Tinkering School

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Day 1 - Intros, Tools, The Project

2014 Session B - SeniorsJoshua RothhaasComment

Tinkerers beginning to arrive are greeted by this friendly sign in the barn - they've come from near (all over the bay area) and far - (our furthest this week is Mike from Mexico). Drop off is an exciting time- parents milling about, tinkerers exploring their new homes for the week, and building anticipation for the coming week.

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As the parents leave, we gather in a giant circle - and take a second to get to know each other. We introduce ourselves, and share our "spirit tool" with the group - the tool we most associate with.

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Two of our collaborators: Daniel and Nova are excited for the week to come.

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After introductions, we take time to make Tinkering School T-Shirts, using spray on paint that sets in the sunlight.

And then, we head for the barn - eager to get started. As Tinkering School tradition dictates, each tinkerer is bestowed with a knife. So we gather in a group, and go over the rules of knife safety: cut away from yourself, be aware of your blood bubble, make sure you have three points of contact with solid objects, use a sharp blade, and lock your blade when you're using it.

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And then we play with the big blades - after a discussion of chopsaw safety and rules, everyone takes a spin (pun intended). Rachel slices off a chunk of 2x3.

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Reid listens intently to Josh's presentation on the right way to attach 2x3's to each other.

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Mac screws boards together to help illustrate Josh's point.

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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Bay considers.

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After a break for dinner, we head back up to the barn to hear what this week's project is. We gather into groups to discuss each component.

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This week, we will split into two large teams, and build two trackless, downhill trains. Each train must consist of three cars (including the steering car), carry all eight tinkerers on the team, have sophisticated steering, be able to stop as it rolls down the hill.

Although we haven't broken up into the final teams of eight yet, we split into brainstorming groups to think through some of the potential problems: linkages, brakes, steering, and cart design.

The steering team talks through an idea.

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The linkage team ponders.

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The cart design team gathers.

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And, the brakes team draws.

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The barn gets busy as teams work out prototypes for some of our first ideas. Grace and Naomi cut wood for a brake prototype. Hannah (missing from the picture) helps them out by going to grab more scrap.

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Night falls, and we head back - our band of tinkerers has begun to come together. They banter as we return, take up cards and play spoons, drink hot chocolate, and head to bed, looking forward to tomorrow, when the fun begins in earnest. We've had a chance to dabble in tinkering tonight - tomorrow, we dive in.

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Thanks to my blog companions tonight: Grace, Hannah, Rachel, Reid, and Josh.

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