Tinkering School

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Mark Day LivingAboveShark

Living Above The Sharks - Day 5 - Week 1 (Mark Day School)

Mark Day / San Rafael, Mark Day LivingAboveSharkDavid St. MartinComment

Our 24 students built a house on stilts, a zip line, a landing pad, a wobbly boat and an island this week. We took only half an hour this afternoon to celebrate the results and show off their accomplishments to friends and family, knowing the project will live on in the minds of these tinkerers. Each one of them took ownership of the project in their own way, tried harder than usual, made mistakes they learned from and so much more. Enjoy the photos from our week one project reveal, and thank you to everyone who pitched in to help in the take-apart at the end of the day!

To see more photos from the week, visit our Flickr page.

A spade bit or hole saw can be secured in a drill chuck and used to make large holes in wood.

A spade bit or hole saw can be secured in a drill chuck and used to make large holes in wood.

Making 45 degree cuts on the chop saw.

Making 45 degree cuts on the chop saw.

Click through the gallery below for more photos from today.

Living Above The Sharks - Day 4 - Week 1 (Mark Day School)

Mark Day/San Rafael, Mark Day LivingAboveSharkTatian GreenleafComment

Thursdays are a big day at Tinkering School. We have two long build sessions to push through and bring our projects to near-completion. As the structures take on three dimensions and become bigger than ourselves, the excitement becomes palpable. We start to think of this wood and these screws not just as materials for construction but as a way to tell a story. We’re figuring out a way to live above the sharks!

Click through below to see our exciting process of lifting the house onto the stilts using pulleys.

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And our house, now attached and inhabitable, is taking on a personality of its own with inspirational quotes and positive messages on its walls. It’s extra encouraging when such moments happen spontaneously from our tinkerers without our prompting. I do like to think that our group agreements and playground rules around inclusion had something to do with it…

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A wobbly boat base

A wobbly boat base

And a test rider

And a test rider

The blue clamp at the far left is holding the stop block.

The blue clamp at the far left is holding the stop block.

We decided we needed a dock to step onto after exiting our boat so several tinkerers sketched their ideas and made a cut list. The cut list included twenty 36.5” 2x3 pieces of wood. After the second or third cut on the chop saw, I suggested they use a “stop block.” A stop block is a piece of wood fixed in place at a specific distance from the blade (in this case, 36.5”) with a clamp and allows for repeated cutting of wood at an exact length without further measuring. The result? Twenty identical pieces of wood cut in a fraction of the time.

Our big project reveal will happen tomorrow at the end of the day. We can’t wait to share what we’ve been working so hard to build!

Click through the gallery below for more photos from the day and be sure to check out our Flickr page for even more photos from the week.

Living Above The Sharks - Day 3 - Week 1 (Mark Day School)

Mark Day LivingAboveShark, Mark Day/San RafaelDavid St. MartinComment

Students arrived this morning enthused about the project and full of ideas. Even before we clapped in to morning circle, collaborators and students were chatting about ideas, improvements and next steps! It seemed like the perfect moment to pause and talk about a few helpful engineering principles. David did a demonstration of bracing and screw strength, then we practiced tracing how forces move through a structure to reach the ground (engineers usually talk about forces moving up, but we find discussing them from top down helps students grasp the concepts more quickly).

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A triangular brace makes all the difference when it comes to supporting this wooden corner.

A triangular brace makes all the difference when it comes to supporting this wooden corner.

With improving tool skills and a little experience under their belts, Wednesdays usually mean the project really starts to take shape fast. Today fit that model with students really taking ownership of the project, iterating on it, and buckling down to the hard work of creating something they’ll be excited to show off on Friday.

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The house gets its walls

The house gets its walls

Everybody is helping to attach plywood to the walls

Everybody is helping to attach plywood to the walls

Another day, another tool! Today, a few tinkerers practiced with a circular saw which is great for helping us make straight cuts along plywood.

Another day, another tool! Today, a few tinkerers practiced with a circular saw which is great for helping us make straight cuts along plywood.

When there are sharks in the sea, it pays to have a raised platform you built the day before.

When there are sharks in the sea, it pays to have a raised platform you built the day before.

We still dream of a boat taking us across the shark-filled sea. This prototype needed some wheels.

We still dream of a boat taking us across the shark-filled sea. This prototype needed some wheels.

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Our scroll saw is handy for making intricate curved and straight cuts in plywood. When one tinkerer learns to use a new tool, it can inspire others to use it (which is what happened today… be sure to check the gallery below).

Our scroll saw is handy for making intricate curved and straight cuts in plywood. When one tinkerer learns to use a new tool, it can inspire others to use it (which is what happened today… be sure to check the gallery below).

Click through the gallery below for more photos from the day. And visit our Flickr page where we will soon be uploading many, many more photos from throughout the week.

Living Above The Sharks - Day 2 - Week 1 (Mark Day School)

Mark Day/San Rafael, Mark Day LivingAboveSharkTatian GreenleafComment

Before jumping into our building projects this morning we took a few minutes to think about the meaning of tinkering. What is tinkering? Why do we we tinker?

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The rest of our day was spent putting those thoughts into action as we built BIG. The supply depot/helicopter landing pad is almost finished and ready to undergo testing as we attempt to expand its function and make it the landing pad for the zip line as well. The island is shaping up and really pushing people to try harder than usual as they work in the heat, use the jigsaw and figure out some interesting angles for the boat dock.

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One of many examples of our first goal “Collaborate and make friends.”

One of many examples of our first goal “Collaborate and make friends.”

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In addition to clamps, drills and chop saw on day one, our tinkerers sometimes have a need to use a new tool. Beth led an adhoc tool training on how to cut a full sheet of plywood using a jigsaw.

In addition to clamps, drills and chop saw on day one, our tinkerers sometimes have a need to use a new tool. Beth led an adhoc tool training on how to cut a full sheet of plywood using a jigsaw.

The house on stilts is looking VERY tall and very sturdy. We did some cautious testing today and we're now ready to put a house atop the stilts!

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Reinforcing the stilts that will hold the house.

Reinforcing the stilts that will hold the house.

A “partner push” is sometimes needed for driving screws.

A “partner push” is sometimes needed for driving screws.

Testing the stilts for their ability to resist the levered forces of our zipline took some creativity. Here we are giving the thing a good pull. We learned a lot and will incorporate what we learned into tomorrow's build!

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Our collaborators built a pulley station to help demonstrate how pulleys can be used to extend our reach and to lift heavy weights.

Our collaborators built a pulley station to help demonstrate how pulleys can be used to extend our reach and to lift heavy weights.

Click through the gallery below for more photos from our day. We will also be posting many, many more photos from throughout the week on our Flickr page.

Living Above The Sharks - Day 1 - Week 1 (Mark Day School)

Mark Day / San Rafael, Mark Day LivingAboveSharkTatian GreenleafComment

Tinkering School 2019 launched today with 24 eager students. We set group agreements, talked about the goals for the week, practiced good technique with the drill, chop saw and clamps… and that was just the first half of the day!

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After lunch we revealed the week's provocation:

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What if we lived over a shark-filled ocean? Our two main builds are a house with a zip-line system, and a heli-pad and island with a way to get between them.

Students sketched their ideas…

Students sketched their ideas…

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…and then shared them in a “gallery walk” where they identified common features

…and then shared them in a “gallery walk” where they identified common features

The students spent the afternoon finalizing designs, cutting wood for islands and pilings and discussing how to make a house that sits high in the sky stable enough to support a zip line!

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Click through the gallery below for a few more photos from our day. We will also be posting many, many more photos from throughout the week on our Flickr page.

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