Tinkering School

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Day Six - Beyond Rickety Mountain

2012 Session 4 - Middlersgever1 Comment

Friday Night, August 17, 2012 Up in the barn, there is a roller coaster - an unfinished roller coaster - and it calls to us. Like an itch you cannot scratch, the cookie you cannot have, or the water balloon you are not allowed to throw at your sibling.

It is also the morning in the week when tinkerers suddenly realize that this, right now, is their last day of building. But one can only stand so much premature nostalgizing, we abruptly depart the Ranch House and head to the barn.

IMG 3992IMG 3997 We missed the track so much, that our first collective impulse is to climb and sit and hang on it.

IMG 4011 Frannie (and Josh and Carter) start by whipping up an aircraft carrier style cable catch on the top of the cart (putting aside the problem of the passenger possibly being cut in half).

IMG 4023 Rowen takes his job as cart wrangler very seriously - which is good because if this heavy thing gets loose and hits a tinkerer, we're all a little afraid of what damage will be done.

IMG 4029 By long-standing Tinkering School tradition, we make the smallest person be the test-pilot on any new project. Ben is filled with a mixture of anticipation and dread as he sits on the track at the test height (which we have named Petticoat Junction - further up the track you will find Bunny Slope, Rickety Mountain, and at the top, Suicide Slope).

IMG 4039 While final safety checks are performed, Trent relaxes on the tracks above Petticoat Junction.

IMG 4044 Elizabeth and Christie decide to build a slingshot. Little side projects are the encouraged legitimate peripheral participation at Tinkering School.

IMG 4052 Christie discovers some stretchy material that might be perfect for the slingshot.

IMG 4053 The sticks prove tricky to cut with the handsaw, so Elizabeth decides to escalate to the chop saw.

IMG 4067 Carter and Frannie successfully test the bungie cord braking system.

IMG 4073 If it weren't for the fact that the cart will be carrying a passenger, this would probably be a workable system.

IMG 4101 Ben's cart proves light enough for Gever and Josh to play a quick game of "You Take Him" on the test track.

IMG 4108 Elizabeth and Christie's slingshot is starting to look serious.

IMG 4109 Ben's cart. It may not be pretty, but it represents four solid iterations of independent problem-solving.

IMG 4112 As a group, we're getting better at strawboarding. Trent is working on catching some air.

IMG 4113 And is frequently almost successful at it.

IMG 4119 Frannie shows that a good wipeout is as fun as a good trick.

IMG 4155 New Tinkering School friends Stacy and Joe are back (see Day Two for their earlier visit) to see how the project turned out.

IMG 4214 As the day wears on, Trent's endless pestering of Lili results in her binding him in bungee cord to keep him out of further trouble.

IMG 4268 The hyper active imagination of Christie sparks a new trend...

IMG 4273 ...and soon colored headbands and hair braids are sweeping the Tinkering nation.

IMG 4286 Even the sabotaging ninja (Rowen) is wearing a headband.

IMG 4287 Portrait of a Tinkerer: Elizabeth is festooned with Spectra line.

IMG 4343 After multiple successful empty cart runs from Petticoat Junction, the roller coaster is finally deemed ready for human trials. Ben and Josh discuss the safety and operational protocols.

IMG 4346 Even from Petticoat Junction, the speeds are exhilarating!

IMG 4357 The next-smallest tinkerer to take the plunge from Petticoat Junction is Frannie.

IMG 4361 And as soon as the cart can be reset, Christie is zooming by.

IMG 4364 Then Carter. The track and cart are inspected after each run to make sure they are holding up. So far, so good.

IMG 4369 Portrait of an Ecstatic Tinkerer: Rekha

IMG 4377 With a racer's concentration, Elizabeth has her eyes on the rapidly approaching braking ramp.

IMG 4388 And Kevin rolls by with a huge grin.

IMG 4391 With ten successful runs from Petticoat Junction, and all parts of the track and cart in perfect working condition, Ben drags the cart up to Rickety Slope - the top of the track, fully eight feet, one and half inches off the floor.

IMG 4400 And he survives!

IMG 4404 Frannie is likewise unharmed but thrilled by the ride.

IMG 4408 Christie zooms down to a smooth landing.

IMG 4410 If there is a way to be literally "stoked," Carter is.

IMG 4414 The stop at the end is a very rapid, and thrilling, decelleration - as can be seen in Rekha's face and body posture.

IMG 4416 Elizabeth maintains her racer's edge and focus.

IMG 4420 Liora enjoys the exciting ending as well.

IMG 4423 And Trent actually yells as the cart reaches maximum speed (later calculated by Josh as 16.1 miles per hour - within 4% of the theoretical maximum) at the bottom of the track.

IMG 4433 Rowen slides into the end of the track with a wicked grin of his own.

IMG 4437 And we see that same euphoria on Kevin as well.

Dousing Trent Trent agrees to ride down one more time "for science" so that Josh can record video on a stretch of track that is marked every foot. That pretense proves to be sufficient cover for Liora, Frannie, and Carter to surprise him with a bucket of water just when he is hitting maximum speed.

We built a roller coaster.

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