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2013 Session 3 - Middles

Day Six - Survival of the Fittest (vehicle)

2013 Session 3 - MiddlesgeverComment

This could become a habit - tonight's blog is co-written by Serena and Lauren Yes, we woke up. Yes, we ate breakfast, and yes, we played outside. But we didn't grab the camera until we got to the barn at 9am and had been working for fifteen minutes.

Adam, Mori, and Eloise bring the Nooi contraption up to the flat stretch of road near the ranch house for a first test. IMG 0786

Lauren works with Zachary to cut a new steering post for Zachary's scooter. IMG 0795

Aaaah! A bat! (Mori) IMG 0801

Portrait of a Tinkerer: Griffin in Safety Gear IMG 0805

Work in the barn is a many-handed affair. IMG 0826

Two friends from New York (Griffin and Mori), inseparable in Manhattan, inseparable at Elkus Ranch. IMG 0849

Portrait of a Tinkerer: Liora IMG 0881

It looks like Brigid might have an idea. A sneaky idea... IMG 0891

Brigid, Harry, and Liora take the ("awesome") Panda skateboard gargantua for a ride that turns out to be a little too squirrely IMG 0924

Gever makes his "serious face", motioning wildly with his hands as he explains stuff to the Panda team. IMG 0930

Portrait of a Tinkerer: Emma IMG 0950

Zachary concentrates as he tests out his newly built scooter. Steering is difficult and requires dedication and focus. IMG 0966

Eucalyptus leave hats are all the rage - Liora tries on the newest style. The goats like this latest fashion development too - eucalyptus leaves are tasty treats. IMG 0968

Liora wants us all to admire her newly made "Panda" cape. IMG 0971

Noah spends some quality time with a goat. IMG 0976 X

Our visitors from Madrid have formed their own team, and in true Tinkering School style, named it - "Vacas Locas." The kids gather around their newly made tricycle to investigate and give advice. IMG 0981

Griffin and Mackenzie work together on wheels for Griffin's scooter. IMG 0982

Harry attaches a basket to the front of the Panda's giant skateboard - to hold the repair kit they will need on the road, as Mackenzie looks on. IMG 0991

Griffin cracks jokes, as he always does. Somehow he can manage to keep a straight face - Lauren can't. IMG 0997

Our new friends from Tinkering School Madrid: Inez and Fernando. IMG 1004

Harry searches for just the right screw. IMG 1009

Behold the mighty Josh! IMG 1014

And the mighty Adam! IMG 1015

Photographic proof - not even Gever is perfect. Here is a first: he tied the wrong knot! IMG 1034

A ragtag gang of misfits if ever there was one. IMG 1043

The first team lines up to start: Josh, Griffin and Emma of the Piki. IMG 1058

And they're off! IMG 1060

The Nooi line up, excited for the adventure ahead. IMG 1065

And they're off! IMG 1070

The Kablooi take their fleet to the line, and head off. IMG 1076

And the Panda follow, Liora and Brigid riding behind. The excitement of the coming journey is in the air. IMG 1079

And the Panda are off! IMG 1085

A few yards into the ride, the Panda teams 2x4, which connected their bike to their skateboard, split. They stop to repair it. IMG 1092

Liora bends down to remove the bolt. IMG 1103

And Harry drills a new hole. The Panda head for the road, and the truck heads for the first pit stop. IMG 1107

The Panda's skateboard, after a successful 1/2 a mile after repairs, breaks down again - this time, it's the wheel - the left one is screwed on too tight and can't spin. We carry the ship back. IMG 1142

Harry and Noah celebrate - they've reached the first pit stop, and have repaired their respective vehicles. IMG 1185

Eloise, Mori, Josh and Mackenzie wait at the second pit stop. They're excited to see the truck - the truck means food. IMG 1230

Serena leans out the side of the truck to line up for a shot. IMG 1232

Lauren leads the way, practically racing her bike, as the second two teams emerge at the second pit stop. IMG 1269

Noah examines the crack in the side of his 2x4, wondering how best to repair it. Inscribed on his hand is his favorite song of the night before: "We are going to be friends." IMG 1325

The Panda and the Kablooi depart the second pit stop- refueled and ready to hit the road. IMG 1333

The retrieve and chase logistics get complicated as the two blocks of teams get further apart. We all meet up at the end of the trail and load up, then head home for a delicious dinner and our last session of free-build. We light a small fire, and hold a sing along, enjoying our last evening in one-another's company. The middlers have no set bedtime on Friday night, so its home to the house for card games and discussions.

