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Mark Day Moon Golf (2019)

Moon Landing Mini Golf - Day 5 - Week 5 (Mark Day School)

Mark Day Moon Golf (2019), Mark Day/San RafaelTatian GreenleafComment

What happens when kids land on the moon? It's a lot of fun, that's for sure! Not only did the “Noodles of Doom (dun, dun, dun!)” make an appearance but there were multiple golf clubs for both kid and adult heights, not one but two functional ball launchers and even a U.S. flag replica at the final hole.

Before the big project reveal at 2 o’clock, we worked non-stop all morning to complete as much as we could of the two large builds: the lunar lander and the moonscape golf course. We reminded the tinkerers that our goals for the week do not include “finishing the builds” but we also acknowledged that many of us really, really want to complete them. We were busy attaching noodles, adding obstacles for the mini golf course, stapling felt to plywood, attaching and reinforcing the ladder, and weight-testing everything so we could determine how many kids or adults could be in the lunar lander at a time. We even added mylar — an actual material used to cover the original lunar lander.

It was exciting to see everything come to life as family members peeked into the lunar lander and took putter swings on the moon to see if they could achieve par ( the course had a high difficulty level).

After half an hour of appreciating the amazing builds from the week together, it was time to deconstruct them and put everything away (reduce, reuse, recycle applies to Tinkering School, too). We’re grateful to all of the tinkerers and family members who were able to help out this afternoon.

Well, that’s it for another summer of Tinkering School at Mark Day School. We hope everyone comes back next summer for another round!

Rear view of the lunar lander.

Rear view of the lunar lander.

Inside the lunar lander.

Inside the lunar lander.

The chair inside the lander.

The chair inside the lander.

The entry door and stairs below the lander.

The entry door and stairs below the lander.

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The dual ball launcher system.

The dual ball launcher system.

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The full course including ramp, smaller moon bumps, large bump, Noodles of Doom, hole and flag. (Apologies for the warped panorama.)

The full course including ramp, smaller moon bumps, large bump, Noodles of Doom, hole and flag. (Apologies for the warped panorama.)

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Click through the gallery below for more photos from our big reveal. And check out our Flickr page to see many more photos from the week.

Moon Landing Mini Golf - Day 4 - Week 5 (Mark Day School)

Mark Day Moon Golf (2019), Mark Day/San RafaelTatian GreenleafComment

As we near the end of our week together, our creations have gone from being mere wooden structures connected with screws to being embodiments of the vision we started with at the beginning of the week.

As the moonscape mini golf course took shape today, we began to hear talk of the famed “Noodles of Doom.” There was much pondering about what those might be. Stay tuned because they are almost complete!

As for the lunar lander, not only is it upright and oh so tall but it is populated with busy tinkerers drilling pilot holes and driving screws (long for 2x3s, short for plywood) to finish the frame and start to add panels to the sides.

One of our beloved retired Mark Day School teachers, Mr. Orwig, stopped by for a moment and as soon as he saw the lunar lander he asked, “When does it land on the moon?” We’re clearly on the right track since our design is that perceptible!

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This trap door was a design challenge that our tinkerers readily took on. It doubles as a ladder for entry.

This trap door was a design challenge that our tinkerers readily took on. It doubles as a ladder for entry.

Who knew a miniature golf course took so much wood and so much work to complete? When we build things ourselves, we no longer take for granted all the effort — intellectual and physical — that went into making them.

Who knew a miniature golf course took so much wood and so much work to complete? When we build things ourselves, we no longer take for granted all the effort — intellectual and physical — that went into making them.

In addition to our large builds (namely the lunar lander and the moonscape mini golf course), we’ve had quite a bit of interest in several smaller projects: a golf ball launcher, a seat for the lander, and a hill for the fairway.

Testing the launcher

Testing the launcher

Building the chair (so many triangles!)

Building the chair (so many triangles!)

Reinforcing the hill

Reinforcing the hill

Might these be the "Noodles of Doom"???

Might these be the "Noodles of Doom"???

Adding another triangle to secure the frame to the mini golf platform.

Adding another triangle to secure the frame to the mini golf platform.

Closing circle bookends each day for us (opening circle is a time when we teach new skills, demonstrate engineering principles, or offer reminders about group agreements). This afternoon, I asked our tinkerers to provide examples of ways that they had worked with another person or made a friend today. There were so many hands that we almost ran out of time but we were able to hear from everyone. How wonderful that so many connections are being made and new friendships are growing. I also asked for examples of things we are proud of ourselves for. We heard from students who had tried a new tool (jig saw was a popular one), or figured out a design for a new lander chair or repositioned a screw after realizing that driving it through a knot in the wood was too tough.

