Tinkering School

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Mark Day Dragon (2018)

The Dragon is Coming! - Day 5 - Week 1 - Mark Day School

Mark Day Dragon (2018)Tatian GreenleafComment

What an exciting day!!! Families came for the big reveal of the projects this afternoon and everyone had a chance to appreciate the big builds and the work that went into them. The dragon roared to life, the castle stood strong, and all of the students’ dedicated collaboration showed through in the well-built structures and creative elements.

At the beginning of the week, we told the students that our theme was "The Dragon is Coming!" and that they would be building a castle to protect themselves from the dragon. Somewhere along the way, the students working on the dragon decided it was a friendly dragon named “Uncle Jerry.” And so it was. Jerry took on rainbow scales and kind eyes. But don’t think for a second that our dragon wasn’t robust. From its articulating tail to expanding jaw to flapping wings, this creature full of mechanisms came alive and flew down the pathway to the fortified castle walls. And waited for the drawbridge to open and to be greeted by the citizens within.

Meanwhile, the castle folks were busy keeping a lookout in the tall tower, continuing new friendships on the sturdy L-shaped castle bench, and raising and lowering the drawbridge.  The students had wanted a tall castle and it was quite a challenge throughout the week to design and build walls that were much “bigger than ourselves.” I’m not sure when and where the pizza flag came from but it was a hit with each student gleefully climbing the ladder to the tower platform and waving the flag to everyone below.

We keep the project appreciation time -- about 15 minutes long after a week of building -- intentionally short as it serves as a reminder that it’s not the finished product but the collaborative process that matters. And then, with the help of family members, we deconstruct the entire project and recycle the materials for the next week of tinkering.  Even though it’s sad to see our castle and dragon disassembled, we have wonderful memories from the week!

Check out all the photos from today and the rest of the week on Flickr!

Our bench was so sturdy and comfortable that I wanted to take it home for my garden but our table was a bit too wobbly.  So a collaborator introduced the idea of “gussets,” triangular pieces of plywood that help reinforce two pieces of wood. The team got busy attaching gussets to the table legs and the problem was solved.

Our bench was so sturdy and comfortable that I wanted to take it home for my garden but our table was a bit too wobbly.  So a collaborator introduced the idea of “gussets,” triangular pieces of plywood that help reinforce two pieces of wood. The team got busy attaching gussets to the table legs and the problem was solved.

The corner bench and table inside the castle.

The corner bench and table inside the castle.

We weren’t draggin’ our feet at all today (sorry, had to get one bad pun in!).  Even though our goals for the week don’t include “finishing the project” -- we value process over product, we made a major push to check off as many things as we could from our student-generated To Do lists.

We weren’t draggin’ our feet at all today (sorry, had to get one bad pun in!).  Even though our goals for the week don’t include “finishing the project” -- we value process over product, we made a major push to check off as many things as we could from our student-generated To Do lists.

Each day is an opportunity to learn a new tool.  Today's included a rope cutter.

Each day is an opportunity to learn a new tool.  Today's included a rope cutter.

During circle time, the collaborators provided a few skits about how to work as a team in our space and how to best use tools and carry materials. Today, we had a request from Cyrus for a skit. But there wasn’t a skit planned by the collaborators so I asked Cyrus if he had a skit in mind.  He jumped at the chance and led an impromptu performance, asking two other tinkerers to join him.

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These are only a few of the MANY photos we took of tinkerers collaborating and making friendstrying harder than usual, making something bigger than ourselves, and making mistakes and learning from them throughout the week.  We will post more on our Flickr page so that families can enjoy them.

The Dragon is Coming! - Day 4 - Week 1 - Mark Day School

Mark Day Dragon (2018)David St. MartinComment

Often Thursdays are rough. We have so much to do, we're tired and the clock is ticking! Today was quite normal in that sense. We had some major breakthroughs as we pushed through until we found ways to do what we wanted to do..like put a platform in the tower, or a hinged tail on our dragon. At the end of the day, almost everyone had examples of how they worked harder than usual.

Tomorrow is a big day! We have a morning build session to get as many details as possible completed, then in the afternoon, the unveiling! All family members are invited! 

Putting wheels on is a sign we're nearing completion-It isn't easy to turn a giant dragon on the side and install 14 wheels!

Putting wheels on is a sign we're nearing completion-It isn't easy to turn a giant dragon on the side and install 14 wheels!

building a strong enough deck in the watch tower takes testing and attention to construction technique some of us hadn't considered up to this point.  

building a strong enough deck in the watch tower takes testing and attention to construction technique some of us hadn't considered up to this point.  