Day Five - New Beginnings

2013 Session 3 - MiddlesgeverComment

Thanks to Serena who took the blog reins tonight! Morning dawns, and we get ready to begin a new and exciting day. IMG 0349

Building on the skills developed during the chariot races, Gever presents the new challenge - wheel your entire team down four and a half miles down the Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail. We head to the barn to discuss and plan. IMG 0356

In order to begin, we must first access and divide the scrap pile - and then for the fun part, the gathering and examining of the wheels. New teams are assembled for the new challenge - Piki: Griffin, Emma and Josh, Kablooi: Lauren, Noah, Zachary, Nooi: Adam, Eloise and Mori, and the Panda: Liora, Harry and Brigid. IMG 0360

Our new guests from Madrid have come to learn how Tinkering School works. Adam explains and guides them through proper chop-saw operation. IMG 0367

The newly formed Panda team, Liora, Harry and Brigid begin to assemble their tandem skateboard. IMG 0371

Emma's (not quite complete) scooter goes for a test run. IMG 0375

Just before being sent back to the house to put on real shoes, Noah hangs ten on his mini board. IMG 0380

Harry takes a nose dive as he tries out the Panda skateboard. IMG 0390

And of course, after a new start, we need a new goat break. IMG 0392

It is terrible to see such suffering on the faces of young and innocent children. Griffin suffers along through the abysmal sweat shop conditions. IMG 0404

In the cathedral of the barn, Gever and Mackenzie kneel at the altar of tinkering as they discuss difficult design choices. IMG 0406

Lunch has become home to a secret reading society. Head of this, is, of course, Lauren. IMG 0423

Emma at work on her prototype. IMG 0433

Adam at work on yet another mount for their scooter-sidecars. IMG 0447

Portrait of a Tinkerer: Mori the Monster IMG 0450

Brigid gets a plumber's tape tutorial. IMG 0457

Emma works on a brake for her scooter. IMG 0459

Harry's work with plumber's tape comes to a screeching halt when he sees the clementines arrive. IMG 0471

Caravaggio's got nothing on us. Noah working on his scooter. IMG 0475 X

Brigid tries out the Panda's tandem skateboard - will it hold her? IMG 0481

Lauren works on a parts basket for the Kablooi bicycle. IMG 0488

Gever asks for advice on the placement of his new hat - "Do I look more intelligent with it in back? Or in front?" Lauren and Zachary wonder what has come over the director of Tinkering School, but offer their opinions. IMG 0497

Mackenzie and Griffin share a moment of mutual appreciation as they work out the details of Griffin's scooter. IMG 0506

And this happened. (Mori) IMG 0511

Portrait of a Tinkerer: Josh IMG 0512

Noah builds a steering handle for his scooter. IMG 0518 X

Zachary works on his scooter - there will be squadrons of scooters tomorrow. IMG 0527 X

During the afternoon lull, we decide to take a hike break. IMG 0558

Little did they know, that the "little" hike was about to become an adventure. IMG 0569

Eloise demonstrates how to properly jump over a fence - wearing a big grin. IMG 0576

"Let's take this well graded road! It must lead somewhere… " - these might of been the last words of Doctor Livingstone. IMG 0584

A well graded road becomes a somewhat groomed trail - but it's no trouble for us tinkerers. We press on. IMG 0609

From a hillside down into a verdant canyon. Suddenly, we aren't quite as sure of where we are. IMG 0629

Refusing all of Serena's efforts to give (sound) advice, Noah tests his scooter without handle bars. It looks like this. IMG 0669

When his doesn't work, he borrows Griffin's. IMG 0673 X

Noah plays tube toss, using Griffin as a post. A moving one. IMG 0693

A short trip to the eucalyptus grove is declared necessary. On the way back, eucalyptus on top a'flyin', the truck returns triumphant. IMG 0699 X

Gever on the top of the truck. Again. IMG 0718

Thursday evening barbecue- Brigid gets cozy with her burger as Liora looks on. IMG 0734

