Tinkering School

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Session E: Day 6 - A Cityscape Tranformed

Serena G-HComment

We tried something new this week - "Things that Turn" is the most vague project provocation we've ever given to the kids at overnight camp. Lindsay and Amanda have been up here visiting from day-camp, where project prompts are more often nebulous, and we figured we had the man-power and expertise to try. 

Still, at the beginning, we had our concerns - everything from "how to we do a brainstorm this large" to fears about engagement, project scale, and whether we'd be able to complete them. 

Today's the final push. There's a lot of work to be done - at breakfast, Nik's putting odds of the windmill being finished before Saturday at 30%. The merry-go-round needs a railing, and the spinning platform needs to be finished and mounted. The turntable has yet to have even iteration one tested, and the deck still hasn't even been attached to the platform. The Midway improvement team has something that's starting to look a lot like stairs, but they have to finish those and build their arcade. It's a lot to pull off, but this group is eager and determined. 

But first, the second lesson in Gever's structural 101 series: Triangles and Levers. With just a pinky, he explains, he can take advantage of the leverage this board provides, and move Robert's whole body. 

And it's not just Gever's incredibly strong pinky. Ally can do it too. 

A quadrilateral, Gever explains, is not a very strong shape. The end of each board acts as a lever arm, and he can use them to pull the piece apart. 

Add just one diagonal, though, and form a triangle, and the whole piece becomes strong enough to hold a (small) car. Now, the piece is held together by tension and compression in the wood, as opposed to a couple of screws. 

Then it's back to work: Beckett and David get working on attaching the railing for Team Piki's carousel.  

The Midway Station crew is on a mission - Day 6 is for plywood. They've got to put the tops on each of the stairs they've built so far. 

It's starting to weigh on us that it's our final day together. Little memorabilia start to emerge. 

And the sentimental selfies start. Charlotte and Trinity have worked together on the merry-go-round all week. 

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Even the free build projects have fallen into line with the theme this week. Cart wheels turn! 

Team Panda is ready to test the turntable for the first time. Together, they lift it onto the platform. 

Aimee tests the new track system, only to discover that it bottoms out at the top of the hill. Ewon runs to grab a shovel and fix it. 

Portrait of a Portable Speaker: The kids who have been working down at Tinker City now consider it a full member of their team. 

A spiral staircase has emerged - it's elegant and functional. 

Portrait of a Tinkerer: Lee

The first test of the turntable also revealed some twisting in the track. Mia and Aimee move  the wheel base outwards to better stabilize the load. 

Throughout the week, the tinkerers have become more comfortable with the tools. Mac watches and helps as Ewon uses the drill press. 

After lunch, it's time for a break - a group heads to the creek and catches crawdads. 

Ewon enjoys just wading in the water and exploring. 

We head back out, and by 1:45 pm, tools are whirring. Collaborator Amanda lends a hand in driving screws for the diagonals on the merry-go-round railing. 

Beckett, against a backdrop of sky blue.  

Team Sqiki is ready to move their tower. They gather hands, then carefully lift it from the transport car they used to get it down to Tinker City. 

Katherine, Shoshi, and Miles search for level ground. There isn't any out here, but they are hoping for something as close to flat as possible. 

They pick a spot, grab a rope, and haul it. 

Nik and Elijah have been making steady progress on the windmill mount at the top of the sky deck. So far, so good. 

Zach examines the pivot system as he, Bob, and Ewon discuss potential improvements. 

Clamps are a beautiful tool, and help create beautiful joints. It's basically magic. 

Freddie's assisting the sky deck team with anything and everything they need. 

Team Sqiki lifts the top half of their lazy-susan, with the swings all mounted, onto the tower. 

Portrait of a Collaborator: Nik's cover shot. 

It's fun to ride along the rail system. Bob rapidly takes to this mode of transit as a default for traveling between Tinker City and Terminus. 

"Things that Turn" wouldn't be complete without a giant, yellow, spinning smily face. Lee and Lindsay painted it over the lunch break. 

Katherine's getting good at the trucker's hitch, which her team is using to hang the swings and adjust them to the right height. 

And then it's time to test! Per tradition, it's the lightest tinkerers first. 

It works!

With Elijah and Nik on board, the 2x3's at the top start to bend. They pause, and sister a pair of 2x4's up there to add strength. 

We're an hour our from dinner, and all the piece are starting to fall into place. The carousel team lifts their spinning platform onto the deck they've made. 

It fits smoothly, to their delight. 

The windmill team is racing the clock, hoping to get the blades installed before we have to pause for dinner. Thomas and Shoshi lend a hand to Johnny, who's been working out the procedure for installation and cutting the canvas since lunch. 

Nik and Elijah are getting ever closer - they install the pipe that the blade will pivot on.

Two drills are better than one - the carousel team races to install their "horse."  

Portrait of Two Tinkerers: Lee and Thomas, camp buddies. 

Portrait of a Tinkerer's Hands: Shoshi cuts the ends off the zip-ties on the windmill blades while Johnny holds. 

And then together, Mac and Freddie drill bolt holes through the pipe to socket each pole into place. 

It's 6:35 pm, past our regular dinner time, and the tinkerers show no sign off stopping. 

Yay!  We have a carousel! Team Piki is rightly proud. 

Then it really IS time for dinner. We load up the tool cart and head back to Terminus for reset. 

The windmill crew is now ready to mount the blades on the tower, so after dinner a group of us treks back out to Tinker City to make it happen. 

Together, we maneuver it to the base of the tower, and then lift it carefully... 

Passing it up to Elijah, Nik and Gever on the top platform. 

Where they work to mount it onto the shaft. Elijah and Nik had spent all day making sure the upper super-structure was strong and safe enough to support a person, and as a result, had forgotten to test the shaft in the hole. The shaft fits, but the hole for the pin isn't in the right place - they've got it up their, with no way to secure it. After 30+ minutes of noodling with it, they decide to pin it with a screw and tie the blades up for the night.

Then it's up to campfire, our Friday tradition. Lindsay and Amanda ride on the back of the Begreenoth (Gever's truck) for the first time. It's tradition for the kids to ride alongside the running boards of the truck, with collaborators hanging off the back. 

Then we all gather together around our campfire, and take a moment to appreciate the fire and each other. 

We work our way around the circle and share our appreciation for each other. 

Fire night started late - a combination of working late, eating dinner late, and trying to fix the windmill. Zara naps by the firelight. 

It's nice to sit close to a warm fire and enjoy each others company. 

There's just enough time for a few s'mores, and then we say goodnight. Today was a big push, but we did it. We had the right combination of kids and collaborators to pull it all off. We started from grand idea, and together we made it happen. We built big, we built small. We designed, and we solved technical issues as they arose. Tinker City is now a place to be. 

We built bigger than ourselves - not just on the projects - we built a team. It feels good. 


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