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San Francisco Day Camp

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!

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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
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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
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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.

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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!

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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 :)

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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.

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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!


Cartopia - Days 4 + 5 - Week 6 (SF Day Camp)

Cartopia (2019), San Francisco Day CampRuby Harrison-ClayComment
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In order to be ready for Friday afternoon’s showcase, everything we’ve been working on all week had to pass significant safety tests. The past two days were chock full of hard work, dedication, and flexibility from every tinkerer to ensure this. Of course, within it all was also a ton of fun, excitement, and pride in our creations this week.

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The car-wash team was able to add finishing touches – getting creative with the supplies available in our shop, we installed a moveable ramp door, a scrubbing machine, a hose, and lastly an automated high-five machine for the car drivers as they rolled through. These tinkerers tapped into their empathy and humor, knowing that not only is the car-wash an experience for the car, but should also involve the driver! Building it was no easy task though and took a few iterations to ensure that the high-five wouldn’t accidentally hit the driver :-) In the end they were successful!

View of the elevator and two cars

View of the elevator and two cars

On Thursday, the elevator was completed and attached to the pulley system we had rigged up and attached to the ceiling. It took some finagling to attach ropes to each corner and meet in the center in a way where the elevator would be stable and flat.

This freed up the team to put all hands on deck for finishing the ramp! After we finished covering it with plywood, it took every single tinkerer to lift the ramp on Thursday, and attach it to the top of the 8ft. tall tower platform which the elevator would open onto. This was a super exciting step forward

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Friday was exclusively spent ensuring the safety of our ramp. Half of camp banded together, and with excellent and inspiring collaboration we were able to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time while still working carefully and intentionally. We placed floor to ceiling support beams throughout the entirely of the ramp, and furthermore attached beams in a horizontal X shape between each pair of vertical supports.

Some of us created a design for railings along the ramp using plywood and 2x3s. Without these we absolutely would not have been able to take the cars down the ramp! After the design was made, we split into three-person subgroups to construct numerous small pieces of railing that could then be installed along the ramp.

Friday afternoon’s final Closing Circle

Friday afternoon’s final Closing Circle

Our car teams were busy double checking all of their mechanisms, namely steering and breaks. Each car had little details that defined them, and more details were able to be added including license plates, decorations, footholds, and doors.

By Friday afternoon, each aspect of Cartopia was complete and we were ready for our last Closing Circle, and to test the cars moving through the car wash, elevator, and ramp! It was incredible to showcase everything we worked on this week to the friends and family that came to watch.

Testing the ramp before riding a car down it

Collaborators tested the cars first. One at a time, the cares were placed on the elevator and lifted up 8ft. The elevator attached to the tower, and the car was wheeled out. Through the slightly nerve-wracking testing phase, one car was approved for full ramp usage, another for half-ramp usage, and the third was decided it would be best to enjoy driving on the flatlands.

Each car was magnificent and it was so so magical to finally watch our creations come to life!

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After passing the safety-tests, tinkerers lined up to test-drive each car through the car wash and down the ramp.

Needless to say, it was an incredible experience to work alongside this week’s amazing and innovative tinkerers. Within the theme of Cartopia, we truly built a thrilling experience and were able to see it through to fruition. And, we had a lot of fun throughout all of it :)

To check out the rest of the photos and videos from this week, look at our Flickr page!

Cartopia - Day 3 - Week 6 (SF Day Camp)

Cartopia (2019), San Francisco Day CampRuby Harrison-ClayComment
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Today held many significant development points in each of our projects! Each of our car teams are working through iteration points on their steering mechanisms.

The handle-steering car made lots of headway – they attached all four wheels, and experimented throughout the afternoon with the placing the lever steering handles in different places. Furthermore, they are working on a convertible cloth roof, using rope to open or close the roof.

Many tinkerers are learning to use the drill press which allows us to make extra big and deep holes to hold car axles, for example.

Many tinkerers are learning to use the drill press which allows us to make extra big and deep holes to hold car axles, for example.

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The triangle car worked hard today to install an adjustable seat and a steering wheel. The steering wheel is attached to a wood beam which the axle runs through, thus whenever you turn the steering wheel it twists the axle and tires.

The T-steering car successfully built walls and a trunk for their vehicle; it is truly taking shape! The trunk has a door which opens and closes with hinges. They also added a single handle similar to a bicycle handlebar to use for their steering system.

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Our car wash certainly is looking more and more like a car wash. After spending the bulk of the first couple of days working on the overall frame and structure, they can now focus on the details. Already they have created a crank-operated scrubber out of PVC pipe and foam. They are beginning on the pulley system that spans the length of the wash and will pull each car through the service. There is even a high-five station at the end of the wash, to offer moral support for the driver of each car :) This will be attached with springs!

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Lastly we have the ramp and elevator project!

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The ramp is 4ft. wide and 24ft. long. The team is being careful to build with lots of support beams spanning the width of the ramp every few feet, so the plywood base can be adequately supported when cars fly down it. With these sorts of projects, safety is the most important aspect.

Other folks are working on a platform at the beginning of the ramp, a middle-way between the elevator and actually going down the ramp. Similarly, they focused heavily on safety in their design and build. The tower is incredibly stable and strong, and passed the safety test this afternoon. We were able to have three people sitting at the top of the 8ft. tower! They are moving on to install railings on the sides, and a ladder for people to climb up who are not taking the elevator up.

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Our elevator is nearly complete, with railings and a hinged ramp door that locks in place. This afternoon, the team realized a design flaw in the placement of their ramp door. The car will not be able to go in and out of the same door, because the location it is entering from is a different direction than where it will be headed at the top of the ramp. They began brainstorming ways to mitigate this issue.

It was a wonderful day at Crissy Field Beach this afternoon, when we took a break from building to play and eat lunch. It is always fun to arrive at the beach and observe what remains of castles built or holes dug the day before.

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Everyone is looking forward to our last full build day tomorrow, eager to bring our projects to the next level and see each different piece fall into place.

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

Cartopia - Day 2 - Week 6 (SF Day Camp)

Cartopia (2019), San Francisco Day CampRuby Harrison-ClayComment
Making sure the legs of the car wash are level.

Making sure the legs of the car wash are level.

Team work makes the dream work :)

Team work makes the dream work :)

Tuesday is our first full day of building, and we always we get a significant amount of work done on our projects, and simultaneously realize the depth and breadth of the work to come! We begin to get into our groove and build momentum for the rest of the week.

