Tinkering School

come make amazing things with us

Day One - No Civilization Was Ever Built on Bare Ground

2012 Session 5 - SeniorsgeverComment

Sunday Night, August 19th, 2012 - 11:36pm Dig down in the streets of New York and you will find New Amsterdam. Paris is a multi-layer wedding cake of overlapping cities stretching back into antiquity. This session is trying something that has never been done at Tinkering School before; we will build on top of, and extend, the roller coaster that Session 4 built.

In the mid-afternoon, Gever starts by establishing the ground rules of Tinkering School. Firstly, don't hurt your self, or anyone else. Secondly, if you see a piece of fruit, and you want it, you must eat it. After that it's pretty much noise; don't play chase games in the house, no tools get left on the floor, don't touch other people's stuff without permission, don't antagonize the animals, and so forth. D7K 0321IMG 4647 Gever's "Structural Engineering 101" starts to get interesting when he recruits Natalie to help him demonstrate how strong a 1x4 is when it takes the weight on the edge.

D7K 0344 Althea lends her gymnastics abilities to the effort to break the 1x4 when it is laying flat across the blocks, but the elastic nature of the wood resists her best efforts.

IMG 4650 The audience stays with him when Gever dips into the structure of a cell to explain how the wood can bend and recover.

IMG 4652 Tara is happy to lend a (sandal-clad) foot to test the limits of the wood. A cheer spontaneously erupts when the loud snap of the wood splitting echoes through the barn.

IMG 4653Forensic analysis of the break reveals a lot about they way that wood holds together.

D7K 0356 A 2x4 four, according to Isaac and the majority of the Tinkerers, should be almost impossible to break.

D7K 0370 To test the strength of the 2x4 we decide to deploy the Hammer of Thor (a piece of railroad track lashed to a sturdy pole).

D7K 0371 Our estimate is that the chunk of iron weighs about eighty pounds.

D7K 0381 We measure the distance from the target and get the hammer situated to ensure a good clean hit.

D7K 0389 Everybody likes it when a you get to smash something for the sake of science.

D7K 0406 A healthy discussion breaks out about whether or not the board laid down before or after the hammer hit it. The photos don't show the actual moment of impact. Sam, Gardner, Leo, and Natalie find much to debate.

D7K 0416 Back in the barn, the tool training gets underway. Gardner is up first on the chop-saw.

D7K 0420 Natalie decides to wear safety goggles over her glasses to keep the dust out during sawing operations.

D7K 0425 Elijah has been to Tinkering School before, but we didn't get much use of the chop saw on his previous project.

D7K 0428 Maybe it's the gymnastics training, but Althea has admirably good stance and body position for the cut operation.

D7K 0431 Isaac is an old hand at the chop saw since it's a central element in the Brightworks workshop where he attends school - but it never hurts to have a refresher.

D7K 0433 Ethan takes his turn as well.

D7K 0436 And Miles.

D7K 0438 And Tara.

D7K 0441 And Sam.

IMG 4670 We move on to learning some basic skills on the cordless drills. Althea demonstrates the proper way to make a hole and not break the drill-bit in the process.

IMG 4671 Which is nicely emulated by Natalie.

IMG 4673 Before we go to dinner, Gever decides that it will help the tinkerers think about how to design new extensions to the track if they all ride it first. Tara is nominated to go first.

IMG 4674 Followed by Elijah.

IMG 4676 And Isaac.

IMG 4677 And Miles (as a writer, I am challenged by the moments at Tinkering School where everyone takes a turn doing the same thing).

IMG 4678 And Gardener.

IMG 4680 And Natalie, who sees the camera coming and hams it up.

IMG 4681 And Leo, who, upon arriving at the end, declares it, "Not as scary as I thought it would be."

IMG 4682 And Ethan.

IMG 4683 And Collaborator Christie, who goes by in an absolute blur.

D7K 0469 Over dinner, Gever instigates a discussion of ways that the track could be improved and extended.

D7K 0476 Josh, barely able to keep up, takes down the ideas in his notebook. When the ideas run dry, he poses brain-bending logic problem.

D7K 0480 Tara and Althea accept the challenge and retire to their room to work it out on paper.

D7K 0485 The diagrams quickly become complicated.

D7K 0498 But, when they think they have the answer, they return to the dining room and present it to Josh - by diggity, they've got it!

D7K 0515 After dinner, we return to the barn to refine our ideas and get some details down on paper.

In the morning we will divide the work into chunks that can be handled by a small team. This is how it starts.

Tinkering School is a trademark registered in the US Patent and Trademark Office.