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Session F: Day 1 - Learning and Lava

2016 Session F - SeniorsSerena G-HComment

Written by Serena & Gever, with Jack for support. 

It's a new week at Tinkering School - Session F, our sixth week this summer. It's a "Biggles" week, our affectionate name for our seniors, with the same double consonant ring to it that "Littles" and "Middles"  has. 

Campers arrive, explore their new surroundings, settle in their yurts, meet each other. Then we gather together for an opening circle. We use circle to get a sense for each other - names, where we're from, and our "Spirit Tool," the tool we each feel we most closely identify with. 

Then it's off to tool training. Rory concentrates as she works on clamping this board to the table. 

We've been trying five tool rotations, instead of our usual three. We're experimenting with adding a "drill practice" station, as well as a "tour," which seeks to orient the tinkerers in their new surroundings and tell the story of Tinker City so far. This summer, we've left up the work of each previous week, and allowed the projects to build on each other. We have 300 + feet of railway track, a tower and windmill, a carousel and amusement park style spinning swings.

Equally important as the being able to find the bathrooms and the project area is the path down to the creek, where Daniel takes this group of tinkerers. 

Over at clamps, Joe and Austin work together to add legs to there structure. The challenge is to build out from the table ledge as far as possible. 

Over at chop saw training, Collaborator Jay supervises as Pascal practice on the chop saw.  

Then the groups rotate to a new station. Collaborator Serena goes over the basics with her new group. 

There's something enthralling about the chop saw. 

Collaborator Annie guides a group through drill practice. 

Then it's back to the Conference Center, where we watch "Ten Bullets"  - a video put together by Tom Sachs' studio about how to work effectively. We're trying to adopt parts of it at Tinkering School this summer, and we think it's a worthwhile thing to share with the group and discuss. 

Then we try another experiment - up until this week, we've been serving food buffet style for the past five weeks, but at our staff meeting Saturday we realized it made it hard to all sit and eat at the same time. Instead, we tried family style, serving at the table and sitting to eat together. It seemed to work out, so we'll keep trying it. 

After dinner, it's time for our Sunday evening mini-project. Today, there's a 20' wide river of lava flowing through the parking lot, and the tinkerers must get themselves and all of their group-mates across while staying 6" above the ground, out of reach of the lava-monster. They break into groups to discuss. 

Pascal, Liora, and Stephanie work out a plan and get to it. They're hoping to build a pair of stilts on which to walk across the lava. 

Jake, Yoel, Sage and Miles are devising a sort of "ski-like" system. 

Portrait of a Tinkerer: Miles 

Sol tries out the stilts his team has built. 

Michael, Ana, Mar, and Joe are working out how to place a bridge over the trench when they only have access from one side. 

As time starts to narrow and we reach the half-way point, we see teams switching strategies. This group has decided to ditch the stilts (which are hard to walk on reliably) for a bridge. 

They deploy it across the lava for a trial run.

And test it. 

Mar works to attach braces to the bottom of her team's bridge. 

Pascal braves the lava-monster, carefully negotiating his team's bridge. 

With a limit on the screws each team can use, they look for new methods of attaching wood. Demoed here: masking tape. 

Lashing with paracord is also a good option. 

Time is called, and we start our test runs. First up, Group #1  - Sol helps stabilize Megan as she sets off across the lava river. They successfully get two tinkerers across, before the third trips and falls from the stilts, into the clutches of the lava-monster. Between each run, they've been javelin-throwing the stilts back across the river. 

Group #2 has built a bridge - now comes the tricky bit of getting it across the river. They push and maneuver, but end up with a side which gets stuck, pivots a bit, and doesn't quite make it across. Still, they get tinkerers out on the bridge and within jumping distance to the other side, but not without ending up below the mandated 6" above the ground. 

Here's a better shot of the weird bend the bridge develops. 

Group #3 has developed a "lava-shoe". With some help from the poles they're using to balance, they begin the trek across. Two tinkerers make it, only for us to lose the third one as he burns in a pit of lava. 

Miles crosses the finish line. 

It's  a good group - as we head back in for hot chocolate, cards, and bananagrams, the excitement and anticipation for the week is tangible. Tomorrow, the big project reveal. 

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