Tinkering School

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Day 4 - Beach Madness

2014 Session C - MiddlesJoshua RothhaasComment

A day at the beach. A chance to stop, refresh. Clear our minds, focus on new problems. Today, no-one will step foot in the barn. Wednesday Beach Day has long been a tradition at Tinkering School. Right as we hit the middle of the week, the climax of our projects, we stop.

This week, stopping is a particular challenge - Nooi left their cart snapped in two, fixes in mind. Kablooi was inches away from their first test run. Panda is itching to get back to the barn to work out solutions for their challenge, and Piki is ready to modify and improve. But for just a day, we ask the kids to not focus on the problems facing them tomorrow. And with that in mind, we pile into cars and head off, ready to play in the waves.

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Beach day offers a break from the thought through, goal oriented building, the aim of building ATVs. Instead, we letting our minds float freely, try out different ideas. A chance to create in a different way.

The girls adopt one of the driftwood forts on the beach, and make it their own.

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The boys add a whole new wing and door to another structure.

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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Ari.

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Creating something, and observing it closely is a skill that often escapes us.

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Oftentimes, by the end of Tuesday, frustration with the challenges faced in the project runs high. And so part of our goal is a mental break.

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Beach day is about discovery. The group discovering, changing, connecting, exploring. Trying new things, pushing boundaries. Yesterday gave us a chance to truly pull together, today those bonds are tested.

We discovered, for example, a lone sea-lion. All, curious, rushed to see.

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Tinkering School forms strong bonds - perhaps because the experience is so unique. What better to represent this than 900 pound test friendship bracelets, made lovingly out of old parasail lines?

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Sometimes, beach day is just about focus, taking a zen moment.

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Sometimes, beach day is about stretching our minds in new directions. Pushing limits, tinkering with the understanding of what we can do.

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Sometimes, beach day is about fun, about taking new chances, about running, freely, engaging with friends, and perhaps hurling a sand ball.

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Beach day gives us new insights, a new perspective, a new lookout, approach to looking at things. And it gives us the energy we need to approach our problems with fresh eyes when we return to the barn tomorrow.

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Achieving something, success in our endeavors. Sometimes, in the midst of a challenging project, what we most need is the confidence that we can, indeed, suceed.

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Hands of a Tinkerer: Kevin discovers the properties of charcoal.

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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Karsen, our resident Paleontologist.

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And we unlock new types of creativity, new types of artistry. A different type of freedom, but freedom nonetheless.

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Working in tandem, learning from each other. But there are no assigned teams, no divisions, just the will to challenge one another into trying new things. (Ana teaches Nova to do hand-stands)

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Freedom.

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We learn patience and determination through the choice of our own projects. Beach day gives us a way to try out new skills we've learned, and learn more along the way.

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Together, we can achieve anything - there is no replacement for friendship.

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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Jonah Jr. plays his knife as a harmonica. (Knives + sand don't work out well)

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The challenge of synchronization, of being in sync with the group, of working individually to meet a common goal.

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Taking a chance to wander, talk, take a break.

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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Anya, thinking.

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Beach day gives us time for self reflection. As a collaborator commented: "It's amazing, watching these kids grow." Even in just a few days of Tinkering School, we've each changed. Perhaps in little ways, perhaps in big ones. Life would be totally different if we made slightly different choices.

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We race forwards.

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We urge each other onwards, support and encourage one-another.

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We come home thinking anything is possible, that we can fly. And with that attitude, we really, absolutely can.

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Portrait of a Collaborator: Nova

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We find joy in the littlest of things, a sense of accomplishment in reaching even the smallest goals.

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We get a chance to rest, to ponders, to breathe, to be fully immersed in the moment.

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A chance to trust in one another in a new setting, outside of the barn, a chance to build confidence in one another. This trust between teammates allow them to work together more easily, to hear out each-others ideas, trust in the others suggestions.

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A chance to sleep.

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A chance to climb.

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And instead of free build, beach day ends the way it started - the whole group together, watching a movie (Wall-E, preceded by Abbott & Costello's "Who's on First").

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Ana and Jonah Sr., who named the blog tonight, asked me to call it Beach Madness. And perhaps, thats the best way of putting it. The beach is a place to be crazy, to try new and crazy things, to challenge ourselves. And somehow, we all come back renewed.

Thanks to Nova, again, for selecting the pictures and editing.

For more photos, check out our flickr feed!

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