Tinkering School

come make amazing things with us

Alligator Elevator

Aesthetic Challenge, Direct Provocation, Engineering Challenge, Mechanical, Narrative, Problem Solving, Prototyping, Science, RopeAmanda SimonsComment

In the Tinkering School warehouse, there is a giant pterodactyl skeleton that lives in the rafters. One of the teachers at the day school made it for a party, and now it has found its home with us. This huge sculpture is often a topic of conversation and also sometimes an overstimulating distraction when we're trying to do tool training or talk about safety!

At this last one day workshop of the season, we decided that the pterodactyl needed a friend in the rafters. An alligator. We would design it. We would build it. We would lift it to its friend in the ceiling!

But first, tool training and practice!

As a group, we learned how to use the chopsaw, drills, and clamps and got a chance to practice working together to cut and clamp and drill things. After training and practice and some lunch (!) we got to work on our designs for the alligator elevator.

We split into two groups, and worked the rest of the afternoon on our plans. One group designed and built the alligator, and the other group figured out how to lift heavy things using pulleys and mechanical advantage.

What was great and rare about this one day workshop was the under of iteration opportunities we created. A thing that we often struggle with, as educators, in these short one-day situations is that we run out of time. We simply don't have the time to produce multiple versions of the same experiment.

During this workshop, the lifting team was essentially working on designing and testing a block and tackle pulley system. We started by lifting a platform that we designed and built. Then we used the platform to lift a cinder block. Then two cinder blocks.

And then, at the end we lifted the gator!

What an awesome day! Thanks everyone!

The Great Ping Pong Ball Adventure: A Workshop with Teachers and Students of Head-Royce School

Aesthetic Challenge, All Teens, Component Replication, For Educators, Engineering Challenge, Interactive, Mechanical, Open Ended Solution, Problem Solving, Prototyping, Unusual Materials, Tinkering ChallengeAmanda SimonsComment

In the shop, we have a Ziplock bag of these bizarre ping pong balls with a face on them. (We have no idea whose face this is, so I apologize in advance if you stumble across this post and find your face on a ping pong ball!) For this workshop, we designed a multi-tiered interactive challenge for the attendees.

A Zoo PlayGround: A Lesson in Linguistics and Overcoming Limitations

Engineering Challenge, Interactive, Open Ended Design, Problem Solving, Rope, LinguisticsAmanda SimonsComment

After a morning of tool training and practice, we introduced the project that we would all be working on together for the rest of the day. A Zoo Playground was our prompt -- but how we arrived at its implementation was not so simple. As a group, we began by brainstorming the types of VERBS we do at the playground. Everyone closed their eyes and imagined their last trip to a playground -- what was the weather, who were you with, how did you feel, and what were you doing?

Welding Workshop!

Welding, Technical Skills, MetalLindsay JonesComment
Lucy does her first weld all on her own, even though she was really nervous!

Lucy does her first weld all on her own, even though she was really nervous!

We started the day off learning how welding works, how we work the welding, and how to be safe!

We all agreed to share welding techniques, design ideas and mistakes we overcame with each other all day.  Then everyone got to practice welding on a flat piece of metal to get the hang of it, before we started joining pieces together!

Here we see a weld with zigzags that are too far apart, one that was too fast, and one that was fast then slow!

Here we see a weld with zigzags that are too far apart, one that was too fast, and one that was fast then slow!

After kids had a good idea of to use the welder, they brainstormed and designed, then re-designed then got to welding!

Welding is 90% set up and 10% welding. Here are some cool set-ups the kids did today.

Some projects needed curved pieces, so we heated them up with blowtorches and bent it with giant wrenches!

Everyone did a great job of sticking with it through scared feelings, finicky machines that needed love, tricky weld set-ups and time constraints. By the end of the day we had all these beautiful projects:

This workshop was a great mixed age group of kids! They collaborated through out the day, even though they were all working on independent projects.  They made sure their fellow tinkerers were getting equal welding time and helped each other figure out problems. Then they all helped reset the tools and stations when we were all finished! What a dream!

