Tinkering School

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Day Three - The Tinkering Begins

2013 session 4 - JuniorsJoshua RothhaasComment

A slower morning greets us as we adjust to our new surroundings. Breakfast is at 7:30, but unlike yesterday, half the girls and all the boys have to be jostled from their beds. Lessons are learned fast as the few stragglers found themselves without bacon (thought plenty of everything else). Those who were up early and finished early head down to the chickens to let them out of their pen. Yesterday we had learned that all the animals are kept inside at night because of the ever present threat of mountain lions. The chickens are the one animal we are allowed to let out without a staff member present.

We head to the barn and get cracking.

Nik (not Nick) and Oren are already moving and thinking the moment we start the day D7K 8649

Ana gets right down to prepping the 5/16th's in threaded rod we will need to use as axels in out arm wheel boxes. D7K 8654

Nick (not Nik) hops on the drill press. An idea is bubbling in his brain and nothing this morning will slow him down or deter his deep need for a prototype. D7K 8660

Jonah and Nik have big dreams about how their break will work. They also have high hopes about testing those big dreams by this afternoon. D7K 8664

Cutting through steel is a Tinkering School special. We don't use to many fancy tools. We don't have an angle grinder on hand; nor a dremel. We take out hack saws and just start cutting. Every week the staff's intuitive assumption that steel bolts and threaded rod are just as changeable as wood always startles a camper.

Camper: "We need a bolt about three inches long or longer"

Staff: "I've got some threaded rod, you can use it"

*Staff member hands over a 3 foot long piece of all-thread stock.*

Camper: "This is way too long!"

Staff: "Just cut it"

Camper: "You can't cut steel."

Staff: "What? oh! Right. Let me introduce you too the hacksaw, I think you two may become friends."

Or something to that effect.

It's one of many less than subtle moments we hope for. One that shows the world is malleable. The shape of things is changeable, and best of all, you can be the agent of that change.

Cameron making best friends with a hacksaw. D7K 8666

Goat in their food tub. P1110562

Ana doing flat ground tests with Kablooi's new leg pieces. D7K 8677

Incase anyone was wondering, this is Piki's piece of wood. D7K 8681

Joey enjoys a chicken break. D7K 8686

The kids have named this chicken Rainbow. Everybody loves and respects rainbow. She is old and very colorful and pretty and the kids often tell each other to just leave her be. D7K 8690

In the younger groups all chop saw and drill press use is directly supervised. The kids have taken to this quite naturally. "Josh! Can you come watch my cut?" They don't ask for advice. They know the safety procedure. They don't look to us for approval. They simply take it as a matter of fact that we are there for their safety. Also, they always get it right.

Josh supervises Ana's cut. P1110564

Nick is confident about the teams new leg pieces. P1110571

Yoel changes the length of some threaded rod. P1110575

Rory hangs with the team. P1110577

The lighting gets dramatic and Gretchen strikes a pose. P1110581

Nooi is done with their braided strap and discusses their next action plan. D7K 8699

Yoel and Nick do some adjustments. The team is realizing that the torso piece doesn't fit everyone equally well. D7K 8702

Rory thinks through something interesting. D7K 8705

Joey and Megan play with a new idea. D7K 8713

Rory practices fire starting with a torch sparker. D7K 8716

This finger knitted paracord is both stronger and more comfy than the webbing. It is also much harder to make and use. D7K 8719

Tinkering is a tricky think to define. Gever likes to consider it the time between when you think you are done, and when it really works well. Josh likes the notion that tinkering is the process of finding increasingly interesting ways to fail. By either definition, it was not until midday today that the tinkering really begins. What was once a world of infinite and dream like possibilities is now one quickly hardened by the realities of supply constraints, time constraints, and skill limitations. Ideas are becoming things and things can be put to the test. Things can be rolled on the wood floor to see if they hold up. Things can be put on asphalt and unprotected knees can get scraped. Turning systems and brakes can be tested against gravity, only for everyone to be very happy they had someone standing by, ready to grab their harness when nothing worked quite right.

The first two days where struggling with making things. Today is about struggling with our things not working.

Nooi starts their first flat ground test. D7K 8720

Nick discovers he can't get back up without help. D7K 8724

Megan is delighted by the results of their first test. P1110586

Ana prepares for the first ever asphalt test P1110590

Gretchen follows suit. P1110603

Right now, it's best if the Piki team straps Jonah in while is in on the ground. D7K 8736

D7K 8743

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/72323314 w=500&h=281]

Piki takes a test run from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

The man, the myth, the legend himself shows up for a surprise visit. Gever stops in to say hi and see how the week is progressing.

D7K 8791

Afterwards we settle in for movie night. After a day of finding increasingly interesting and refined ways to fail, we are all exhausted and excited for a little distraction. The enchanting power of movies is made clear as all the kids sit in complete silence (only broken to laugh) and Josh accomplishes exactly nothing on the evening blog post. All so we can watch the growing and complicated relationship between a man and a rat while learning a thing or two about the power of food, friendship, honesty and how we decide our identity. (Ratatouille, for the curious).

Tomorrow is beach day. We are all excited for beach day.

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