Today was precisely that. We dove into projects immediately, hunkering down for a design session that set the tone for a fun and productive build time.

Intensive design sesh

Intensive design sesh

A moment of joy in the brainstorming session

A moment of joy in the brainstorming session

Our tinkerers this week have created a collaborative environment, working together in the design sessions to create a game plan that includes each team member. This becomes clear as most tasks necessitate more than one tinkerer to complete, and in looking around the workshop one sees many helping hands.

Each distinct car-making team has been very creative in their designs, and the cars look incredibly different. We have one roof-less rectangular car that will be elevated a few feet off the ground. They are utilizing a T-steering method. Another team is working on a triangular car, reminiscent of a NASCAR racecar or Star Wars pod-racer. A third team envisions a low rectangular car with a convertible roof, and a handle/lever based steering system. The final challenge for each group will be to add breaks, to ensure the safety of their riders when these cars are tested on our giant ramp!

Contemplating next steps

Contemplating next steps

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Speaking of giant ramp… our elevator & ramp team were hard at work today, getting much of their preliminary structural work done and learning how to add important support beams for the weight that they will be holding. Those working on the elevator began to envision how it will be lifted by the pulley system that we already have hanging from the ceiling here, and worked to install rope on each corner of their platform.

Our car wash team spent the day perfecting the design of their structure, figuring out how the cars will physically move through the space they are creating. They plan to work on the specifics of what happens within the car wash once the overall structure is built, and are taking it one step at a time.

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After an exciting and exhausting day of thinking and building, everyone was ready to go home and get a good night’s rest to prepare for tomorrow’s endeavors!

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

Cartopia - Day 1 - Week 6 (SF Day Camp)

Cartopia (2019), San Francisco Day CampRuby Harrison-ClayComment
Learning to use the chop saw!

Learning to use the chop saw!

Drill practice (make a letter of the alphabet, out of wood!)

Drill practice (make a letter of the alphabet, out of wood!)

At Tinkering School it is impossible to dread Mondays… it’s always a day chock full of learning new skills and making new friends, anticipating the fun tinkering work to come as we envision and manifest our very own creations!

Learning to collaborate and build a bridge out of wood & clamps

Learning to collaborate and build a bridge out of wood & clamps

Excitement built all morning as we learned how to safely use the tools and materials we will be working with this week. Although we all wanted to dive into the project reveal and get started building immediately, it was important to move through the morning slowly and carefully. We spent time deciding on our group agreements for the week, as well as learning and practicing the safe methods for engaging with all of our tools.

After a full morning, we headed to the nearby Crissy Field Beach for some play and lunch time. A group of us headed to the shore to build sandcastles, dig holes, and create sand walls against the incessant waves. It was a quintessential San Francisco afternoon, our view of the Golden Gate Bridge clouded with thick fog, but the sun’s warmth came through the haze and made for a refreshing afternoon.

Initial design brainstorm session

Initial design brainstorm session

Working on a triangle-shaped car

Working on a triangle-shaped car

Our return from the beach marked the highlight of Monday, as our theme and projects for this week were revealed to be… Cartopia: a luxurious land where cars and their drivers are pampered and re-fueled with positive vibes before driving down and thrilling course! You may be wondering, what does this mean in the context of Tinkering School projects?

We have one group of tinkerers working on building three small cars - each will be a different shape and size, with unique steering mechanisms. These will be the vehicles drive through the rest of the Cartopia course.

The definition of teamwork: three tinkerers using a level to make sure the leg is straight!

The definition of teamwork: three tinkerers using a level to make sure the leg is straight!

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Another group will spend the week building a combo car-wash, fuel station, and auto-body shop. Their project needs to be able to move each car through the different stations, somewhat like a conveyor belt or assembly line. Not only will the car be buffed and cleaned, the drivers will also get positive affirmations as they roll through - possibly from a high-five machine and more! They have begun by building a very large frame, which will provide structure for the rest of what’s to come.

The last aspect of Cartopia is a car elevator which leads to an 8ft. tall ramp – each car will move through the car-wash and into the elevator, which will then lift the car through a complex series of pulleys and ropes to the top of a ramp. This is the last stop. Each car will steer itself down the ramp, across the workshop, and out of the side door onto the sidewalk outside!

It’s going to be a fun week, discovering what creative ideas our tinkerers bring to these prompts and witnessing the collaboration necessary for each distinct project to work together and ultimately connect into one continuous loop.

Combining our individual ideas into a collaborative design

Combining our individual ideas into a collaborative design

To check out the rest of today’s photos, be sure to go to our Flickr album!

Obsta-ball - Days 4+5 - Week 5 (SF Day Camp)

Obsta-ball (2019), San Francisco Day CampRuby Harrison-ClayComment

“Remember when this was just an idea?” exclaimed one tinkerer at the end of Thursday. It is a sentiment shared by most of us at camp – watching the evolution of our projects from thought to physical form has been a completely unparalleled magical experience. The beauty is that it is not magic, but the work we do with our own minds, hands, and the assistance of a handful of tools.

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The labyrinth team completed designing and building the three maze tiers and was able to experiment with hanging pulley mechanisms for manually tilting each maze as intended. The first test resulted in sore hands where the paracord dug sharply in, due to the heavy weight of the maze. The need for handles arose, and these were expertly designed and installed. Unfortunately, this did not solve the weight issue, and many of our tinkerers were not physically capable of pulling and controlling the handles. To mitigate this issue, we incorporated more pulleys on each side. The more pulleys, the less it weighed, and the easier our handles were to pull.

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We also noticed the need for a catching mechanism, as each maze has a series of holes which the ball can fall through. Our issue was that the ball would fall into empty space, out of the game. After a brainstorming session, one tinkerer took on the project of installing a large ramp along the bottom of our structure, which will funnel the ball back into play.

Lastly, more iterating was done on the observation tower. Because it will hold at least two humans, it needs to be completely structurally sound. The team spent time envisioning ways to do this, building ideas, testing them, and addressing next issues. By the end Thursday, the two levels of the tower and their connecting ladder were successfully attached and safe.

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Human foosball continued to wow the rest of camp with the enormity and depth of their project. They put a lot of time into the top beams that will move and hold the weight of the human foos players. There are two tricks here – the beams need to be strong enough to hold weight and not bow or break, and they need to be able to slide back and forth across the width of the “field.”

