Tinkering School

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Cartopia (2019)

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!

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