Tinkering School

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Day 2 - It begins

2014 Session B - SeniorsJoshua RothhaasComment

The Tinkering School day begins at a rough hour for the teenagers - up at 7:00, breakfast at 7:40. The usual set of bagels, cereal and the like are available. With some food in our bellies and a few swigs of orange juice behind us everyone is perking right up and a rousing debate about the nature of humor and its qualities ensues. Josh defends that sarcasm is the lowest form of humor, while Naomi takes the bold stance that the only measure of humor is how much it makes you laugh. The trickiest jokes to categorize the the infamous "dad joke" - the kind of jokes dads tell. They aren't funny, but they always get a reaction, sometimes even laughs. D7K 4639

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Your Daily Goat comes early today.

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First things first, we need to pick teams. Tradition dictates that we name the teams the Piki and the Nooi.

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Team Piki : Grace, Hannah, Rachael, Reid, Mac, Mike

Team Nooi : Naomi, Althea, Miranda, Nicki, Bay, Eric, Kieren

Nooi breaks into sub-teams in an attempt to get some parallel problem solving going.

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The morning is a flurry of thinking and doing. While some get right to cutting and drilling and prettying, others reach for pens, paper and others to brainstorm with.

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One of our favorite tools is the chop saw (officially a miter saw). Seen here being used heavily just moments before we lost it to a strange misalignment of an otherwise useless piece.

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Eventually Junior Collaborator Serena gets the ball rolling with Team Piki, reminding us that we could learn more from making full scale drafts than we might from a series of tiny prototypes. Immediately the benefits of thinking and feeling spatially are realized as the design of the cars strays from a perfect box to more interesting shapes that better fit our needs.

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A portrait of an inside joke between friends, i.e. I have no idea what's going on here.

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Mac contemplates what will become his obsession for the day; linkages. How our cars connect to become a true train will be one of the key factors in the success or failure of this project.

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Team Nooi puts nearly all their brains on a particularly tricky problem.

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Portrait of a bear hug.

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The barn is a hotbed of commotion all morning. The tinkerers take up the camera, teams are starting to discover important hurdles and design flaws.

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Hannah and Reid (and Mike, not shown) are tackling a particularly finicky problem of making a steering train engine that uses a complex series of hinges to emulate a rack and pinion style of steering similar to a car.

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Camera shoot off! Click! Click!

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Your not quite Daily Sheep

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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Reid takes a moment to consider the problems ahead.

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One of Nooi's train cars begins to takes form. Note the caster used as a pivoting joint.

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As mentioned earlier, the chop saw broke this morning. A minor piece had fallen out of alignment. It took a while to figure out what was wrong, why it was wrong, how important and deadly such an mechanical issue might be, and how to fix it. Luckily it was simple, because of years of use, not important nor deadly, and easy but time consuming to fix. The silver lining of the event was a chance to brush up on our handsaw use.

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Rhody takes on an a simple sub-project as part of a larger more ambitious project being pursued by the Junior Collaborators. Sub-project; make a shoe rack and paint it purple. Larger project; convince both campers and staff to take shoes off in the bunk-rooms. Godspeed.

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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Hannah brandishes a drill.

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Grace and Mac take a second to test out the frame for one of Piki's following cars. Will it hold Mac's weight?

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We head in for lunch - sandwiches and quesadillas, made on our new grill. IMG 4127

Visiting the animals is part of Tinkering School at Elkus ranch. Miranda, Grace, and Rachel take a goat break.

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All the animals are cute, but some are overwhelmingly so.

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And what could be so cute? Are you ready? You're not. Check it out.

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Eric follows in the footsteps of hundreds of tinkerers in pursuit of a perfect pointy stick; Tinkering School's most popular project.

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The intrepid team of Sol and Serena hunt down the problem on the chop saw. It was a small metal plate that protects the rear motor. It has slipped out of place.

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Sawing through solid steel with a hand tool is one of the many great joys of any tinkering school project involving wheels.

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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Miranda makes faces for the camera.

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It's often hard to describe and capture how many projects are going on simultaneously in the barn. Here we have Piki in the foreground, Rhody learning some new knots, Nooi in the mid ground, a team on the chop saw in the background, and obfuscated from view a team on the drill press.

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Sol is working on a one person caboose/chariot for the end of Piki's train.

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The afternoon is filled with progress, stumbles, resets and lessons being learned.

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Team Nooi's cars are coming into shape. They are pursuing a semi-standardized approach to all the cars that aren't in the front.

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Mike puts a huge amount of energy into making sure the Piki's steering is precise.

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The hard focus of the morning pays off and just 2/3rds through the first day team Nooi is testing one of their cars.

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Immediately, repairs are needed.

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Day 1 wraps up with some pasta, meatballs and some salad and a conversation about the definition of a cookie. Seriously, try it. Write a definition for cookies that doesn't leave out any type of cookie and doesn't include any non-cookie treats. It's nearly impossible. Voices raised, passions flared and nothing was settled.

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Luckily, Junior Collaborator Rhody placated the nearly riotous group with a batch of chocolate chip cookies, home made and fresh from the oven. The definition of a cookie is apparently secondary to the joys of actually eating one.

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As if cookies weren't enough, we slipped in a little knife throwing, BMX biking and some Card Wars (not pictured).

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Today, tinkerers flew. Not just the literal air off the bike jump, but figuratively too. All of us dove in, used the tools and our disposal, and built, learned, and tried new things. The project has now truly begun.

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