We have tons more pictures of the kids melting steel over Flickr

Bowlercoaster - All Teens + English Language Learners Special Session

All Teens, Component Replication, Engineering Challenge, For Educators, Problem Solving, Physics, Prototyping, Tinkering ChallengeAmanda SimonsComment

This past weekend, Tinkering School hosted a special session of English Language Learners from China. We had been coordinating this session for a couple of months, and the preparation involved lots of chatting between our Director Karen and the Program's Manager in China. They corresponded mostly about TS vocabulary words and concepts to help prepare the students for the loads of information they would received at the workshop about how to use the tools and how to treat one another and the space while at TS.

Hungry, Hungry Hippos!

Interactive, Mechanical, Problem SolvingDaniel BiglerComment
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What do you get when you have a bunch of eager tinkerers, some bowling balls, a full day of tinkering ahead, and a crazy idea inspired by a classic childhood board game? Why, you make a gigantic-sized version of Hungry, Hungry Hippos!

With that gargantuan goal in mind, we set out to see what we could do to satisfy the culinary needs of a ravenous, hungry hippo…

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Before getting started, though, we meet as a group to introduce ourselves, share what kind of soup we'd love if we could make soup out of anything (ice cream and pizza soup were definitely huge hits), and discuss the Tinkering School goals and agreements:

  1. Collaborate and make friends!
  2. Make mistakes and learn from them.
  3. Try harder than usual.
  4. Make something bigger than yourself.

It's always interesting to see how seemingly every part of the Tinkering School experience — every small moment, every interaction — can usually be encompassed in and reflected by these four goals. They might seem simple at first, but in that simplicity is a kind of subtle genius that only really becomes transparent when you see two kids who might not otherwise interact helping each other to build a ladder, or a young perfectionist embracing and learning from mistakes they made, or a five-year-old marveling at the end of a hard day of tinkering at how much more capable they are than they thought of actually, truly building something bigger than themselves. And today was certainly no exception, as we undertook our gigantic, hippo-sized task…

But first, it's off to tool training! Before we can build big things, we need to get acquainted with our main tools — and today, that meant meeting our good friends the chop saw, power drills, and clamps.

Here, collaborator Molly introduces a group of kids to the chop saw and how to use it: you find and measure your piece of wood, mark off a line to cut on, make sure the blade itself lines up with it, push it back against the chop saw wall, check to make sure everyone around you is ready (with the ever-reliable, patent-pending, thumbs-up-if-you're-ready "Ready Call!"), form a tiger paw with one hand to hold the wood down, and with your other on the saw handle, you make your cut! When you're done, you use your big piece of wood to push any small pieces of wood outside of the chop saw's "blood bubble" (an invisible zone around the blade you never want to reach your hand in). Then voilá: you have made a big piece of wood into two smaller pieces!

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Elsewhere in tool training land, kids also got introduced to the drills:

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… and the clamps (clamp bridges FTW!):

With a newfound sense of tool-trained empowerment and we-can-build-anything momentum at our backs — and a little bit of lunch in our belly, since tinkering can be hungry work — we settle into designing our hungry hippo and a way to feed it. We quickly decide we need two teams: one to work on the hippo itself (whom I'm just going to call Florence for the purposes of this blog, and because every hippo needs a name), and another to work on a structure with a ladder and a ramp that we can use to "feed"/roll down the bowling balls into Florence's mouth.

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After a bit more designing, the groups soon split off to start building, and things slowly begin to take shape.

Making Florence, it turns out, involves making really BIG frames out of wood, as Travis, Leona, Carmella, Rayahn, Luc, and collaborator Lindsey soon find out.

Meanwhile, the Feeding Apparatus team — comprised of collaborator Molly, Truman, Gurneet, and George, as well as Daniel M., Daniel A., and collaborator Daniel B. (yes, this team is chock-full of Daniels) — get started building the structure and ramp they plan to roll the bowling ball from.

Of course, what good is a structure that you can't climb up on? Here, George and Daniel work together to assemble a ladder for just such a purpose. 

Tada! The Feeding Apparatus is coming together.