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Another well loved Thursday night tradition is the campfire. We all gather up to enjoy its heat and one another's company. IMG 0738

And we roast marshmallows. IMG 0746

Gever and Mackenzie harmonize on the John Prine classic - Angel from Montgomery. IMG 0753

Tonight we feast on s'mores. Tomorrow will be a new adventure. IMG 0776

Day Two - Monday Stands for Work

2013 Session 3 - MiddlesgeverComment

There are things that happen at night at Tinkering School, in the dining room, after lights-out. With cards.IMG 8930

Sometimes, before you get to work, you need to indulge your creative impulses. Liora feels that her puppet needs a nose. IMG 8941 X

"I just need to finish this chapter…", says Griffin, tool in hand. IMG 8955

Gever describes the first challenge of Session 3, and suddenly, what seemed like "just a chariot, you know, a box pulled by a bicycle" is starting to sound tricky. There's the connection to the bike, the wheel mounts, the carriage… IMG 8990

But the bicycle is definitely an interesting thing to try and connect to. IMG 9001

IMG 5310

That's enough talking, let's make teams and get to work. IMG 9013

Lauren is quick to point out that she's been on the Kablooi team at every one of the three Tinkering School sessions she has attended. IMG 5312

Taking advantage of the open floors before the projects take up all of the space, Gever takes one of the bikes for a ride. IMG 9033

Portrait of a Young Tinkerer: Josh IMG 9035

Liora and Eloise get to work on their wheel mounts. From Gever's presentation of the challenges, most of the teams seem to have picked up on his clues about focusing on the two most complicated problems first: the hitch, and the wheel mounts. IMG 5320

Adam and Emma of the Panda team are working on their hitch implementation. IMG 9053

Griffin (of the Nooi) is thinking that a caster bearing might be just the thing to connect a chariot to a bicycle. A decision that may come back to haunt his team later. IMG 9061

Liora begins what will be a multi-hour ordeal threading large hex nuts on to a long axle rod that has many manufacturing defects. IMG 9085

There are many fascinating solutions to the hitch problem emerging. IMG 9100

Be careful what you bite when you are holding both a banana and a drill. IMG 9116

Harry gets the support beams added to the Kablooi hitch. IMG 9122

Before lunch, we decide to take a quick break at the creek. IMG 5324

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IMG 9155

Mackenzie catches a crawdad and shares it with everyone. IMG 5328

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Portrait of a Young Collaborator: Serena IMG 9183

Something wonderful happens when you let children loose in the woods. IMG 9190

IMG 9201

After lunch, Harry gets back to work in the barn. IMG 9228

The Nooi's re-purposed caster is fully integrated in their new hitch mount. IMG 5335

A load of kids heads off to view and analyze the test track with Gever in the truck - so they ride on the outside. IMG 9266

IMG 9270

IMG 9273

Gever, Mori, Griffin, and Josh (a motley crew if ever there was one) walking out to the test track. IMG 5343

Gever has lead them to the abandoned RC airstrip south of Half Moon Bay. It is, we determine, twenty feet wide and 265 usable feet long. Perfect for chariot racing! IMG 5344

And this happened. IMG 5349

After another few hours back at the barn, we took a goat break. Emma with the baby brown kid. IMG 9314

Serena with the beige goat. IMG 9324

You can't believe how adorable it is to be nibbled by a baby goat. Really. You can't. IMG 9348

Noah and the beige goat. IMG 9355

Liora with the brown goat. IMG 9359

Eloise with the bony one. IMG 9364

Griffin with the wrinkly one. IMG 9372

Adam with the sleepy one. IMG 5352

We return to the barn, finish up, and dance! IMG 9402

Dancing is not enough, we must play tag. IMG 9408

Serious Banana Tag. IMG 9411

In case you were wondering, here are tomorrow's dinner makings. IMG 5361

After dinner, the Tinkering School knives are given out. Lauren has every one of the three knives she has received at Tinkering School. IMG 9427

A spontaneous whittlin' circle takes form on the barn deck. The conversation turns to the critical differences between geeks and nerds. IMG 9429

And that was our day. Tomorrow is Tuesday, day three. The theme of the day is "Chariot Testing." So far, one of the caster-based hinges has already broken - it should be an interesting day.