Taking inspiration from rollercoaster design, they strategically placed small wheels for the beams to roll on. The challenge is making sure everything can support the weight of numerous tinkerers hanging down on seats from these beams, acting as pieces in the live human-sized foosball game. Reinforcing the beams was done with bolts.

The foosball team was working down to the last second of our Friday afternoon build session to make their game playable, and it was ultimately a wild success! While the week was successful regardless of finishing the project (each and every tinkerer worked incredibly hard collaborating and having fun), it was still very satisfying to sit in those foosball seats and play the game we dedicated ourselves to this week. And… it was a ton of fun to play. :-)

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The Minigolf crew worked steadily this whole week, from design to creation. Their awareness of the bigger picture of the project shone through by the end of the day Friday, as the path for the ball became clear and they were able to putt their way through to the end! In a project like this, it can be easy to get sucked into the details of each sub-project that arises in the design, and to end up with scattered and disconnected pieces of a whole. This was not the case here! From the cable car, to the rainbow ramp, to the Golden Gate Bridge, and lastly the Salesforce Tower – the project was seamless.

The team was able to spend a lot of Friday doing finishing touches; testing their complicated pulley system to get the cable car to move, adding signs and fun facts about each real-life location on the route, and installing patches of astroturf to emulate a real golf game! They even built small putters to use during the showcase, making sure the handles were covered in foam for comfort and safety.

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It goes without saying that Friday afternoon’s showcase was a wild success and a ton of fun! Families and friends roamed our workshop-turned-mega-arcade of sorts, testing and playing our giant labyrinth, foosball, and minigolf games. And of course, everyone stuck around after to get back to work for deconstruction. The ephemerality of each Tinkering School project never ceases to be amazing.

Check out photos and videos from today and the rest of this week on our Flickr!

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Obsta-ball - Day 3 - Week 5 (SF Day Camp)

Obsta-ball (2019), San Francisco Day CampRuby Harrison-ClayComment
New tool alert! The drill press is used for making bigger holes.

New tool alert! The drill press is used for making bigger holes.

The first thing we did in Wednesday’s Opening Circle was lie down and collectively take a 30-second nap – many of us walked in today particularly tired, having not gotten enough sleep last night. As the week progresses, we better learn what the schedule and expectations of Tinkering School ask of us, and how to take care of ourselves to meet our mental and physical needs within the hard work and play we are doing.

Luckily, a quick rest was enough for us to pop up ready for the morning design and build sessions. Brendon took a moment to remind us how to properly drill straight up and down in order to prevent drill-bit breakages. He also demonstrated the proper way to drill using the “toenail” method, a.k.a. drilling diagonally. It is a two step process, though easy to overlook the importance of the two steps. We learned to first create a divot, a small hole in the spot we want to drill diagonally, and then reposition our drill and continue drilling in the diagonal direction as a separate action – this intentionality can save many broken drill bits!

Wednesday is typically when projects turn from idea to reality in the blink of an eye. After a couple of solid building days, abstract pieces begin to fit together into a cohesive form. We also get to start playing with the engineering concepts that were theoretical until these precious moments of testing and iterating with the forms that we have built.

Working on the foosball frame

Working on the foosball frame

Proud of their hard work :)

Proud of their hard work :)

Human-sized foosball made strides forward in building their frame, adding integral support beams on the legs and walls, as well as beginning to attach beams across the top which will ultimately hold our human foosball players.

We reached an iteration point in designing the hanging devices which will hold said players – originally, the plan was to have tinkerers sit on hanging benches. It became clear that this was a safety hazard, and would not contribute positively to the functioning of the project to have tinkerers haphazardly sliding along the benches. The group decided to divert the already-made benches to be spectator benches, and re-design their hanging devices as individual chairs.

Photobomb :p

Photobomb :p

It can be challenging in these moments to let go of original design ideas. Sometimes when we need to rethink structures, it can feel like all of our hard work was “wasted.” At Tinkering School, we stress the value of the process of tinkering. This includes analyzing, critiquing, and adapting –through the process, details are bound to evolve to meet the shifting needs presented by the project itself. Our incredible tinkerers handled this change gracefully.

Labyrinth creation - where is the line between a difficult puzzle and an impossible puzzle?

Labyrinth creation - where is the line between a difficult puzzle and an impossible puzzle?

Expert collaboration, installing eye-bolts for the maze to hang

Expert collaboration, installing eye-bolts for the maze to hang

The labyrinth project chugged forward on all of the separate pieces we began yesterday. Our three mazes are completely designed, and (almost) two of the three have been put together.

This morning, we completed a very sturdy frame which will hold the hanging weight of the first two labyrinth tiers, and flipped it onto it’s feet. Until now we were working on it upside-down – at it’s full 8 ft. height, it is impossible to reach the top without a ladder, and we prioritized working safely on the ground.

Testing, testing…

Testing, testing…

A couple of innovative tinkerers have taken on the task of inventing a lever and fulcrum system for our floor-bound labyrinth tier. They have rigged up a system of PVC pipe with different pieces attached to knobs on either side that turn and push up varying spots on the bottom of the labyrinth box. This mechanism tilts it in different directions on top of our home-made ball joint.

Building our observation tower involved a few iteration points today – the original design proved to be too un-sturdy for a tinkerer’s weight, and was very shaky on it’s feet. Those working on the tower brainstormed methods to improve the structure, and added diagonal support beams across the legs. It worked!

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Finishing touches on the cable car track

Finishing touches on the cable car track

The mini-golf reached a huge milestone today. The cable car has wheels on the bottom, and locks in to a ramp track. Both pieces were finished today, and able to be put together! It looks really really cool. Next is attaching the crank and pulley system so that it can move up it’s ramp.

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Furthermore, the team added paracord suspension cables to our Golden Gate Bridge replica. With two major pieces of the project completed, we were able to move forward on building the 8 ft. tall Salesforce Tower. Work continued on a second ramp as well – this one is called the rainbow ramp in honor of San Francisco’s Castro District. The team is dedicated to representing many different aspects of what makes San Francisco such a special city.

The team is taking to heart the challenge that their minigolf ball must end at least 4ft. higher than where it started – throughout it’s course, it will traverse heights even grander than 4 ft.

As Collaborators, we are privileged to be working with such incredible tinkerers this week, who are dedicated to challenging themselves to grow and learn. When given certain restraints, they go above and beyond!

Chillaxing on the beach during lunch time

Chillaxing on the beach during lunch time

Take a look at all of the magical happenings at Tinkering School this week on our Flickr page.