Meanwhile, the Hippo team face an interesting design quandary: they need to decide what shape to make Florence's mouth so that it can best gobble up the bowling balls. After experimenting with a few different ideas, they soon land on a funnel-shape, to better capture any errant bowling balls rolling its way. With only a little building time remaining, they brilliantly team together to bring it into fruition.

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They finish Florence's mouth just in time. Meanwhile, the Feeding Apparatus team realize they're likely not going to finish the ramp to roll bowling balls down in time — but that seems to be alright with everyone, since unfinished projects are just another part of the Tinkering School experience, and its really the process of working to build something bigger than yourself that's the most gratifying. (Also, ladders. Young kids really do seem to love making ladders.)

Before parents arrive, though, we have one last meeting as a group to talk about and draw how we each might have experienced one of the Tinkering School goals today. Here are a few reflective drawings from that discussion…

And now, with parents here to watch, we embark on finally feeding our hungry, hungry hippo...

It's a success! As it turns out, rolling bowling balls on the floor is super fun — and actually inspires a new idea perhaps for next time… hungry, hungry hippo bowling, anyone?

How to Flip A Wooden Waffle

Direct Provocation, Interactive, Mechanical, Narrative, Problem SolvingAmanda SimonsComment

At Tinkering School today, we set out to make a wooden waffle and build a mechanism that flips it!

This prompt was inspired by my recent obsession with making all meals into waffles, and the problem that I have at home: my waffle pan is cast iron and one-sided. Every time I make a waffle, I can only cook one side at a time and have to flip and squish it halfway through. I always have a hard time prying the waffle away from the pan and to gently flip it. With all these curious minds in one place, maybe we could solve the problem?

Well, we definitely did! 

But first! We had to learn about the tools and each other. We split into groups and got to practice using drills, using the chopsaw, and using clamps safely and effectively.

Here are some of those amazing moments:

After tool practice, we ate lunch and then designed the different components of the project. The waffle team and the waffle flipper teams figured out what the things should look like, what they should do, and how big they should be. 

The design session yielded some pretty amazing, silly, and complicated ideas!

And then we worked in teams all afternoon!

It was a lot of fun, and some Tinkerers got to learn and use even more tools! The jigsaw and also the bandsaw was used to assist in constructing the waffle flipper, and meanwhile, the waffle team worked together to construct a really heavy wooden waffle stuck together with 150+ screws. 

In the end, we constructed a double-cube twisty-turny anti-gravity mechanism meant to flip a waffle 360 degrees! We totally ran out of time, and the cubes weren't stable enough to make the full turn, BUT, finishing the project definitely wasn't one of our goals. 

Also, one of the most impressive and inventive components of the project appeared in the photo below. The clamps became a material rather than a tool! The Tinkerers made clamp-holding turning tools with clamps at the end to grip the super heavy waffle.

Amazing!

Check out all the photos on Flickr!

Build a Vending Machine in One Day? Okay!

Engineering Challenge, Interactive, Mechanical, Problem Solving, PrototypingAmanda SimonsComment

One day, 16 Tinkerers, and one working vending machine? No problem.

At today's One Day Workshop, we began by using a 19" diameter plywood circle. The function of this amazing object? Well, today it was a quarter. That's right. Twenty-five cents. With that twenty-five cents, we will vend something. Easy, right? All we have to do is make something to accept the coin, build a mechanism that tells something to dispense and also build a thing that holds the something being dispensed.

Piece of cake!

And here's a preview of what happened:

In order to make all these amazing things happen, first we had to learn to use the tools. Piper and Mira show off their shape-shifting parallelogram. 

In order to make all these amazing things happen, first we had to learn to use the tools. Piper and Mira show off their shape-shifting parallelogram. 

Jay practices drilling with teammates to make some rectangles. 

Jay practices drilling with teammates to make some rectangles. 

One team worked on making a giant cube for all the vending machine components to fit inside. 

One team worked on making a giant cube for all the vending machine components to fit inside. 

We had some amazing teamwork today! Matthew and Turin worked together to build the base of a ramp. 

