Tinkering School

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Day 5 - More Detail on A Long Day

2013 Session 2 - MiddlesJoshua RothhaasComment

Day 5 of session 2 of Tinkering School 2013 was one the longest days in tinkering School History. Since day 2 we've been "just a few hours away" from being done. In fact, there was even a brainstorming email out to Gever on tuesday asking for help figuring out what to do if we finished early. This "nearly done" attitude has kept us clipping away at a feverish pace. A hot day in the sun and more running about than we had done all week left us sleeping soundly. The mixture lead to a strange combination of excitement, eagerness, and brain-dead-sluggishness greeting us in the morning.

All the "easy" problems were done. We'd built wheel boxes. Long, strong structures that could bear weight on minimal wood had been made sturdy. Roofs and been layered in water-resistant tarp. Most wheels had even been mounted. Everyone faced one and only one problem. Connecting their camper to their bike. A morning's work at best, or so we thought. A morning and a bit of the afternoon's work at best, or so we thought. The extensions just kept coming. We will be done by dinner. After dinner we will take get back in there and put on the finishing touches. Ok, tomorrow morning we will take one hour before we head out and just make sure everything works. Or so we thought.

That morning, Josh went to pick up the trailer from Gever, where he had some words of wisdom to deliver 5 days late, "Build your campers from the hitch first." And my was he right.

Zada and Sejal analyze were they are going to install their camper's hitch IMG 8207

Team Nooi looks over their campers hitch IMG 8213

Team Piki rethreads their wood-less roof IMG 8215

Team Panda pools all their recourses and ask for a materials extension to get their hitch working IMG 8219

Team Panda works on their hitch IMG 8243

Ben works on his team's hitch IMG 8254

Evan and Frannie enjoy the sunshine between spurts of work IMG 8264

Team Piki's hitch it precarious IMG 8271

… and full of clever work arounds IMG 8278

Anya, Elizabeth and Jonah start putting tarp on their mini-camper IMG 8283

Portrait of a Tinkerer: Sophia and her very personable apple IMG 8285

Sometimes we just need to ride around to let the problem settle IMG 8312

Team Piki's hitch got an upgrade after we realized how helpful the seat post could be IMG 8315

Team Kablooi's custom caster IMG 8324

Anya is the first and only person to use the circular saw this session IMG 8331

As dinner approached and spirits wained, a major mistake was made. Without fan fair or announcement, a piece of parachord was found would up in the Chop Saw. Gumming the works and preventing operation. Someone had attempted to chop the parachord with the chop saw and the chop saw had sucked it right up. The reaction was frustrated and fierce. It took a while to sort out why emotions ran so high. Was it that someone had broken the chop saw? No, it can be replaced. Also it wasn't broken, just jammed. Was it that someone had broken it and not told us? No. How ever frustrating and wrong it is to hide mistakes, it is understandable to be afraid of what might happen in an unknown environment. No, it was because someone had put their life in danger.

For the first and only time this session Josh had to put on the serious tone and lay out what had just happened (in detail). What could have happened (in gruesome detail). What damage to self could have been inflicted with what digits could have been lost and how acting as a particular focus. The responsibility that comes with attending Tinkering School is not to be taken lightly.

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However, the day had been taxing, there was more work ahead and besides this one incident safety had been stellar. A stern talking too quickly morphed into a pep talk right before it was time for dinner.

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After Dinner we rushed back to the barn. The rush was on. There was work to be done. Lots of it. For those further along, it was painting and decorating

Evan, Katia and Althea summon the spirit of Jackson Pollock IMG 8367

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For others it was a frenzied race against the dark.

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Evan and Zada help Team Piki as the sun sets IMG 8481

Hanging on by the illumination of work-lights we call the evening and tell ourselves that one more hour tomorrow morning should do it.

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From there it's off to the bon fire. A thursday night tradition. Armed with cut logs, untreated scrap and some s'mores ingredients, we enjoy an evening of not-so-scary stories, bad-jokes, and tasty snacks. The evening also became a lesson in how to do dangerous things safely. The example was this. Josh wanted to dump a whole bucket of saw dust on the fire.

Phase one of doing a dangerous thing safely: what could go wrong? The kids answered this pretty easily. "We could set the grass around us on fire." "We could put out the fire." "If the fire "climbs" the dust we could set the tree's on fire."

Phase two of doing a dangerous thing safely: how can we test our theories of what could go wrong? This led to a small discussion on iterative testing. We tried just dropping a small dollop of saw dust and it fell in, not lighting and actually smothering a small part of the fire. We sprinkled it lightly above the fire to sudden and great effect. The worry of putting out the fire and the fear of climbing had both been confirmed.

Phase three of doing a dangerous thing safely: scale slowly. We stopped for a while at a handful of sawdust. The size of the burn was easily managed, and the moisture in the air was keeping things incredibly controlled. Everyone had a go.

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Josh had a few goes, and scaled up just a little bit more.

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And in the smoke of a doused fire, we had a light saber battle. You know, the usual.

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