Tinkering School

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Day 3 - A Train takes Shape

2014 Session B - SeniorsJoshua RothhaasComment

Most blogs start with the morning, and fail to catch a glimpse of the mysterious and mostly undocumented portion between the publishing of the blog and the bedtime rituals, especially when the blog gets published early. And so, an exclusive glimpse into the dining room at tinkering school after lights out yesterday evening:

Excited after our first full day of building, a group of die-hard tinkers, running on the energy tinkering school (and cups of hot chocolate) infused in them, stay up into the night. We talk, and draw to keep our hands busy - on goldfish boxes, paper, and in Althea's case, our pants.

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The morning begins more slowly today - the tinkerers trickle into breakfast just a hair off the normal pace. We start off the day with knot-tying lessons from Josh in the barn - which offers a nice break from thinking about our project, and a chance to gather as a large group.

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Josh shows Grace the bowline.

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Junior Collaborator Serena cuts lengths of rope with a hot knife - to ensure each tinkerer is well-equipped to learn the essentials. And to get a chance to play with the propane torch.

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Mike takes a minute to help Miranda out.

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And then it's off to work! Team Nooi pick up where they left off with the following cart - Eric, Bay and Kieran attach the bearing.

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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Naomi, fascinated by this morning's lesson, grabs the knot book and continues to work out how to tie new knots.

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Your (perhaps?) Daily Sheep.

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The proper way to inscribe your name on a project you've poured your time into, Mike tells me.

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Mac takes a moment to examine a wheel.

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How many tinkerers do you need to use a drill press? Bay, Eric and Kieran all get in on the action.

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As the morning glow floods into the barn, Team Piki heads outside to test one of their following carts for the first time.

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Superman! Sol gets a ride up the hill.

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We stop to tinker with the cart - Mac checks the connection he's been responsible for making.

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After testing, it's back to the barn to work - shoring up the back beam, attaching more braces for the wheels, and adding wheels to the second following cart.

Meanwhile, in the barn, Reid works on Piki's engine car - even though the hinge system for complex steering is in place, their are still steering details to be worked out.

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Nooi, not wanting to miss out on the action, take their cart out too. Yes, it will hold two people!

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Lucy, one of the ranch dogs, comes out to watch.

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This earns her the adoration of the tinkerers. Petting ensues.

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Rachel has rapidly become a pro with the drill press. As in all of the tinkering school projects involving wheels, the ability to produce wheel boxes must be rapidly acquired.

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The barn floor is strewn with busy tinkerers, working away.

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Even though the chop saw has worked all day today, Mike takes the extra second to use the handsaw - just because.

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Miranda and Althea talk over Nooi's steering plans with Josh.

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The Piki's engine car is destined for large wagon wheels in the back. Junior Collaborator Serena and Reid take a moment to figure out where, exactly, they should be placed.

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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Kieran concentrates as he screws in an eyebolt.

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Portrait of a Junior Collaborator: Rhody at work.

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Sol takes a moment to appreciate the precision steering while the Piki engine car is held upright.

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Josh and Mike (who's visiting) share a laugh.

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A Nooi cart - upright and majestic.

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Teamwork! Bay and Eric take a look at where they're planning to screw into.

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Althea gets in there to attach the screw at an angle.

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The Piki engine cart is coming together quickly enough for the confident engine team (Reid, Hannah and Mike) to pause and share a joke with the rest of the Piki.

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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Mac, ever busy.

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Piki's steering team pulls Josh in to discuss their ambitious goals - simulate rack and pinion steering with paracord, a caster bearing, and some 2x3.

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The weather outside is wonderful, and because of the immense amount of action inside the barn, we haven't had the chance to enjoy it. So we set up lunch outside, and tell the scenario type riddles that start with a vague statement: "A man is dead in the middle of a desert surrounded by bicycles" and where those trying to answer the riddle must first ask yes/no questions to learn more information. Laughter fills the air.

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Portrait of a Collaborator: Nova as she cleans up lunch.

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After a visit to the goats, we head back to the barn, . Rachel and Grace (not shown) grab the paint and set to work painting the Piki caboose/trailer.

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In the back of the barn, the Nooi get right back to work.

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Your Daily Goat(s).

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Piki hasn't spent a lot of time working out the detail of how the carts connect. So we stop, think, and then tinker - try things out to see what works.

Sol builds a hitch for the back of one of the carts.

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Mac and Serena try to work out the ideal distance between each cart - not too close, not too far.

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Josh acts as ballast while Kieran cuts threaded rod for axles.

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Nooi takes their steering cart out- a left/right lever controls the wheels. Everyone gathers to watch it work.

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And work it does!

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And then Piki just has to try. With a complex series of eyebolts and pulleys, they've managed to successfully mimic rack and pinion steering. Reid takes a ride.

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Success is celebrated with high-fives and a goat break.

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But then it's back to work, to fix and shore up steering and to work on the braking system. Mac has immense amounts of focus.

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Reid and Mike make changes.

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Splatter paint! Grace and Rachel's work waits to dry.

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All into the afternoon, work continues. A tinkerers day is bustle.

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Portrait of a Collaborator: Daniel explains.

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Nooi hooks two carts together. It's starting to look like a train!

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Piki plays with their engine car.

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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Rachel, our budding photographer.

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Camera shootout! Kieran's at the other end. Eric plays peek-a-boo.

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Portrait of a Tinkerer's Room: The Girls.

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After dinner, we spread out to enjoy the evening.

Up at the house, we play "contact" (a word game) and cards.

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Down in the garden, the tire swings are a hit. Miranda grins with the sheer joy that comes from riding through the air on top of a tire.

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Today, our train has taken shape. Carts have come together; attachment points are working; steering is up and running. Even with a bit more work on brakes, and with expectations of troubleshooting to come, we are proud of our efforts.

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