Obsta-ball - Day 2 - Week 5 (SF Day Camp)

Obsta-ball (2019), San Francisco Day CampRuby Harrison-ClayComment
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After our first full day of building, each obstacle ball challenge is even more complex than we anticipated during yesterday afternoon’s preliminary design session! With more time to experiment and re-iterate ideas, pieces are beginning to fall into place.

We began the day with an engineering challenge, offered by our Collaborators Aili and Derrick. In Opening Circle, we spent some time learning about and observing the functionality of a fulcrum and a lever. Demonstrating this with a makeshift see-saw, Aili and Derrick explained how to use force to move a lever on a fulcrum (a.k.a. “pivot or tipping point”). They asked tinkerers to ponder how to use a fulcrum and lever to most easily lift a Collaborator – where should force be applied, and where should the Collaborator be placed, in relation to the fulcrum?

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Next we moved into our morning design sessions, slowing down just enough to collectively decide what tasks need to be completed to build our grand projects, and who on the team will complete each task! After each group was able to check-in and re-orient, we moved into building.

Our human-sized foosball team made progress building the 24x8 ft. frame which will be the stage for the game. They definitely are accomplishing our tinkering goal of building something bigger than ourselves, particularly because each moment of attaching beams requires more than one tinkerer!

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To address the question of how real-life humans will become the actual foosball pieces, tinkerers envisioned long benches that hang down from beams going across the top of the frame, or field so to speak.

What remains is the challenge of outside players moving and controlling the foosball pieces. These innovative and creative tinkerers are playing with wheels and other rolling mechanisms to reduce the friction that will be caused by the weight of benches and multiple humans.

Some of the tinkerers also designed and began building a ladder to reach the top of the frame.

The labyrinth team meanwhile took a lot of creative liberty with designing their labyrinth, and is working on a 3-tiered maze game!

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Two tiers are simultaneously hanging from a larger frame, to be controlled via pulleys, and one tier sits on the ground with side knobs to enact it’s tilting motion. The ball must be maneuvered through each tier one after another. Today, the team added an observation tower – because the top two tiers are above eye-level of both spectators and those controlling the pulleys, a tinkerer will sit on an observation deck for each level to direct the pulley-controllers! Designing the mazes has been a lot of fun.

Our mini-golf came is everything but mini. The group split into many subgroups, working on varying different obstacles within their “city” theme. The first hole is taking on different aspects of San Francisco, and the group hopes to design Paris and London themed holes next.

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The cable car is taking shape, with tinkerers utilizing wooden dowels to emulate the particular design of our beloved San Francisco cable cars. Those working on the Golden Gate Bridge spent the day working on the two towers, and plan to use paracord to re-create the suspension cables on the actual bridge.

At Closing Circle, we revisited the question posed by Aili and Derrick this morning by experimenting with different placements for a Collaborator (the load) in relation to applied downward force. Collectively, we decided that the easiest way to lift weight using a lever would be placing the weight or load on the lever closest to the location of the fulcrum, and applying the force furthest from the fulcrum.

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We are all feeling invigorated by the scope of the projects this week, and anticipate a fun Friday showcase when we get to interact with the bigger-than-life-size obsta-ball games we are creating!

For more photos from today, check out our Flickr page!

Obsta-ball - Day 1 - Week 5 (SF Day Camp)

Obsta-ball (2019), San Francisco Day CampRuby Harrison-ClayComment
Drill practice!

Drill practice!

Today was a wonderful start to a week full of thinking and tinkering! Our challenges this week are particularly design-heavy, as each project needs to be meticulously thought out in order to work properly. This will be a growth point for many of our tinkerers who love to dive right in to drilling anything they can get their hands on :)

Expert collaboration skills.

Expert collaboration skills.

Before jumping into projects, though… We began the day setting intentions and goals for our week, looking at the four core tinkering goals as well as envisioning group agreements to foster a supportive and safe space together. We learned handy phrases such as “How can I help?” and “No means no,” to facilitate effective collaboration and respectful engagement, as well as safety when handling power tools.

We spent the rest of the morning familiarizing ourselves with the primary tools and materials we will be using to create our epic projects – drills, screws, clamps, and the chop-saw.

Proud of their Z

Proud of their Z

Brendon prepping for the reveal…

Brendon prepping for the reveal…

After a busy morning, we headed to the Crissy Field beach for our daily play and lunch time. It was a beautiful sunny day, and tinkerers scattered themselves within our beach boundaries to play football, bounce balls, dig holes, build sandcastles, read, and have picnics!

At this point, the anticipation was mounting… everyone was itching to get back to the workshop to uncover this week’s theme and projects! Immediately upon return from the beach, we gathered into a circle for the reveal.

After a suspenseful drumroll and countdown, Brendon and Kai exposed the hidden whiteboard to view this week’s theme… Obsta-ball. It took a moment to connect the dots… obstacle ball? What does that mean? We delved into the specifics of each project to learn more. This week, we will have a team working on a mini-golf course, a team working on a human-sized foosball game, and a team working on an 8x8 size labyrinth game. More details became apparent as we split into our design sessions.

Workshopping tilting mechanisms for the Labyrinth.

Workshopping tilting mechanisms for the Labyrinth.

The labyrinth team is inspired by the classic labyrinth toy, which tilts to propel a marble through a complex maze of walls and holes. We have created a 3-tier stacked maze. The top two mazes will hang from an 8x8 frame and be controlled from the sides via levers attached to pulleys. The bottom-most maze sits on the floor and will be tilted with handles on the sides. The structure will sit on a fulcrum and have internal arms and weights to assist in the tilting feature which will guide our golf-ball (replacing the marble from the original game… at Tinkering School we always go big!).

Design session for mini-golf

Design session for mini-golf

Putting clamp skills to work in our afternoon build session!

Putting clamp skills to work in our afternoon build session!

Lots of fun was had envisioning the mini-golf game – particularly because the challenge here is for the ball to end up at least 4 ft higher than where it started! The group decided on a city-themed game, where each hole relates to a different city. Obviously, the first one will be San Francisco. The ball will go across the Golden Gate bridge and into a cable car operated with a pulley system. Following that, it ends at the top of the Salesforce Tower! We began experimenting with ramps, tunnels, gutters, and springs to achieve this.