Day One - Ladies and Gents, Make a Seat

2013 Session 3 - Middlesgever1 Comment

Tinkering School is an odd mixture of traditions and improv. We used to expect campers to root around in the boxes of tools and materials of their own accord when they needed something. Over the years we saw less exploration and more reliance on a small subset of very well known items. To reverse this tendency, we now have the Dance of the Tool Elves. It goes something like this: everyone grabs a box from the shelves and puts it on the work table.IMG 8745

Then, we take up positions around the work table, pull a random item (which we have to name), then take two steps clockwise. Repeat until it becomes ridiculous. IMG 8759

Add in five-minute mini-talks from Gever and the Collaborators to cover proper tool use and barn etiquette. IMG 8764

The chop-saw is a long-time favorite in the Tinkering School tool repertoire. IMG 8769

This might be the Tinkering School equivalent of catching snowflakes on your tongue... IMG 8771

Liora and Emma mount the assembly to test the butt-joint - in the weakest direction! IMG 8780

Noah leans on the "shelf" to test it's load-bearing ability. And discovers that it breaks with almost no pressure. Lesson: screwing into the end-grain of a 1x4 is a fool's dream. Back to the drawing board. IMG 8784

Gever adds a brace under the shelf, Noah leans hard, then harder, then hard as he can - it won't break! IMG 8791

Noah decides that it is time to put it to the ultimate test. Will it hold? It will! IMG 8794

Will it hold Lauren? It will! IMG 8797

Will it hold Mori? It will! IMG 8799

Will it hold Liora? It will! IMG 8801

Will it hold Gever? IMG 8803

Apparently not. IMG 8804

After structural engineering 101, Gever announces the afternoon project: build a chair that you can sit on at the dinner table. Tonight? Yes, and you only get 16 linear feet of 1x4. No you cannot use fancy hardware from the Tinkering School boxes.

Birds of a feather - Mackenzie and Eloise start planning their chairs. IMG 8810

Serena (promoted to junior Collaborator this session) is in charge of metering out the boardage. Brigid would like one of the full-length 8-foot boards, please. IMG 8816

Eloise cuts her chair legs. Four, very diminutive legs. IMG 8818

Griffin checks his cutting plan with Lorena (colaboradora de España). IMG 8821

Adam proves that a steady hand with the jigsaw obviates the need for the table saw. It was a good cut, said Serena. IMG 8835

Gever has to convince the New York boys (Griffin and Mori) that they don't need six legs on their bench, and the only way they will believe it is to try it out. Shims are deployed and weight is applied. IMG 8837

This photograph is needed to prove to them that the bench does not bend (much). IMG 8839

Noah's single-seater bench is a showcase of precision assembly. IMG 8841

His work shows in the tightness of his joinery. IMG 8847

Eloise might be using fairy magic to hold her chair together, but we can't be sure because she is just terrifically sneaky. IMG 8856

Emma measures wood to be removed from both ends of her seat boards so as to maximize time at the chop saw. IMG 8858

The photographer normally frowns on posed shots, but the Griffin and Mori bench stands on it's own four legs - a moment worthy of the "V" for victory (or is it "peace man!"?). IMG 8872

Zachary embraces the iterative engineering process that is the norm at Tinkering School by building, adding, and then promptly removing a backrest. IMG 8874

Harry, under the watchful eye of Mackenzie, braces to his wobbly legs. IMG 8877

Zachary gets a little help from Serena with the addition of feet to his legs. IMG 8888

Mori and Griffin employ bar-clamps in the assembly of their much-needed leg braces. Gever appreciates the use of clamps. IMG 8892

And, suddenly, chairs! IMG 8899

Keen to demonstrate the benefits of backless stools, Brigid and Lauren carry the fruits of the labor on just one finger. IMG 8911 IMG 8912

Over dinner, Gever tells the story of the relationship between the width of the Roman chariot and the design of the US Space Shuttles (he heard it as a teenager in an episode of James Burke's Connections, but as he and Serena explored the veracity of the story, they found some corroboration and some "minor" and "unremarkable" discrepancies). But, the point is, chariots are cool and we have four bicycles from Session 2 that would make great horses. So, it's chariots by Tuesday afternoon!

After dinner, we returned to the barn for some might fine free-buildin' action.

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