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A "partner push" can help when a drill is used in a tight space or when a tinkerer needs just a bit more strength to drive a screw.

A "partner push" can help when a drill is used in a tight space or when a tinkerer needs just a bit more strength to drive a screw.

Taking the idea of a partner push to its logical extreme, this group of tinkerers was all in on helping out.

Taking the idea of a partner push to its logical extreme, this group of tinkerers was all in on helping out.

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The drill press is used to make a hole for a plunger for the ball launcher.

The drill press is used to make a hole for a plunger for the ball launcher.

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Click through the gallery below for more photos from today. And stop by our Flickr Page to see additional photos from throughout the week.

Moon Landing Mini Golf - Day 3 - Week 5 (Mark Day School)

Mark Day / San Rafael, Mark Day Moon Golf (2019)Tatian GreenleafComment

Today was another day of build, build, build with a good dose of design, design, design thrown in. We’re still figuring out the best way to launch a golf ball onto the moon. Is a lever a useful mechanism? What about a rubber band slingshot? Or a pinball-style method? We learn through testing and we did quite a bit of that today. Can the lunar lander platform hold enough weight? Does it wobble? How can we strengthen the things we build?

How high should a moonscape mini golf hill be? Should we have a separate platform beside the hill so that players have varied experiences and can employ strategy?

A hinge allows the lever to swing quickly and strike the golf ball inside the tube.

A hinge allows the lever to swing quickly and strike the golf ball inside the tube.

What height and angle does the tube need to be at to propel the ball far enough?

What height and angle does the tube need to be at to propel the ball far enough?

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Adding a triangular brace to the lunar lander from underneath.

Adding a triangular brace to the lunar lander from underneath.

Attaching the lunar lander feet to add stability but also aesthetic value.

Attaching the lunar lander feet to add stability but also aesthetic value.

After the ramp and the bumpy platform were finished and side rails were added, a team began work on constructing the hill. This was quite difficult as it required several angled pieces as well as angled supports.

After the ramp and the bumpy platform were finished and side rails were added, a team began work on constructing the hill. This was quite difficult as it required several angled pieces as well as angled supports.

Many of our connections for the lunar lander and the golf course consisted of angled parts. So the screws we put in were either added to slanted pieces of wood or needed to be pocket screws. One technique some of our tinkerers practiced today was drilling a starter hole perpendicular to the wood and then angling the drill and drilling a straight pilot hole using the starter hole as a guide:

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In the morning during our opening circle, David taught a lesson on how to correctly measure wood. Being the creative teacher that he is, he made giant props for the demo — a tape measure and a speed square. And he used our blue benches to stand in as 2x3 wooden blocks. Then, he demonstrated with our actual tools and wood to connect those ideas tangibly.

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After lunch, Jayson demonstrated good techniques for reinforcing structures. Particularly, he covered the difference between sheer strength (i.e. depending on screws to hold weight) — we tell kids that “screws are not magical” — and compression strength (i.e. depending on vertical pieces of wood to hold weight).

If one screw allows two pieces of wood to twist and two screws hold two pieces of wood together without twisting, how many screws are ideal? 3? 4? 7? 50? Jayson explained that adding more screws can weaken the wood because it separates the wood fibers.

If one screw allows two pieces of wood to twist and two screws hold two pieces of wood together without twisting, how many screws are ideal? 3? 4? 7? 50? Jayson explained that adding more screws can weaken the wood because it separates the wood fibers.

Jayson was able to support his full weight on several pieces of wood braced in a triangle.

Jayson was able to support his full weight on several pieces of wood braced in a triangle.

At closing circle, we asked for examples of how tinkerers had tried harder than usual today (one of our goals for the week). One way we’re doing so is to learn to use new tools.

A jig saw can be used to make straight or curved lines in plywood.

A jig saw can be used to make straight or curved lines in plywood.

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The day isn’t complete without crossing off a few more items from our design and build checklists.

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

Moon Landing Mini Golf - Day 2 - Week 5 (Mark Day School)

Mark Day Moon Golf (2019), Mark Day/San RafaelDavid St. MartinComment

Tuesday arrived with a burst of tinkering energy as campers arrived rested and full of ideas and eager to get building! Taking some of that energy and converting it into reflective thought, we asked two questions we frequently ask tinkerers to think about: what is tinkering and why do we tinker? The answers ranged from “for fun” to “because it’s good for our brains.” We summarized them below on a chart that now hangs in the circle area. Taken as a whole they really show that our young tinkerers get why they’re here.

