Tinkering School

come make amazing things with us

Day 1 - Explorations

2014 Session C - MiddlesJoshua RothhaasComment

Welcome to Tinkering School! Sunday is a day of getting to know one another, learning about our new surroundings, exploring, and trying new things. As kids arrive, both returning and first-time tinkerers get a chance to acquaint or re-acquaint themselves with their surroundings. As the parents leave, we gather around to introduce ourselves, sharing our "spirit tools" and a fun fact about ourselves with the group. This is the first chance we have to meet our fellow tinkerers and collaborators.


As per Tinkering School tradition, each tinkerer is bestowed with a knife at the beginning of the week. It's a symbol of entrusted responsibility, but also an important tool, and allows for the everyone to share in the joy of whittling breaks.

Josh reviews with the group the five rules of knife safety.


Thrilled with their new knives, the tinkerers take the first chance they get to try them out. Pointy sticks are all the rage - an excellent choice for a first whittling project.


Rory examines her handiwork.


Portrait of a Tinkerer: Aimee enjoys.

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The whittling mood passes, and excited to get started, we return to the barn for tool training. The energy of this group is impressive.

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Your Daily Goat.

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James proudly displays the results of his whittling work.

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Armed with safety gear — goggles and headphones — the group listens intently as Nova explains how to use the chop saw.

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Each tinkerer takes a turn. The chop saw is always a favorite, and gets much use during the week.

Audrey goes!

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And Jonah makes sure the blade is lined up.

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Though not used quite as often as the chop saw and the hand drills, the drill press has had many a purpose in plenty of projects. It is, for example, excellent at putting holes through our knives, as we later discover. Nova covers the basics.


And then, for the weekly wood-breaking. Nova discusses drill use, the important difference between a torque drill and an impact driver, and the best way to attach to boards to keeps as much strength as possible in the joint (not through the end grain).


Portrait of a Tinkerer: Gus looks on.

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In the lull before the storm of dinner, the tinkerers take the opportunity to discover more of what the ranch has to offer. Through the gates of Elkus flows a mystical and magical creek, which offers adventurous tinkerers a place to explore, play, climb, and splash.

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Look, a pull-up bar!


The hungry explorers return for dinner - outside, tonight.

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Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe. So much more than ordinary, boring, Tic-Tac-Toe. It offers a whole new world of possibilities. Daniel, our resident expert, explains the game.

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The afternoon flew by without a chance to take on any particular project, and so those who wanted to return to work in the barn after dinner were free to tackle any challenge that caught their fancy - anything from go-carts to friendship bracelet makers to games of Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe, the barn was filled with an abundance of energy and enthusiasm as the kids tackled new challenges and explored new ideas.

James, ready to take on free build.

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A Tic-Tac-Toe match-off.

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And another.

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Today was full of energy and excitement. We got to explore, play, learn. We whittled, had a chance to try out power tools, discovered the joys of playing in the creek, and spent creative energy enjoying an evening in the barn. This week of Tinkering School has begun!

Thanks to Daniel for the editing suggestions.

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