We had some amazing teamwork today! Matthew and Turin worked together to build the base of a ramp. 

More great teamwork from the ramp team: Lena helps Ronin line up a screw to drive in. 

More great teamwork from the ramp team: Lena helps Ronin line up a screw to drive in. 

Lyosha concentrates super hard at lining up a cut on the bandsaw with the help of Matthew and Lena. 

Lyosha concentrates super hard at lining up a cut on the bandsaw with the help of Matthew and Lena. 

All hands on deck as the ramp team clamps down some railing to prevent the giant coin from toppling over. 

All hands on deck as the ramp team clamps down some railing to prevent the giant coin from toppling over. 

One of the many coin rolling tests of the day! 

One of the many coin rolling tests of the day! 

We set up some really complicated bandsaw cuts today. The team worked together at the last minute to cut a coin slot from a single piece of plywood. 

We set up some really complicated bandsaw cuts today. The team worked together at the last minute to cut a coin slot from a single piece of plywood. 

More bandsaw concentration from Turin. 

More bandsaw concentration from Turin. 

During the design session, all the Tinkerers discussed the complications of the project and tried to come up with solutions to test out as a team. 

During the design session, all the Tinkerers discussed the complications of the project and tried to come up with solutions to test out as a team. 

At the end of the session, the whole team came together to try to make the machine vend pencils. (Oh yeah, we decided that for one giant quarter, you could get one pencil. 

At the end of the session, the whole team came together to try to make the machine vend pencils. (Oh yeah, we decided that for one giant quarter, you could get one pencil. 

Check out all the photos from the whole day on our Flickr Album

All Girls Workshop Slam Dunk

All Girls, Physics, Mechanical, Interactive, Fabric, Unusual MaterialsLindsay JonesComment

On Saturday 8 girls came together to figure out how to make a Dunk Tank full of pillows! It was an ambitious project for one day: it had moving parts and would need to be safe enough for humans to be on and inside of it. Could it be done?!

First we practiced using our main tools safely while also getting to know each other and practiced our other main skill: collaboration!

During the Design phase of the project, tinkerers thought through possible mechanism functions and structure design using each others arms and pencils, sketching out shapes and dimensions, and talking through combining ideas up on the drawing board.

Madeleine uses Olivia's hand and arm to show us how a lever could trigger something.

Madeleine uses Olivia's hand and arm to show us how a lever could trigger something.

We decided to kick off building with the things we knew we would definitely need:

A Tank

A Seat

A Target

Jordan clamps a corner together, so she can drill.

Jordan clamps a corner together, so she can drill.

The tank is formed!

The tank is formed!

Maddy cuts foam on the bandsaw so we don't get "butt splinters" as we slide into the tank.

Maddy cuts foam on the bandsaw so we don't get "butt splinters" as we slide into the tank.

Pearl marks where her team needs to drill holes to attach a hinge to the target.

Pearl marks where her team needs to drill holes to attach a hinge to the target.

At mid-day we have almost a whole, stable Tank, a cushy Seat, and a Target lever arm!

We discuss the next steps as a group and figure out what we need to before we start tinkering with connecting the Target to the Seat.

The Seat group decides to take a cue from our folding shop tables to create a support that swings flat.

The Seat group decides to take a cue from our folding shop tables to create a support that swings flat.

Tank team builds a ladder so we can climb up on to the seat! No detail is getting past them!

Tank team builds a ladder so we can climb up on to the seat! No detail is getting past them!

Seat and swinging support beams were attached and the trigger too, so that we would have a beginning point for connecting the Trigger and the Seat.

Madeleine holds the Seat of the way so that Jordan and Maddy can attach the seat!

Madeleine holds the Seat of the way so that Jordan and Maddy can attach the seat!

The first attempt at mounting the Swinging Seat Support revealed that our cross beams needed to be spaced out more and that we had attached the hinges to the support on the wrong side!

The tinkerers quickly got to work making adjustments together!

Meanwhile - the Tank team is preparing the pillows and getting yoga mats for safety!

Jordan gives the pillows a quality control test.

Jordan gives the pillows a quality control test.