Last but not least we have the foosball team. This team will be creating a human-sized version of the game, so it has to be at least 8 ft. wide and 24. ft wide. Instead of foosball pieces, we will have our very own Tinkerers as the players! This means rigging up a harness system within very strong frames. The group got a good start on building this afternoon.

The jigsaw is best for cutting plywood.

The jigsaw is best for cutting plywood.

The projects this week are truly bigger than ourselves, and will need many tinkerers not only to build but to operate! We are all invigorated by the prompts and challenges we are presented with this week, and can’t wait to put our new skills to work tomorrow.

Check out the rest of today’s photos on our Flickr page!

Lava World - Day 5 - Week 4 (SF Day Camp)

Lava World (2019), San Francisco Day CampRuby Harrison-ClayComment
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So much happened today, it is hard to know where to begin!

We began the day knowing that there were a lot of tasks to do, and limited time because today was the last day of camp. It took a lot of patience and self-control to continue moving through the workshop slowly, carefully, and safely, keeping in mind our dedication to the tinkering process and not the outcome or the finished product.

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That being said, it was marvelous to watch each project enter it’s final stages. Some (the drawbridge, elevator, and volcano), moved from disconnected pieces and half-finished projects to completed work in what felt like the blink of an eye! Others spent time focusing on detail work and offering themselves to other groups needing help.

Every tinkerer put their all into the work today, immersing ourselves in analysis, iteration, and creation.

By the end of the day, it was time for our volcanic eruption! With families and friends present, many of us clamored onto the various forts and bridges, safely off the ground in anticipation of the waves of lava that would soon cover the floor. Our catchment team was stationed on their vehicle, armed with claws, to traverse the area trapping and catching soaring lava balloons.

After a countdown from 10, the volcano rumbled, smoke (from a stealthily hidden fog machine) pouring out of it’s crater top. Suddenly, dozens of balloons shot up and out into the Palace of Fine Arts! Luckily we were safe, and the catchment team expertly caught and processed (a.k.a. popped) much of the lava.

Above:  The volcanic explosion!  Below:  View from inside the volcano and during the launch!

Above: The volcanic explosion! Below: View from inside the volcano and during the launch!

The remainder of the afternoon was spent playing on the bridges and forts, testing the drawbridge and elevator mechanisms, wheeling around the space in our various small handmade vehicles.

Full-fledge catchment vehicle at work!

Full-fledge catchment vehicle at work!

Until, the grand finale… deconstruction of all of our projects :) Surprisingly, this always takes a fraction of the time that the build takes. Within an hour, every project was completely taken apart and all of the materials back in their places, ready for next week’s tinkerers to build something out of new ideas.

Check out all of our amazing photos from today on our Flickr!

Lava World - Day 4 - Week 4 (SF Day Camp)

Lava World (2019), San Francisco Day CampRuby Harrison-ClayComment
A moment of joy while making a trapdoor for a fort

A moment of joy while making a trapdoor for a fort

Thursday was a day full of inspiring developments and iteration points, as each project truly took form.

Everyone has been so excited to build that we’ve broken a record number of drill bits this week! Consequently, we are low on drill bits and took a moment this morning to brainstorm better drilling technique, analyzing mistakes made in the past in order to learn from them. Many tinkerers picked up a technique called “toenailing” to drill a screw in diagonally – there is a precision to the method, though, and if rushed and done incorrectly it often leads to breaking drill bits. We collectively agreed to slow down within the excitement our last full build day. Furthermore, we analyzed the drill as a new form of fulcrum, similar to the see-saw and door hinge we looked at in the past two days.

View of the workshop from the office! Projects are looking very epic.

View of the workshop from the office! Projects are looking very epic.

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This morning, the volcano team was finally able to lift the inner tunnel structure into the volcano frame to take measurements for diagonal beams that will ultimately inform the shape of the volcano. By the end of the day, we started sheeting the exterior of the volcano with plastic.

Even more invigorating were the moments of envisioning, creating, and testing the slingshot mechanism we developed for our balloon lava launcher. After days of playing and tinkering with different concepts and methods, it was very satisfying to settle on one. Furthermore, we led a successful test of the mechanism we built.

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Though the morning began with most of the volcano group disheartened at the week’s progress (many tinkerers felt we would not complete the project in time), we made many steps forward. More importantly, we banded together as a group and remained committed to the work ahead of us, collaborating and experimenting while having a lot of fun.

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Playing in the midst of building :)

Playing in the midst of building :)

The catchment team was able to finesse the vehicle we have been working on this week, adding wheels to the structure and moving into testing phases with our steering system. Inventing a steering system on a wheeled vehicle is a difficult task, though seemingly routine as many of us engage with these in our daily commutes.

With the vehicle on wheels and moving, it became necessary to design a seat on the cart. The obvious choice for a comfy driver’s seat was foam! Additionally, although the catchment team did design numerous ways of catching the balloon lava, the need arose for a holding/processing chamber for said balloons. Work on this began this afternoon.

Testing the bucket-pulley system for sending secret messages across forts.

Testing the bucket-pulley system for sending secret messages across forts.

Taking important measurements

Taking important measurements

Our incredible forts and bridges team has been making very impressive structures. We rearranged things so the 8x8 floor-based fort connects via drawbridge to a standing 4x4 treehouse-esque fort, off which a 16ft. standing bridge juts out. These will surround the erupting volcano tomorrow during the showcase.

This team has done an excellent job of ensuring their structures are safe to be climbed on, and they have been aware of weight limits on the structures and clearly communicating this to those engaging with it.

While today was marked by the building of numerous ladders suddenly necessary as everything with the forts and bridges comes together off the floor, one sub-group had a spur-of-the-moment idea to construct an elevator from the ground to the top of the bridge. By the end of today, we had the frame built and minds whizzing with ideas for pulley mechanisms to enable this.

Learning a new knot for the volcano’s slingshot

Learning a new knot for the volcano’s slingshot

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It has been incredible inspiring to witness the creativity, dedication, flexibility, and inquisitiveness demonstrated by this week’s group of tinkerers. Everyone is stoked for tomorrow’s showcase, regardless of whether or not we finish our projects in the way we initially planned.

View the rest of today’s photos on our Flickr!

Walking to the beach!

Walking to the beach!

Lava World - Day 3 - Week 4 (SF Day Camp)

Lava World (2019), San Francisco Day CampRuby Harrison-ClayComment

Wednesday was another full day of tinkering, thinking, experimenting, and testing.

