Tinkering School

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Day Five - Very Nearly Functional

2013 session 4 - JuniorsJoshua RothhaasComment

The morning hits like a ton of bricks. Beach Day is nearly as exhausting as it is rejuvenating. The day of play is balanced by the aggressive power of the sun. Either way, there is proper tinkering to be done as we find ourselves stuck on the precipice. "We are basicly done" becomes an anthem of both pride and frustration. On one side, its obvious we are so close. Only a few more adjustments and it will work. On the other side, we are desperate, losing patience, and "We are basically done" is a threat from the edge of engagement. How many more times can we head back to the barn to change one more thing?

Many more times.

Joey starts out assessing some potential problems. D7K 9294

Yoel starts what would become an incredibly productive and focused day. D7K 9295

Jonah and team Piki have a rough start and realize their break isn't living up to expectations. D7K 9310

Joey uses a propane torch to prepare a hot knife for cutting the synthetic fibers of the webbing. D7K 9318

Megan has a go at the hot knife. D7K 9330

Team Nooi put on their problem solving faces and make tremendous progress. D7K 9339

After a scrapped knee from playing tag (far an away our most dangerous activity), Gretchen and Christie walk in the garden. D7K 9348

Joey straps in for flat land testing. P1110608

The scenery is stunning. D7K 9351

Sometimes Tinkering School is about pursuing amazing and hard problems. Sometimes it just about using tools and supplies you've never used before. "Can I use a hand saw to cut some wood?" Yoel asks. The answer is "Of course" of course.

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Oren is visiting from Austin Tinkering School and helping us out. P1110612

Bryn does some hand saw cutting. D7K 9360

Rory straps in for some asphalt testing. D7K 9362

Yoel and Gretchen sort through our scrap in preparation for the biggest fire Tinkering School has ever seen. D7K 9371

Bryn, fully equipped in standing position. D7K 9382

Bryn ready to roll. D7K 9391

Bryn rolls. The camp first successful, in control, with breaks test run! [vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/72470111 w=500&h=281]

Panda Team, Successful Test from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

Amedeo makes some cuts on the chop saw. D7K 9400

Megan on the jig saw. D7K 9404

Gretchen in her painting studio. D7K 9409

Piki gears up. D7K 9412

Yoel strikes a pose. P1110616

Team Panda is full of excitement as a major test gets underway. D7K 9464

Yoel takes our second fully controlled test run. [vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/72470112 w=500&h=281]

Panda Team, Successful Test 2 from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

And our third. [vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/72470113 w=500&h=281]

Panda Team, Successful Test 3 from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

And our longest, fastest run yet. [vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/72470114 w=500&h=281]

Panda Team, Successful Test 4 from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

In the end, team Panda is the first to cross a developmental threshold. No longer are they pondering what else they may need to do to make they cart work. Their body suit works, and they are simply making it work better and or repairing it after the abuse of testing. Fixing things to make something work again is much more fun than fixing them to make them work for the first time. The energy is spectacular. In their third run their wheel nearly fell off and their breaking system began to shred. They have many tweaks ahead, but the dream is in sight.

Thursday night is camp fire night. With a summers worth of scrap wood, we prepared to start the tallest fire we felt we could handle. It was a great opportunity to practice doing dangerous things well. We took a risk assessment. Where are the major concerns? How will the fire spread in each worst case scenario? How much water should we have on hand?

The kids come up with and answer all of these questions, and the staff takes precessions just a little further. A whole wheel burrow of water on hand. Several buckets. Metal shovels, and a big fall radius and we are set to start a proper bon fire.

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On more talk on how dangerous fire is. Unlike the drill press of the chop saw, there is no off button. There is no trigger to let go off. Unlike the chop saw or the drill press which can only hurt us, if we mess up we burn down Elkus. The kids take note. P1110632

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We make out own torches. Another dangerous thing to do well. Another risk assessment. P1110667


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We throw saw dust in the fire. Another risk assessment. P1110700





We smother the fire, play in the smoke and steam, and then head to bed.


Tomorrow we push through our limits and either meet great success, or spectacular failure.

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