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After our morning reflection and a presentation on how to safely carry wood, we got into our build groups and got down to work. The Lunar Lander group had to finish up the octagonal floor, make legs and continue prototype work on the golf ball launcher.

The lunar lander was built upside-down to start with and then a team of tinkerers rotated it 180° and checked its stability. They decided it needed additional braces (triangles) and got to work cutting more.

The lunar lander was built upside-down to start with and then a team of tinkerers rotated it 180° and checked its stability. They decided it needed additional braces (triangles) and got to work cutting more.

It’s not easy to clamp a tube and drill a hole but this team was intent on making the golf ball launcher.

It’s not easy to clamp a tube and drill a hole but this team was intent on making the golf ball launcher.

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Assembling the top of the lunar lander section.

Assembling the top of the lunar lander section.

The Mini Golf course group was set on finishing up their first hole, complete with a ramp and obstacles. For now, those obstacles take the form of “moon bumps” but our design sketches from Monday hint at much more to come!

The ramp in the foreground and the start of a hill in the background.

The ramp in the foreground and the start of a hill in the background.

Moon bumps!

Moon bumps!

This was another big day for measuring and cutting wood. The chopsaw was busy for almost the entire time! Part of the reason it was busy was because measuring carefully, marking wood and cutting accurately are skills we’re still working on, so there were many instances of wood needing to be re-cut. At the end of the day several tinkerers shared how they learned to be more careful with their measurements after that experience. We love it when tinkerers share their mistakes and what they learned from them because it not only helps them cement their learning, but it helps others learn as well!

Tomorrow is another big day of building!

Communication is a big part of what we do at Tinkering School. Asking “How can I help?” or lending an idea to a project can improve our day.

Communication is a big part of what we do at Tinkering School. Asking “How can I help?” or lending an idea to a project can improve our day.

After we affixed the plywood golf platform to the frame, we realized that some of the screw heads stuck up too high and might block the ball. It was time for a lesson about (and then practice using) a countersink bit.

After we affixed the plywood golf platform to the frame, we realized that some of the screw heads stuck up too high and might block the ball. It was time for a lesson about (and then practice using) a countersink bit.

There’s so much happening in this photo but what it represents best is teamwork. Pairs of tinkerers are holding wood in place, offering screws or bits as needed to a partner, and taking turns using drills.

There’s so much happening in this photo but what it represents best is teamwork. Pairs of tinkerers are holding wood in place, offering screws or bits as needed to a partner, and taking turns using drills.

We encourage tinkerers to label their wood after they measure it. This wooden 2x3 has “20 1/2 inches” and “28°” written on it along with an angle cut indicator.

We encourage tinkerers to label their wood after they measure it. This wooden 2x3 has “20 1/2 inches” and “28°” written on it along with an angle cut indicator.

Click through the gallery below for more photos from today. And check out our Flickr page for hundreds more from throughout the week.

Moon Landing Mini Golf - Day 1 - Week 5 (Mark Day School)

Mark Day/San Rafael, Mark Day Moon Golf (2019)Tatian GreenleafComment

The first day at Tinkering School is a busy one as our tinkerers get used to the rhythms of the day. During our opening circle, we brainstorm group agreements that will help us respect each other, work together well and use tools properly. We also introduce our goals for the week: collaborate and make friends, try harder than usual, build something bigger than ourselves, and make mistakes and learn from them.

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The morning gets in full swing with tool training. We learn about and practice using our three main tools: clamps, chop saw, and cordless drills.

Many hands make light work.

Many hands make light work.

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Using assembly squares to ensure wood stays at a right angle.

Using assembly squares to ensure wood stays at a right angle.

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After a fun break at the park for lunch, it’s time for the excitement of the project reveal. Our tinkerers decided a drumroll was in order! To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, the theme for this week is:

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It sounds far-fetched until you learn that Alan Shepherd hit a golf ball on the moon with a club. So even though the moon’s gravity might make for a rather challenging mini golf course, we’re using our imagination and coming up with creative designs for how to represent the moon’s terrain. But it wouldn’t be a mission to the moon without a Lunar Lander. So another group is building a space craft that will land on the moon and launch a golf ball onto our golf course. This gave us a chance to talk about mechanical levers. We started with sketches and moved on to prototyping launch devices. And because we decided the lunar lander will be octagonal, we had to learn how to calculate, measure and cut 22.5° angles on the chop saw. All in a day’s work!

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A prototype of a ball launcher…

A prototype of a ball launcher…

…and a test of a lever system with a ball tube.

…and a test of a lever system with a ball tube.

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

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