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Today we began the day again with an engineering problem posed by Molly – we had a trapdoor set up on the floor, with no handle. Building upon yesterday’s fulcrum exploration with a practical application, the challenge was to place the handle in the spot which would make it easiest to lift open the door.

Those of us working on the giant volcano spent the morning brainstorming and prototyping a launching mechanism for the balloon lava. We settled on a human-powered bicycle crank mechanism that will spin a paddle to flip the balloons into the air. In order to understand the concept better, we created a cardboard version first. This prepared us to create the right pieces out of wood, to ensure the mechanism will work. Meanwhile, the rest of the team continued creating the external structure of the volcano, as well as the tunnel within that will funnel the balloons when they are launched.

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The forts and bridges team got most of their project off the ground today! Literally. Smaller sub-groups working on two of the different forts and bridges completed the stilts that hold up their structures, and the structures were able to be flipped into their correct positioning. From there, it was testing the structural integrity of their designs, putting actual human weight on the platforms and adjusting weaker spots.

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Tinkerers working on the catchment system put their minds to work on a steering system for their wheeled vehicle. The vehicle is almost finished being built, and a lot of structural progress was made today. Lastly, the claw arm for the front of the vehicle was completed. It is a complicated piece of machinery, operated with a string pulling on the springs holding two pieces together. Once the string is released, the claw snaps shut again. Tomorrow will involve attaching the claw to the vehicle.

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The weather today was so wonderful that we were able to spend our lunch time at the beach. Some tinkerers brought a shovel, and combined with our buckets we were able to dig some extremely deep holes and build extravagant sandcastles!

At the end of the day, we revisited our door hinge challenge. Based on what we learned yesterday, we decided that the best spot for a door handle is furthest from the hinge. Many tinkerers compared our trapdoor to a regular bedroom door, noting that the handle is often on the rightmost side. Compared to doors with handles in the center of the door, these are much easier to open! We contemplated potential reasons for having a center door handle (decoration? confusion?) before parting ways for the day.

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Tomorrow is our last full build day! Check out today’s photos on our Flickr.



Lava World - Day 2 - Week 4 (SF Day Camp)

Lava World (2019), San Francisco Day CampRuby Harrison-ClayComment

What did Tuesday have in store for this week’s inquisitive tinkering minds?

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We began the day with a puzzle or brainteaser of sorts – Molly introduced to us the concept of a fulcrum. She demonstrated a simple see-saw mechanism by finding the central balance point of lever on a fulcrum, and then posed our challenge. Where could we place a fulcrum and level in order to lift a bus? Everyone had the day to mull it over, to do experiments with the lever and fulcrum she had set up in our engineering gallery, and come up with the answer which would be shared at closing circle.

Taking the lead on the catchment system design session

Taking the lead on the catchment system design session

With the wheels of our minds spinning already, we headed to our daily morning design and build sessions, eager to get to work on our projects.

Much headway was made in the enormity of the forts and bridges team – they have set out to build four forts of differing size and roof structure, and 16ft. bridges in between each. One bridge will be a drawbridge, and there will be a pulley system between them all to send a bucket of messages and special objects back and forth. The challenge that this group faces is ensuring the structural strength and integrity of their work. In order to protect us all from the impending lava explosion of the volcano, each fort and bridge needs to be at least 4ft. off the ground. Their designs need to hold human weight against the forces of gravity!

Bridge-building

Bridge-building

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The volcano team spent the day building the overall frame of the volcano, while brainstorming and experimenting with different methods of physically launching the balloon lava. We thought through different methods including a rubber-band propeller, a platform or net that can launch via springs or bungee cords, and even attempting a prototype of a colonial whirligig toy. In each of these ideas, we are stumped by achieving and maintaining enough energy to successfully launch 100 balloons. More than anything, we are curious to continue tinkering with these ideas to achieve our goal.

Building the inner tunnel of the volcano, which will funnel 100 balloons on Friday!

Building the inner tunnel of the volcano, which will funnel 100 balloons on Friday!

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Across the workshop, the catchment team spent the day tinkering with various engineering problems around attaching wheels and a steering system for their moving vehicle, and building a spring-based claw. We are lucky to be able to draw inspiration and to learn from some of the mechanical examples in the shop’s gallery.

After a long, hard day of tinkering, we gathered again as a group for closing circle, to discuss exciting developments in our projects, mistakes we had made and learned from, and methods of collaboration discovered today.

Lastly, we learned the answer to the question Molly posed this morning! The best spot to place a fulcrum to lift a bus would be as close to the bus as possible – with this method, you gain more mechanical advantage and leverage, so it is easier to lift the bus. Though we didn’t have a bus to test this with, we were able to test with our own bodies on the fulcrum and lever that Molly built this morning.

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We are all ready for dinner and a good nights sleep, so we can arrive tomorrow prepared to take on the next challenges that Tinkering School offers!

View the rest of today’s photos on our Flickr page.

Lava World - Day 1 - Week 4 (SF Day Camp)

Lava World (2019), San Francisco Day CampRuby Harrison-ClayComment
In one drill practice session, each group created a letter of Kai’s name!

In one drill practice session, each group created a letter of Kai’s name!

Experimenting with clamps

Experimenting with clamps

Monday marks the beginning of another thrilling week of tinkering at SF day camp!

This morning was jam packed with brainstorming our group agreements to ensure physical and emotional safety within the workshop, diving into our four core tinkering goals, and learning the ins and outs of the tools we will utilize to build this week. We then took a long play/lunch break, which we spent at the beach building sandcastles, picnicking, reading, playing soccer, and sharing riddles.

Learning to use the chop saw

Learning to use the chop saw

Upon arriving back at the Palace, we went on a storytelling journey to discover the week’s project theme. It turns out the floor of the Palace is in fact temporarily cooled lava, and that there is a dormant volcano within the building that is estimated to erupt this coming Friday at exactly 2:25pm! It is up to some of our stellar tinkerers to build a series of forts and bridges for all of us to scramble onto in avoidance of the coming waves of lava. Additionally, we will construct a system to catch and process said lava. This week’s theme is... lava world.

One group began designing a 10 foot tall volcano, envisioning an octagonal base holding a vertical tunnel shaft within which will harness a large fan to launch 100 red balloons into the air on Friday.

One tinkerer took the lead on the forts and bridges design session

One tinkerer took the lead on the forts and bridges design session

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Many tinkerers were understandably excited by the prospect of building a series of forts and bridges – for a lot of us, this is a dream come true. We came up with a design to incorporate four different fort ideas, connected by a pattern of bridges in between. Everything has to be at least four feet off the lava floor.