Soon, we had a hinged seat resting on a hinged support, which was connected to the trigger's lever arm with paracord all suspended over a pile of pillows and yoga mats! It looked very precarious: the seat was only touching the support on the very tip and those of us that were on the larger side were pretty sure if we sat on that thing it would just snap off. 

And so we entered the all important Safety Testing Phase!

Crash test Stumpy is prepared for its dunking!

Crash test Stumpy is prepared for its dunking!

The tinkerers make a list of dangers we need to observe and secure for it to be safe for humans.

The tinkerers make a list of dangers we need to observe and secure for it to be safe for humans.

Stumpy, didn't break our tank or hit its head on anything, we didn't see or hear any snaps or creaks, so Pearl bravely volunteered to be our first, smallest human test.

Pearl waits in suspense!

Pearl waits in suspense!

It worked! We dunked EVERYONE! It didn't break! IT WORKED!

Today was a particularly special One Day Workshop. We almost never actually finish a project. We are usually tinkering with a project up until we run out of time so it works exactly how we want it too. If we check those first two off it usually breaks while we are playing with it. Wow.

Looking back, I think that this group of tinkerers were especially good at communicating and collaborating with each other, so that everyone knew what jobs needed to get done and so that we could agree on what those jobs were.

With a strong streak of collaboration all of our mistakes that we had to re-do a few times didn't set us back and we all had a really fun day!

For more photos of us tinkering check out the Flickr Album!

Baby you're a firework! Welding workshop 11/6/2016

Metal, Technical Skills, WeldingDee PearceComment

Welding is a skill that really takes practice and time, so it's always amazing to see tinkerers dive in headfirst with no prior training.  We begin by going over our Tinkering School goals and welding group agreements before jumping right in to a technical demonstration with Amanda.  After watching how it's done, the tinkerers take turns welding two pieces of metal together to get the hang of the motor skills of welding before going into the design phase.  Tinkerers sifted through the available metal pieces and started drawing out their project ideas, while thinking about how to make them in 3D with the available pieces.  They figure out their designs and get to work!

Only being able to weld two pieces at a time, tinkerers have to get creative with how they set up their pieces. 

Ideas begin to take shape, but sometimes the tinkerers have to be flexible about changing their ideas slightly to fit with the parameters of the materials.  Collaborators were not cutting any custom metal pieces on the band saw today, so it was up to the tinkerers to figure out how to use the materials given to realize their designs.  Sometimes the material constraints led to even cooler creations!

A lot of the pieces that they could use were quite small, so tinkerers had to be very delicate with their welding.  

The projects began to take form! As tinkerers finished the welding portion, they realized that the welder could leave the metal discolored and lumpy.  To make their pieces look shiny and finished, the tinkerers had at them with files, brushes and good old fashioned elbow grease to polish them up before the arrival of families.

Finally, everyone gets a chance to share their projects with their family and the other tinkerers.

Amazing! who would have thought at the beginning of the day that everyone would become such an accomplished welder in such a short time!

Amazing! who would have thought at the beginning of the day that everyone would become such an accomplished welder in such a short time!

Sparks Fly! Welding workshop 10/29/2016

Metal, Welding, Technical SkillsDee PearceComment
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Welcome to welding! the gang all arrives and we start going over the basics of welding. We like to start welding workshops off by sharing mistakes we've made recently to get ourselves into the mindset that everyone makes them and that's okay. Welding is super tricky and we let everyone know they are going to make a TON of mistakes all day long.

Then we talk safety and get everyone their first feel of welding!

Collaborator Amanda shows us the ropes!

Collaborator Amanda shows us the ropes!

After learning about safety and techniques, everyone starts working on their projects!

Jon finds the perfect pieces from the scrap pile!

Jon finds the perfect pieces from the scrap pile!

Once everyone gets a handle on their designs, they are eager to start welding!  everyone rotates through the welding stations.

After welding the metal pieces together there were some other fun tools that we used to finish up out items: files and grinders helped us polish our pieces and get rid of any extra weld.  Paxton even used washers and nuts to put wheels on his car!

