Tinkering School

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Session F: Day 3 - Rolling Onwards

2016 Session F - SeniorsSerena G-HComment

Written by Serena & Ana. 

This morning, it's time to really get started. Yesterday was about familiarizing ourselves with our options, developing our designs, and getting to know our problem on a theoretical level. Yes, we used the tools, and yes, we started some assembly, but today comes the tricky bit. 

Serena opens the morning by reminding the tinkerers that failure is an important part of Tinkering School, and that sketches and early designs will only get them so far. She challenges them to start, build something, and fail early and often, so that they can improve in time for race day. They take that advice to heart. Our early morning hardware store run leaves, with one team representative from each group, and the rest of the crew gets back to work. 

One of the first things we start to see assembled are wheel-boxes. This is a tricky set of material limitations to work within - each team has been allotted just six skateboard wheels and two train wheels. Tinkerers are starting to realize that not all of their plans accounted for the vastly different radii of the two wheels, and almost none had dealt with the different mounting systems each wheel would require. 

Another tricky problem which was discussed yesterday is how to support the guide wheels. On most of our past cart iterations, these bolts gave way under any significant shift in weight, bending inward and causing the cart to derail. Collaboratively, we've come up with our possible solutions to this problem, each with slightly different trade offs. We spend a good portion of the morning sketching these and wrapping our heads around the problem. 

A real-life version of one of the potential designs, built almost four weeks ago and now partially disassembled. 

Team Nooi works out their cart base. 

The team that headed to the hardware store has returned, so we have snack, and then it's time for a long-time tradition - giving each tinkerer a knife. Before we do that, we go over the rules for knife use. 

Katelin demonstrates one of our five rules for knife use - making sure everyone is out of her "blood bubble," the zone around her the length of her arm plus the length of her blade, where she could potentially cut someone if she slipped.  The other four rules include maintaining a sharp blade, having three points of contact, locking your knife, and cutting away from yourself.

Each tinkerer shows off their skills.

Sol works on assembling guide wheels for the Piki cart. He and his team have come up with a clever solution which uses eyebolts to keep the guide wheels from bending inwards.  

Ana and Michael work together to cut their threaded rod. 

While Jo, their third teammate, works on repairing the Nooi segment of track. 

Katelin and Megan work on adding back the two segments of track that had been replaced by the turntable. 

Austin and Sol work on assembling their cart base and installing the guide wheel braces. 

Portrait of a Tinkerer: Zach, decked in a tire. 

Jo and Ana work together to work out how their axle should be installed. 

Jake converses with Rory from the Sky Bench as he whittles. 

Audrey and Charlotte make a plan for mounting their wheel boxes to their cart base. 

One side of Team Piki's wheelbase, complete. 

Collaborator Lyman lends a hand with track repair. 

Jack takes a go with "Esmerelda," the new saw Nik just couldn't resist buying on the hardware store run. 

Portrait of a Tinkerer: Audrey's mastered the drill. 

Austin makes a cut on the chop saw. Because of the materials limits, each team must carefully think through and plan their cuts. 

Another guide wheel bracing solution, as implemented by Kablooi. They're running a 1x4 across both internal guide wheels, and relying on the compression strength of wood to keep the bolts evenly spaced. 

Lauren cuts slots meant to tighten in the axle for the train wheels. 

And then drills holes in the axle to use for screws. Mar holds and helps. 

Team Panda has cut slots in their chassis to provide clearance for their train wheels. It's quite elegant, actually. 

Both the jigsaw and the circular saw have gotten heavy, but thoughtful use today. Collaborator Serena watches as Megan cuts plates for her team. 

The jigsaw is versatile.  It turns out to be the best tool we have for cutting out our axle conduit (metal tube is apparently only pipe when it has water flowing through it). 

Austin and Sol act out how their hand crank system will work for the camera. They plan to attach an axle there, then belt down to the drive axle across the bottom that they also haven't installed quite yet. We're at a cool stage of the project - tinkerers now have tangible image of how their carts will look, and a clear grasp on how much work it will take to get there. As a whole, that's about right for a Tuesday afternoon. 

Our superhero: Collaborator Jay shows off his moves. 

It's Taco Tuesday! We lay out a beautiful spread. After a long day of work, tinkerers are hungry. 

After dinner, we fall into some fun with pool noodles. 

Then head up to the playground for some fun with tire swings. 

There's something sort of magical about riding atop a tire. 

Ana enjoys a ride.

We rediscover the kittens. They bring just as much joy tonight as they did yesterday, and they're still just as soft. 

Portrait of a Tinkerer: Pascal's Tube. 

Today, we thought about all sorts of ways to make carts roll. But we did more than think - we enacted our designs, and we made strong, clear progress. We solved problems as they arose, changed plans, and tinkered. We're starting to see the first of our wheelbases emerge. Even if our carts don't themselves roll yet, we're rolling, and gaining momentum, and it's kind of awesome to watch. 

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