The catchment system team delved into a lawnmower/car design, using wheels to move a platform around which will catch the balloon lava as it all lands. The method of processing (or popping) will be revealed as the project develops.

After spending a good chunk of time on design, we were able to make some first cuts and begin construction on our projects. We are all looking forward to starting tomorrow’s morning build session, to launch our explosive ideas!

For more photos from today, browse our Flickr album!

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Shake It Up - Day 5 - Week 3 (SF Day Camp)

Shake It Up (2019), San Francisco Day CampRuby Harrison-ClayComment
Designing a tinkering school t-shirt!

Designing a tinkering school t-shirt!

What an exciting day!!! We arrived at camp stoked to finalize our projects in preparation for the showcase this afternoon. For every group, much of today was spent testing mechanisms to ensure the projects would work properly. Friday is always bittersweet – we get to see our epic creations in their totality, yet at the end of the day we have to take it all down and part ways for the summer. Alas, it is all part of the process, which is what we value most here at Tinkering School.

Testing pulleys for the milkshake machine

Testing pulleys for the milkshake machine

The marionette group spent the morning tying ropes and putting together final design/decoration touches – toes, ears, and a Tinkering School t-shirt! We attached the head and torso to the puppet’s controller, as well as pulleys and ropes to each of the limbs so they could be moved from the ground once up in the air.

Tinkerers working on the milkshake machine put together the various pieces they had been working on throughout the week. Their conveyor belt was perfected, a spring box was attached to the roof, and multiple chutes were set up from the sides. One camper was careful to continuously remind everyone that the ladder they were building was unsafe and should not be tampered with.

The shake shack team also worked on finishing touches, adding pulleys to the four corners of their frame, and a pivot on the bottom of their structure. These were the mechanisms that would enable the shack to shake.

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Closing Circle

Closing Circle

We were able to spend our last sunny day outdoors at the beach, and had lots of fun building sandcastles and playing catch. After lunch and a quick last build session, we held our last closing circle and discussed highlights of the week, including important moments of collaborating (taking turns using tools, holding wood for each other, elaborating on ideas, offering help), as well as interesting and safe mistakes made that we learned from.

Lastly… the GRAND FINALE! The showcase! Family and friends arrived to view our projects that we spent the past 5 days working on. It was so so incredible, heartening, exciting, and inspiring to view the work that this brilliant group of tinkerers accomplished this week.

We viewed the milkshake machine in action, with a carefully constructed barrel being pulled through numerous stages in milkshake creation. After all the ingredients were added, the milkshake was “stirred” using a drill motor!

The first test of the Shake Shack…

The first test of the Shake Shack…

Next we got to see the shake shack. With proper safety helmet and goggles on, two of our collaborators climbed into the shack, with tinkerers operating the pulleys from the outside. Unfortunately, having two adults in the shack was too much weight. After hearing a loud crack, we decided to have only one collaborator inside testing. Utilizing the pulleys, and ultimately standing at the walls of the shake shack and moving it ourselves, we successfully got the building to move! We had many rounds of tinkerers climbing in and testing it themselves, and some even got thrown off their feet :)

Lastly, we finally were able to lift the giant dancing marionette into the sky!

On our first iteration some ropes got tangled and we were not able to properly control the limbs, after lowering it again and readjusting the ropes we got it back in the air and dancing. It was quite an extraordinary sight.

This was an absolutely amazing week at Tinkering School, not just because of the grand scale of the projects but because of the collaboration and innovation shown by this group of tinkerers.

Check out the rest of today’s photos on our Flickr! Looking forward to the magic that will happen next week.

And to sign off, here’s a special message from one of our passionate Tinkerers this week.

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Shake It Up - Day 4 - Week 3 (SF Day Camp)

San Francisco Day Camp, Shake It Up (2019)Ruby Harrison-ClayComment
Attaching an an eye bolt from the inside

Attaching an an eye bolt from the inside

Today was an outstanding day at Tinkering School Day Camp - many important steps forward were taken in project progress, and more importantly we are truly honing our skills in collaborating to manifest such epic creations. None of these projects would be possible without the hands and minds of every single tinkerer at camp this week! It has been truly astonishing and inspiring to witness the development of each project, from idea to reality at the hands of a dedicated and hardworking group. We are all eager to make finishing touches tomorrow morning in preparation for the showcase tomorrow afternoon.

View of the Shake Shack from above

View of the Shake Shack from above

“Enter If You DARE!”

“Enter If You DARE!”

Coating the inner layer with foam

Coating the inner layer with foam

The shake shack group spent a portion of today implementing important safety features into their build – the inside of the structure is coated with foam, and there are clearly marked “STOP” and “WARNING” labels strategically placed around entrances and areas with higher risk. Because their expectation is that viewers will engage with the shack by entering it, and potentially be shaken off their feet from the force of the movement of the building, these precautions are important safety measures.

Milkshake machine testing and adjusting pulleys

Milkshake machine testing and adjusting pulleys

Tinkerers proud of their design!

Tinkerers proud of their design!

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Tinkerers working on the milkshake machine made good headway. Today we built and tested a series of pulley mechanisms attached to a bucket, to dump ingredients into the milkshake bucket moving along its conveyor belt path. Additionally, the group created a handheld chute with the same intention, and were able to attach that to a wall along the conveyor path.

Repositioning an arm segment

Repositioning an arm segment

The shaking marionette finally took form today – the team used rope to attach each limb to the completed torso, using a mix of figure-8 and sailors knots. This afternoon we were able to test launch the octagonal cross which will ultimately hold the entire marionette and control it’s moving limbs. The cross attached to a rope hung from a ceiling beam here at the Palace of Fine Arts, and a couple of tinkerers worked together to pull it up to full height. Some adjustments were needed in the way of balance, but the test today bodes well for tomorrow’s work of ultimately attaching and hanging the rest of the body.

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We’ve been spending our afternoons in a field near the water to escape the windy beach days we’ve been having, picnicing in the grass, running, and climbing. The days are leaving us exhausted but fulfilled and excited about our creations, innovations, and new skills!