The projects turned out great! by the end of the day, all the tinkerers were able to explain their projects to their parents (and even write on the mistake board!)  It was awesome learning new skills doing something that seemed impossible a mere 5 hours ago!

All Girls Welding Workshop! 10/23/16

All Girls, Metal, Technical Skills, WeldingLindsay JonesComment

Welding workshops start off with a demo of what welding even is!

Look at these pieces of metal melted together!

Look at these pieces of metal melted together!

Ready?! Set. WELD!!

We discuss what safety measures we all need to take and why.

One of the most important rules is to assume that all metal is hot. Why? Because at some point today it was 3,800 degrees!

Everyone feels the heat radiating from the freshly welded metal.

Everyone feels the heat radiating from the freshly welded metal.

Once everyone is suited up it's time to weld!!! Everyone gets a few practice passes to figure out how to control the welder's motions. 

We decided this weld was too fast because they weren't one continuous caterpillar, and the circles were too skinny.

We decided this weld was too fast because they weren't one continuous caterpillar, and the circles were too skinny.

We all become welding detectives and check the welds to figure out if we need to go slower, make bigger circles, get the tip closer, or lots of other tricky adjustments!

Then we weld more!

Then it's time to dig into our brains and the metal tubs and figure out what to create!

Are you going to plan something? Or just starting welding things together?

Some kids were practicing welding super tiny pieces together. Some difficulties reported were: keeping the pieces in place before welding, not being able to see where you want to weld, and melting your tiny piece of metal.

Over at the Experimentation Station, kids were making mistakes and getting really excited about it!

Lucy accidentally melted through her super thin book end and loved it so much she decided to make the whole thing look like "crusty swiss cheese".

The discovery of hole melting was explored by some other kids with thicker metal and they ended up with molten bubbles that looked like volcanos!

As always, we got creative with clamping and connecting our projects into the welding circuit.

Aaaaaaaaaand as always we spent some time figuring out why the welder stopped working. Sometimes they just need some love and a new welding tip. Sometimes we get to open them up and untangle their insides!

Check out all the mistakes we learned from and the sculptures, gifts and furniture we made today!

                      Click here to see more epic welding photos from the workshop!  

                      Click here to see more epic welding photos from the workshop!

 

The Ping Pong Trak!

Open Ended Solution, Problem Solving, Tinkering Challenge, Unusual MaterialsSage RyanComment

Where to start?! What an intimate and productive day with only 5 tinkerers tinkering it up! 

We began the day with our group agreements and Tinkering School Goals..

 

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And some informative tool trainings!

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After snack break, we dove into revealing the project! .... 

The Tinkerers were challenged with getting a ping pong ball from all the way up here...!

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...to the ground and land perfect on a washer. 

The crew got to designing a track that would accomplish the trajectory!

Measuring... 

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Planning..

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Until... 

BUILDING HIT THE TOWN!!

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While the folks above got to work on the center track, some others build support mechanisms for the ultimately angled, towering, ramp.. 

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The project grew and grew! And they worked and worked! Time 4 a lunch break.

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After creating a triangular hookish mechanism to allow the track hang onto the top of the window sill..

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We threw some ropes around the project, and with the biggest possible safety precautions we hoisted the thing up!!

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Finishing up our securements and legs for the track just as parents began to arrive.. the mechanism was deem fit for Ping Pong use!! The hard working tinkerers enjoyed moments of controlled chaos and glee as they rolled the hollow plastic spheres down the enormous ramp that they had labored oh so long upon!! 

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Random Critter Creator

Aesthetic Challenge, Open Ended Design, Problem Solving, Unusual MaterialsLindsay JonesComment

Today, after tool training, with a few rolls of the die we determined we would build together a Creature with:

But before we could build those things, we needed a body to attach them to! The group decided, that because they also really wanted to build a house, the legs should be long enough for us to stand under!

Our group were natural collaborators and before we knew it there we had 4 huge legs!

There were definitely some hickups along the way. Did you know there is more than one way to connect 4 equal length pieces of wood? The legs definitely weren't all exactly the same :)

Isaiah figured out how to stabilize a long piece of wood while his partner was busy cutting!

