After Spending all week making a thing. We spent all morning playing with that thing. Then in roughly an hour of work, we deconstructed that thing. Many kids ask why we have to deconstruct everything we make, and every week it's said "tinkering school is about making things, not having things." We do not need a 200ft long obstacle course and floor-is-lava game, but we did need to make one.
We end the night and the week by asking campers to tell stories of other campers being excellent through out the week. This ritual always brings out some of the nicest things I have ever heard one kid tell another. We also eat s'mores.
Tomorrow we play.
Join us in a new experimental blog formate. An annotate gallery.
Beach day is a long standing tradition at Tinkering School. It's about the importance of rest when working on big complicated projects. In years past it has taken well crafted logic charts to minimize car rides and figure out most efficient loops to get us there. Now it's a short walk across the street. After beach day a few teams try and make a little progress with the light in the day that is left, but many zonk out, enjoy a full day of rest and get themselves ready for tomorrow. For now, we present a wordless photo essay of the day.
Be sure to click on the photos to make them bigger and prettier!
Today people manage to sleep in a bit - it’s around seven before the sun wakes us all up. We would start working on the project, but first, breakfast. Once everyone is done and Josh manages to calm us down, we start working on the project again. Things start off kinda slow, with the momentum of earlier wearing off and everyone standing around.
Eventually we motivate and begin to be rather productive. Some teams are still brainstorming, while other teams either finished that step already or are doing a small part of their course.
Ideas start flowing like water. Some teams have huge ideas that would take more than a week to complete, so we have to scale them down a bit, but they are still awesome. Ziplines came up multiple times, but unfortunately since we don’t have steel cables, we had to choose other things.
Piki has the top section, which is flat. Because some of their team members had started making a cart earlier when they were done with their bench, they had a partially constructed cart. With a little bit of work, it was finished, but didn’t have steering. Tinkering School has a history of really bad/not working steering, so it was sorta to be expected. But anyway, once they had the cart done they had to do something with it. They decided on pulling it with rope.
Nooi came up with an obstacle they dubbed The Cave. It is basically a crooked ladder with scrap wood which you have to climb over - in the (relative) dark.
After Kablooi drew out their plan, they started tinkering. Their section of the course is going to consist of three balance beams, at three different difficulties. They join up at the beginning and end, but in the middle there is a challenge that is the same difficulty as the beam.
Panda also brainstormed ideas for their section of the course. One part is a crooked ladder, which will go at an angle suspended between two wooden boxes.
No one can work straight through the day on the obstacle course. Avinash makes a fishing pole out of PVC, duct tape, and paracord.
Lunch is sandwiches again, but this time, as Josh noted, we like each other enough that we stayed at the table talking even after we finished all of our food. Finally Josh has to interrupt the conversations to get everyone ready for siesta.
After siesta, we go back to working on the project. Inspiration strikes and we are surprisingly productive, finishing most of The Cave, some supports on the swings, and much more small things that add up.
The shop has all of the tools in it, so it’s often very busy.
Benefits of being at an elementary school: playgrounds abound.
As the day progresses the teams get down to business. Piki works with the primary fulcrum of their obstacle. Bringing idea to reality is always tricky. Nooi struggles with their cart, Kablooi gets monkey bars in place, while Panda starts dreaming of swings. Tunnels form, rock-walls appear and the day starts cruising.
The thing about tinkering in high intensity bursts like we do here at Tinkering School, is that tinkering hard requires playing hard. Out of nowhere a basket ball hoop climbing party begins.
At Tinkering School sometime simple tasks become great moments of empowerment. Getting a stripped screw out of a piece of wood is not an exciting challenge, but it involves a touch of thoughtfulness and a totally new tool. Folks gather round to learn how it's done.
The day meanders from productivity to ideation to play until dinner. After dinner comes free play filled with four square, personal projects and bunk time. By day's-end energy is still high, but bedtime is serious business for people trying to accomplish so much.
Today is the day of learning. We learn how to use the tools, what a full day of tinkering is like, and finally… the project!
Side note: Flickr is waay ahead of the blog - pretty much up to date. Also, it has so many more photos than the ones featured in the blog! So check it out here.
First we get up and have morning circle.
Josh makes a speech about tools and why it is important to use them safely, efficiently, and without damaging them.
Tool training consists of three sections: chop saw, drill, and clamps.
Chop saw training is almost all about safety. We learn how to not cut our fingers off and other useful safety things.
Drill training is more about not breaking the drills than safety, but there is still danger when using them.
Clamps are pretty intuitive, but there are definitely better and worse ways to use them.
To learn how to make best use of the clamps, we have three challenges.
Clamp two pieces of wood together
Clamp two pieces of wood at a right angle
Clamp a chair the smallest person can sit on
After everyone rotates through all of the stations, we start our mini starter project - benches (screwed in this time.) As of now, the fire pit is all alone, so we are going to make benches to surround it. That and we’d like somewhere to sit.
We split into five bench teams.
Bridget’s group works on their bench: a plywood contraption.
Connor and Lauren’s team's bench has a super-comfy but hard to make paracord back.
Jenny’s group has a 2x4 seat.
We have lunch in the MU.
After that is siesta, a time to relax, regroup, and rejuvenate.
Then right back to bench building.
Rhodey and Hannah’s group
Sayer’s group gets right to work and starts measuring and cutting wood.
Now it is time for the biggest reveal of the whole week: what is the project?
Just for some backstory, it is tradition at Tinkering School that the project is kept a secret. Anticipation builds all day as Josh keeps a tight lip.
And the project is…
An obstacle course!
Each team is given a quarter of the distance from the top of the slope to the playground, and they have to create an obstacle course that allows a person to get from one side to the other while playing The Ground is Lava (i.e. cross the asphalt without touching the ground).
Some people start with paper and sketches,
and others start getting things in their hands.
Finally, we have to clean up and head to dinner. After dinner, we have free time. The camera was left in the cafeteria, but everyone had lots of fun playing four-square, reading in their bunks, finishing final steps on benches, and starting personal projects.
Sleep time is getting closer and closer, and we start getting ready for bed. Heads are spinning with ideas, and there will be many dreams of obstacle courses.
We arrive at camp and see our beautiful space.
The girls get settled in and start getting to know each other.
Josh gives a tour. First we have the lumber tent, with piles of stacked wood.
Then shelves with lots and lots of assorted stuff,
and a well-stocked tool wall.
The playground is pretty cool too.
Your Daily Collaborator: Bros for life
The cafeteria is pretty exclusive: only people with washed hands are allowed in.
After dinner, we decide to go on a hike.
Winter found a beetle!
We set it free though.
At the top of the hike, we hang out a bit, explore off the beaten path.
We head back down and go to bed. The project is yet untold, so everyone is excited for tomorrow's big reveal.