Tinkering School

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TSO-B - Day 2 - The Heist of the Beloved Big Jewel Begins

2018 Session B - JuniorsTinkering School Staff1 Comment
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I didn't plan to be the first person awake this morning, but something about the day two jitters led me to slink out my yurt at 5 am. Pretty soon thereafter, kids and Collaborators started to wake up like popcorn heating up in the microwave. First it was Miriam and Reilly, pouring themselves morning coffee, and then - pop-pop-pop - half of the "Death Star" was in the Conference Center itching to get into an epic pool noodle thwacking battle. Daniel, Tal, and Ashley started to make us all pancakes, waffles, and scrambled eggs. I played an extra-long game of Crazy Chess with Solin and we speculated if the game would be improved if every piece could move like the Queen. All this before 8 am, before we brushed our teeth and changed out of our pajamas, and before we received the confidential telegram with information about our heist. 

In the morning, Kaitlyn received a secret note addressed to the Spies of Tinkering School Overnight, which instructed us that "our mission was to devise three mechanisms that will allow us to steal the Beloved Big Jewel and make a getaway." Yesterday, we had fiddled about with gears in the conference center, leafed through David Macauley's How Things Work, and spotted some bins of pulleys in the shop, and today was our opportunity to put our skills to the test.

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The first part of the mission was to make a mechanism that could GET US IN to the bank. We heard that the bank was several feet tall and we needed to have a moving mechanism that could get agents up and over the bank walls. We decided to build a fake Starbucks next to the bank equipped with a rooftop drawbridge that would lower down on top of the bank and give us easy access to the Beloved Big Jewel. No one would see that coming!

The first step was to play around with pulleys, build a frame for the Starbucks building, and capture Nibbles the Trained Beetle, who quickly became the group mascot and would be deployed into the bank to defuse security.

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The second part of the mission was to make a mechanism that could GRAB THE BELOVED BIG JEWEL from inside the bank. We learned that the jewel was about the size of an apple and very fragile so it couldn't be dropped. We needed a mechanism that could be used to scoop, grab, latch on to, or otherwise obtain the jewel and get out of the bank structure without a trace.

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We wanted a Mission Impossible-style drop-down swing, but quickly discovered that it took four people's muscles to lift one Ronin and that the bank vault was a very treacherous structure to drop down from without a ladder. Soon we added two more pulleys to our system and Henry coached Ronin through some advanced parkour maneuvers for a safe escape. We also built a ladder that, after three or so iterations, was finally tall enough to reach the top of the bank tower, and Anabella single-handedly devised an ingenious grabber-tool mechanism that I totally forgot to photograph!

The final part of the mission was to make a mechanism that could GET US AWAY from the bank and could transport at least two people with the jewel in hand back to our hideout at the bottom of the hill. Under Jack's steady leadership, this small but mighty team whipped up a frame for their getaway car and made a lot of sparks in the process.

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So many other lovely moments today...

Like when Raquel and Sofia hoisted their homemade Sky Bench into the forest trees... 

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Like when we stuck our fingers to a slimy banana slug and it was totally gross but also totally awesome...

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Like when Dade saw a pile of skateboard wheels and immediately began working on a homemade skateboard or when Lucy serendipitously color-matched her puffy coat to her protective eyewear...

Or when we rummaged around the creek, splashing in the water, and luring crawfish towards us with a piece of pepperoni attached to a pipe cleaner. We even caught a couple and brought them home for a little low-country boil. Another day....

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