Testing..

Testing..

Drilling giant holes for a particularly interesting jaw design is physically taxing. Four holes later there is quite a sense of accomplishment. 

Drilling giant holes for a particularly interesting jaw design is physically taxing. Four holes later there is quite a sense of accomplishment. 

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Posted, as requested, by these tinkerers.

Posted, as requested, by these tinkerers.

Tinkering is.. 1. working together 2. accomplishing new things.

Tinkering is.. 1. working together 2. accomplishing new things.

The Dragon is Coming! - Day 3 - Week 1 - Mark Day School

Mark Day Dragon (2018)Tatian GreenleafComment

Fire and jaws and tail, oh my! The dragon is taking shape and even starting to move. The castle walls are rising to the sky and plans are being drawn for lowering the drawbridge. When you know how to use many different tools, you can spend a morning attaching tail segments and an afternoon framing a castle tower.

The jigsaw continues to be a popular tool for making tower walls and dragon wings, among other things.

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The castle walls are in place and we’re starting to take the clamps off in order to secure the wood with screws.

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We also had some impromptu castle dancing. 

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And it wouldn’t be The Summer of Mechanisms without pulleys and levers! Charles and David led workshops to demonstrate and discuss how to manipulate these materials to leverage our strength. 

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At lunch time, we listened to stories about tinkering.

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It's a good sign when kids start taking on leadership roles and self-organizing their builds.

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The head and jaws are coming to life.

The head and jaws are coming to life.

Attaching the tail took teamwork and patience.

Attaching the tail took teamwork and patience.

Click through for a few more photos from the day...

 
 

The Dragon is Coming! - Day 2 - Week 1 - Mark Day School - Building BIG

Mark Day Dragon (2018)David St. MartinComment

Where do you start when you're building a 17 foot long dragon? Well, you start with one section of body at a time. You build checklists, find a few friends, and get building! The same thing goes for building castles. Conversations about drawbridge mechanisms, articulating the dragon or adding moving wings all grow from seeing the other elements take shape. 

 
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We've decided the dragon needs to have seats inside.

We've decided the dragon needs to have seats inside.

In the belly of the dragon...

In the belly of the dragon...

Getting to know each other and sharing what we're learning together.

Getting to know each other and sharing what we're learning together.

Measuring the castle door.

Measuring the castle door.

At ending circle we discussed how we had practiced the goals of Tinkering School. One goal, to collaborate and make new friends, stood out to everyone as an area we pushed ourselves and excelled in today. Many felt they had tried harder than usual, made mistakes and learned from them, and we All KNEW we were building something bigger than ourselves! 

We can use partner pushes (two hands on the back of a drill) to get screws to drive into wood more easily.

We can use partner pushes (two hands on the back of a drill) to get screws to drive into wood more easily.

With all the wood cutting we did today, it was a big help to have a friend or two to hold long pieces.

With all the wood cutting we did today, it was a big help to have a friend or two to hold long pieces.

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Several of us learned to use a new tool, a jigsaw, to make straight and curved cuts in plywood.

Click through a few more action shots from the day...

The Dragon is Coming! - Day 1 - Week 1 - Mark Day School

Mark Day Dragon (2018)Tatian GreenleafComment

Today, we kicked off Tinkering School camp the way we usually do -- making group agreements, doing tool training, and getting to know the space and each other!  I learned something new from one of our students: the “Platinum Rule” is to treat others the way they want to be treated.

 
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Our theme for the week is …(drum roll)… “The Dragon is Coming!” Our plan is to build a castle and a dragon. Students sketched their ideas and shared them.

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We are fortunate to have our Librarian, ReAnna Gailes, as a Collaborator and she provided us with inspiration in the form of books about castles and dragons.

We had discussions about vocabulary including: turret, portcullis, moat, and catapult.  

 
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And since one of our goals for Tinkering School is to “build something bigger than ourselves,” we measured ourselves and then taped out an area that could fit all of the students in the castle.

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Every student learned to use clamps, cordless drills, and a chop saw.  

The chop saw makes a big noise but it’s a useful tool when we have so much wood to cut!

We may not have made a lot of vertical progress yet but we’ve begun cutting wood lengths and trying to figure out how to assemble the castle walls and dragon frame. We made mistakes and tried really hard and worked together.

And we had fun getting to know each other.  We also answered the question, “How many people CAN you fit on a spinning tree?”

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I can’t wait to see what gets built tomorrow!

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