Tinkering School

come make amazing things with us

Session D: Day 2 - Foundations

2016 Session D - JuniorsSerena G-H1 Comment

The kids woke up with the sun this morning. Breakfast is at 8:00, and by 6:15, practically all of our tinkerers were awake. 

We start the morning with "Nan" in the dining hall - it's a game played with two people, two pool noodles, and two plastic plates. The aim is to knock your opponent's plate from their hand with the pool noodle. 

Then we gather the group and set off for an early morning hike. 

We pause at the playground to take advantage of the tire swings. Liv waits for her turn. 

Benjamin has discovered a hide-away; there's a plant covered tepee in the garden. 

Then we head up the hill to a clearing where we can see the valley. Well, could have seen the valley, were it not mostly covered in fog this morning. 

Deja-vu - the kids can't resist stopping back at the playground on the way down. 

Happy and hungry, we head back to the Conference Center for breakfast. 

And then it's time for breakfast - we have pancakes as well as scrambled eggs, toast, and cereal. 

Then we gather into groups to hear about our morning projects. 

The goal? Build the tallest structure you can which holds a tennis ball at the very top for at least ten seconds all without using clamps or power tools. The team that gets the ball the highest wins bragging rights.

Junior Collaborator Lauren consults with her teammates. They're up for the challenge. 

Collaborator Nik and his team explore the shop for tools and parts to use for their project. 

Watermelon (Mila) and Reed start to think about how to effectively stack wood. 

blat - 38.jpg

Rob works to fasten together the tripod using paracord to secure the joint. 

Giant Jenga emerges as Avigael, Sadie, Jaya, and Benjamin decide to build a platform to stand on to help get their pole higher in the air. 

Jaya and Sadie work together to fasten the pulley system they've developed to the top of the poll. Teamwork is definitely an emphasis of the morning project today. 

Collaborator Nik guides Jaesean (who's going by J-Wolf this week) on how to use the Japanese pull saw to make notches in a 1x4. Power tools aren't allowed, so we have to cut wood the hard way. His group - J-Wolf, Gandalf (Ethan), and Adam plan to use the notches to couple multiple boards together with paracord. 

Portrait of a Tinkerer: Weston caught in conversation. 

Delia, under the guidance of Junior Collaborator Lauren, ties supports to the really tall board they're using as a tower. 

Reed tests out his tests the hoisting system his team has installed on a tall metal pole that they found. 

Weston asked us to send this photo to his parents. We agreed to post it too the blog. 

Juan (Max) helps his team out by taping together the boards at the base of his team's tower.

The structures in the parking lot are starting to look pretty impressive and tall. 

Wolf (Apollo) and Sylvia learn lashing from Junior Collaborator Lauren, who's a many time Tinkering School alum and a lashing expert. 

Structures are popping up left and right as teams rush to run last minute trials before the big event. 

Similar ideas have emerged across the teams: we see similar platform building techniques emerge, every team holds their tennis ball in a screw bucket, and multiple teams have rigged up pulley systems with which to raise the ball. Still, each tower is unique, with it's own quirks and advantages.

Then it's time for the official runs. 

The first team to go went before we managed to capture them on camera. Here they are, setting up. They measure in at 164 inches. 

Nik and his team have what is perhaps the simplest solution - just a single, continuous post, made of 3 pieces of 1x4 coupled with paracord. Once loaded, they put the tennis ball 198 inches in the air. 

High-fives all around. 

The third team to go has a stationary bucket. Rhody needs a ladder to get the ball into their cup. It holds! 

They all crouch to look at the official measurement... and it comes in at 137 inches!

Jaya and Sadie hold while Avigael gently hoists the basket for the fourth team skyward. They come in at 157 inches. 

Amelia and Odessa work together to hold the pole as high as they can over their heads - it pays off, and they tie for second at 164 inches. 

We break for snack and talk about our accomplishments - even the shortest tower was twice as  tall as the tallest tinkerer we've got this week, and the tallest was more than 3 times that tall.

One of the goals at Tinkering School is "build something bigger than ourselves" - today, we accomplished that. 

Juan enjoys his hard-earned banana. 

Then we disassemble our projects... 

Then gather for the big project reveal: this week, we'll be building a train, to ride on the 300+ feet of track the previous weeks had put together. We'll split into five teams, and each team will design and create their own train car. Questions? 

Rob's ready to get started. 

A group heads down for a visit to the creek before lunch. It's nice to wade in cool water. 

After lunch, we assign the project teams. For the first time in Tinkering School history, we need a fifth team, and thus we needed to add another team name to the traditional Piki, Nooi, Kablooi and Panda. After much discussion, we've decided on "Sqiki."

This week, teams will be as follows: 

On Piki, with Dee, we have Avigael, Fox, Juan, and Wolf.                                                              On Nooi, with Nik,  we have Liv, Adam, Delia and J-Wolf.                                                               On Sqiki with our Junior Collaborators (Lauren, Zach, and Elizabeth), we have Jaya, Sadie, Benjamin and Reed.                                                                                                                           On Kablooi, with Serena, we have Rob, Gandalf, Watermelon and Sylvia.                                       And finally, on Panda with Rhody, we have Amelia, Axel and Potter (Weston). 

We split into groups and begin to talk about design.

Serena and Team Kablooi are tackling an engine car, so they brainstorm not only how the cart will look, but also how we'll get it to move the whole train. There will be one "engine" at either end of our 5-car train, which will let us go both directions along our track without turning the train around. 

blat - 131.jpg

Collaborator Daniel helps Team Panda get started - Amelia sketches an idea. 

The room is ripe with ideas and eager tinkerers seeking to express them. For those moments, there's nothing quite like large brown paper to sketch on.  

Team Sqiki works to translate their ideas to paper. 

After the initial brainstorm, some teams are ready to jump right into build. Dee helps Benjamin use the chop saw. 

Some teams start prototyping first. Nik and Team Nooi are tackling the other engine car. They're thinking about a design where they use a rope and cleat system to essentially row the engine and the cars behind it along the track. Adam tests how much friction he can get between the wood and the rope. 

blat - 139.jpg

Amelia's found a friendly green beetle. 

Team Kablooi's cart base, layed out and ready to be screwed together. 

Sylvia and Rob tackle putting it together. The day's gotten nicer throughout the afternoon, and we're finally getting to see blue skies. 

Portrait of a Tinkerer: Liv's a Tinkering School Day Camp alum, who's excited for her first experience here at overnight camp. 

Portrait of a Junior Collaborator: What's caught Lauren's eye? 

Gever's been working hard throughout the weekend and all this afternoon to put together train wheels for the kids to use this week. Each wheel has been individually cut to round on the table saw. If you look closely, they're slanted - the radius goes from smaller to larger. When assembled into train bases, these wheels will ensure the cart stays on the track. 

Their proud maker, our very own Gever Tulley. He's put a lot of work into planning the wheels, making the jig for the table saw, and then churning them out for us. He stayed until 10:15pm tonight to manufacture all of the parts for assembly. 

Then it's time for clean-up and dinner. Nooi puts away their prototyping supplies. 

After dinner, a handful of kids write letters home. 

Like wheels for a train car, the activities we pursued today all worked towards establishing a strong foundation for our tinkerers this week to build on. The morning project taught on the fly design, helped kids get familiar with the tools and parts at their disposal, and began to develop teamwork skills. The project announcement and brainstorming we did today helps set the stage for the rest of the week. So tomorrow, we build. 

Tinkering School is a trademark registered in the US Patent and Trademark Office.