As always, we invite you to view the rest of our photos on our Flickr page! More to come tomorrow…

Shake It Up - Day 3 - Week 3 (SF Day Camp)

Shake It Up (2019), San Francisco Day CampRuby Harrison-ClayComment

Wednesday… hump day… today held many important developments and iteration points in our projects, and was a long day of hard work and play. In many weeks, Wednesday can be a “make it or break it” day, where we have the chance to test out designs and structures we spent the beginning of the week working on. It is a turning point in energy levels and momentum, as well as in design and build strategy. Our bright tinkerers took the day in stride and put their all into these awesome projects!

Experimenting with magnets in a moment of break time.

Experimenting with magnets in a moment of break time.

Brendon and Kai and the wood avalanche!

Brendon and Kai and the wood avalanche!

At the beginning of the day, we jumped straight into our design sessions. Right off the bat, a big haul of 2x3s and plywood arrived and we briefly paused the morning to witness a (facilitated) “wood avalanche” off the truck and into our workshop! Our projects this week are so large that we’ve been absolutely blowing through wood in an unforeseen way – luckily we were able to replenish our stock today.

If you recall from previous blog posts, this week’s theme is “Shake It Up.” Each group has a sub-theme designed to create a project that will incorporate some form of shaking movement. In our builds, the mechanical engineering aspects can only come into play later on. Everyone has spent the first few days intensely building overall structures, and by the end of today we were able to see the fruits of our labour, as some of our more complex engineering designs come to light.

View from the inside of a marionette leg, drilling large holes for eye bolts

View from the inside of a marionette leg, drilling large holes for eye bolts

Working on support beams to connect the two torso pieces

Working on support beams to connect the two torso pieces

Cutting plywood slabs for the head!

Cutting plywood slabs for the head!

By the end of Wednesday, the dancing, shaking marionette group is almost completed with each individual body part. We have two each of arms and legs, which can bend at the limbs with hinge-joints, a huge torso shaped by a combination rectangle and trapezoid to emulate the shape of a human body, and a box head! Those tinkerers working on the limbs began to envision and create methods of attaching the limbs to the torso with rope and eye bolts. Each piece of the marionette is incredibly heavy, so it will be a challenge to navigate ensuring the strength of the torso to support the rest. Lastly, we began work on the top crossbeams, to which the ropes supporting each limb of the marionette will be attached via pulleys to then be controlled from the ground.

Tinkerers proud of their milkshake barrel.

Tinkerers proud of their milkshake barrel.

Milkshake machine assembly line in progress!

Milkshake machine assembly line in progress!

The tinkering group working on the milkshake machine is making excellent headway. They spent the day attaching different sections which had previously been worked on separately, and the overall structure is truly beginning to take shape. The conveyor belt is complete, made of dowels and spinning PCV pipe. We are all very eager to see how they take the weight of the milkshake barrel, and to incorporate the spinning mechanisms to physically transport the milkshake through it’s assembly line to completion. Furthermore, the beginning of an awning is taking form, above the conveyor belt wall.

Our shake shack group is blowing our minds! The room they are building is on a grand scale, and both the outer and inner structures have been completed today. The inner piece is able to now fit inside the outer piece (keep in mind these are both upwards of 15ft in width, length, and height). We began to brainstorm and experiment with pulleys - the main mechanism that will facilitate the movement of the inner room to be a shaking space (almost comparable to an earthquake simulator).

Drawing right angles for the shake shack

Drawing right angles for the shake shack

So many support beams!

So many support beams!

Today we mixed things up during park/lunch time and went to the field nearby instead of the beach. Though it was a bit slippery, the grass made for much better soccer, frisbee, and football games than the sand!

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After a good night’s rest tonight, we will be ready for the end-of-the-week final stretch on Thursday and Friday, and to showcase our creations!

Check out the rest of today’s photos on our Flickr page.

Shake It Up - Day 2 - Week 3 (SF Day Camp)

Shake It Up (2019), San Francisco Day CampRuby Harrison-ClayComment
Attaching support beams to a high point

Attaching support beams to a high point

This week at Tinkering School, we have an incredible group of sharp-minded, innovative, and inspired tinkerers who are truly shaking things up. Each of our three projects is GIANT – these tinkerers are taking to heart the idea that restrictions and boundaries lead to further growth and creation. Within the guidelines of specific constraints for each project, there seem to be boundless room for new ideas.

The jigsaw is useful for longer cuts

The jigsaw is useful for longer cuts

Tuesday was our first full day of building! Every group jumped straight into a design session, picking up where Monday afternoon left off. We always make sure to outline our tasks for the upcoming session, so there is a cohesive design plan in place which can be referenced throughout the build.

Our milkshake machine is coming along quite smoothly - the team spent the day finishing a wall for the assembly line, and were able to attach a frame for the conveyor belt. The conveyor built emulates a similar mechanism we are all familiar with at airport security – we are using wooden dowels and PVC pipe to make spinning wheels which the milkshake will move on. Furthermore, they have finished the milkshake barrel. Though at Tinkering School it is never our goal to finish a project, this team is expertly checking off tasks.

Building the Milkshake Machine wall

Building the Milkshake Machine wall

Today held many interesting developments for the Shake Shack group – namely, the challenge of flipping the 15x15 ft frame onto its legs. This exciting task involved strapping the structure to a rope from the ceiling so that it could be pulled up, while collaborators supported it from the ground on all sides. Many structural needs were uncovered in this process, as some support beams came apart and one of the legs cracked in the process. We discovered that wood is weaker where there are knots, and one of the legs had two knots very close to each other. When too much weight was placed there, it cracked. Tinkerers were quick to come in with their drills and screws to strengthen their work, unfazed by some breakage, suspense, and exhilaration.

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Diligently utilizing clamps and right angles!

Diligently utilizing clamps and right angles!

Lastly, our marionette is beginning to take form. Two arms were completed today, and the team has decided to use hinges for moving joints. Limbs are proving to take lots and lots of wood, with many meticulous cuts for 1ft and 4ft pieces. It turns that that designing a human body takes lots of awareness to proportions and symmetry! In creating an octagonal head shape for our frog-human marionette, we had to test numerous different angled cuts on our wood pieces before settling on the right one (and no, it was not actually a right angle… we don’t like to make things easy on ourselves here at Tinkering School :p). Tomorrow we hope to begin attaching pieces together.

The marionette’s “legs + arms” team collaborating

The marionette’s “legs + arms” team collaborating

The week’s projects are so huge that we almost ran out of wood after the morning! Luckily, we were able to go on a wood run during lunch to up our supply. Looking forward to seeing tomorrow’s developments.

You can view the rest of today’s photos on our Flickr page!

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