had to figure out how to connect pieces of wood since our longest pieces are only eight feet.

The idea of a bridge went from thought to sketch to prototype to build. This sequence is repeated for many of the things we make at Tinkering School. And once something is built, it’s time to test! The bridge will be raised slightly and tinkerers will jump off onto a lower platform above the river.

The idea of a bridge went from thought to sketch to prototype to build. This sequence is repeated for many of the things we make at Tinkering School. And once something is built, it’s time to test! The bridge will be raised slightly and tinkerers will jump off onto a lower platform above the river.

Today was a day to really gain confidence with the tools through repeated use. There were so many jobs to be done. There was also a great energy for building, and lots of cooperation among the tinkerers. This lead to a potentially record-setting day for the number of boards cut on the chopsaw on a Tuesday!

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A “partner push” can help drive a screw.

A “partner push” can help drive a screw.

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“How can I help?” often translates into holding wood for someone while they drill and then taking turns and drilling while they hold the wood.

“How can I help?” often translates into holding wood for someone while they drill and then taking turns and drilling while they hold the wood.

During tool training, tinkerers learned to hold wood secure with a knee, foot, friend’s hand, or clamp (which we refer to as a “third hand”).

During tool training, tinkerers learned to hold wood secure with a knee, foot, friend’s hand, or clamp (which we refer to as a “third hand”).

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Beth offered as-needed training on the jigsaw, a useful tool for cutting straight lines and curved areas out of plywood.

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Click through the gallery below for more photos from today. And visit our Flickr page for hundreds of photos from the week.

Jungle Adventure Obstacle Course - Day 1 - Week 3 (Mark Day School)

Mark Day/San Rafael, Mark Day Jungle AdventureTatian GreenleafComment

We’re off to a great start for this week of Tinkering School Summer Camp! Our first day is a busy one… we introduce our goals for the week and brainstorm group agreements that help us treat each other well and keep each other safe while working.

We also from time to time introduce new vocabulary. These words may have their origins in woodworking, physics, design, or social and emotional learning.

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We always start the week with Tool Training. We focus on three main tools: cordless drills, clamps, and chop saw. Even though we will likely introduce additional tools later, these are the mainstay of our camp. Our adult collaborators teach rotations where we cover the purpose of each tool, the safety protocols to follow, a demonstration of proper use, and hands-on practice.

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During tool training, we also begin to teach about the value of paying attention to our senses when working with tools and materials. For example, when a driver bit makes a grinding sound while putting a screw into wood, it’s starting to strip the screw. Tinkerers learn to get up on their knees or stand to provide more pressure on the top of the drill to prevent that from happening. Or when tightening a drill bit in a drill “chuck,” hearing a click indicates that it’s starting to tighten enough but still requires an additional hand crank to fully tighten. There’s so much to learn! We haven’t even talked about the sounds wood can make and what that can tell us… that’s for tomorrow’s demonstration.

After a nice break playing at the park and having lunch and getting to know each other, it was time for… drumroll… the theme reveal:

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David gave the theme context: “We’ve discovered a secret hidden jungle valley between two mountains. There’s a river that we have to cross, filled with crocodiles, an entrance mountain with a waterfall that we will have to descend, and an exit mountain with jungle vines that we will have to climb.”

There’s so much to figure out in order to build that entire scene! We start with a design session where each tinkerer sketches their ideas and then we start to look for common elements as we come up with our build plans.

What will the angle be for our mountain side? How wide should it be?

What will the angle be for our mountain side? How wide should it be?

How tall should our volcano (aka exit mountain) be? Four feet? Six feet? Eight? Ten?

How tall should our volcano (aka exit mountain) be? Four feet? Six feet? Eight? Ten?

Click through the gallery below for more photos from today. Visit our Flickr page for many more photos from throughout the week.

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