Then it was time for lunch and a dance party!

We connected the legs together to stabilize them and got ready to add a spine and some ribs!

Meanwhile, some wings were forming in the back of the shop!

Maanasa drew out the wings, so Isaiah could cut them out on the bandsaw!

Maanasa drew out the wings, so Isaiah could cut them out on the bandsaw!

Isaiah cuts the angled tips out.

Isaiah cuts the angled tips out.

This Critter is definitely starting to look house-like.

This Critter is definitely starting to look house-like.

It took everyone of us to lift the spine and ribs and fasten them to the legs, first with clamps, then screws.

Now we could add all the appendages! Everyone worked with each other to help create and attach wings, horns, hairs and abs!

Horns of the softer variety

Horns of the softer variety

After we stopped building and reset the workshop, we recalled the Tinkering School Goals we had introduced that morning:

and reflected on how we had accomplished one or more of them that day by drawing.

"It's a metaphor because that's how high it felt like I was when I was attaching the abs."

"It's a metaphor because that's how high it felt like I was when I was attaching the abs."

Here is Maanasa's drawing of herself trying harder than usual attaching the wings, up high, with tricky washer/screw assemblies.

Here is Maanasa's drawing of herself trying harder than usual attaching the wings, up high, with tricky washer/screw assemblies.

I noticed everyone challenging themselves to continue working on things that were difficult or maybe just not that exciting in the moment. I also heard repeated announcements of "This is such a fun day!" 

See more photos at our Flickr page!

Random Critter Creator - All Girls Workshop

All Girls, Open Ended Design, Unusual MaterialsLindsay JonesComment
IS EVERYBODY READY?!

IS EVERYBODY READY?!

Today we learned.....

How to keep ourselves and our friends safe

How to keep ourselves and our friends safe

That if the wood isn't moving, then you clamped it correctly

That if the wood isn't moving, then you clamped it correctly

That two screws at a joint keeps the wood locked in place.

That two screws at a joint keeps the wood locked in place.

To find out what we would be building today everyone had to roll a die first and write down the number, then pick a body part.

Our Random Critter Creator told us to make a critter with:

Whoa!

Whoa!

Everyone sketched up what they thought the critter should look like. Some were cute, some were round, some were angley. Then we had to figure out how to make it out of wood!

We learned that to figure out how long something is you can use :

a measuring tape!

a measuring tape!

or your Friend!

or your Friend!

We learned that sometimes a partner makes things a little easier and a little more fun.

We learned that sometimes if you want it just like that, it might take a lot of steps and focus.

We learned that to get the adults to work in your assembly line, you have to put a drill in their hand.

We learned why there are different sizes of screws.

And we learned how to work together to make these: 

into a really huge Critter like this:

The 6 fingered, 6 toed, 3 tongued, 2 headed, 5 nosed Critter (6 tummies not pictured)

The 6 fingered, 6 toed, 3 tongued, 2 headed, 5 nosed Critter (6 tummies not pictured)

For more photos from this workshop visit the Flickr page!

Welding One Day Workshop

Metal, Welding, Technical SkillsLindsay JonesComment
Ewon, Axel and Amanda suit up!

Ewon, Axel and Amanda suit up!

We like to start welding workshops off by sharing mistakes we've made recently to get ourselves into the mindset that everyone makes them and that's okay. Welding is super tricky and we let everyone know they are going to make a TON of mistakes all day long.

Then we talk safety and get everyone their first feel of welding!

Axel practices his first welding beads!

Axel practices his first welding beads!

Once everyone understands what welding means and how they are going to do it - we go to the drawing board! Here the tinkerers can see what types of metal stock we have and can draw out their designs showing how they want to use it and how much they'll need!

For some people figuring out what to make is the hardest thing they'll do all day.

Jacob's design for a little robot from a video game he plays.

Jacob's design for a little robot from a video game he plays.

When a design has formed and at least two pieces exist - we can go weld them together!

Jay welds two sides of his box together!

Jay welds two sides of his box together!

Another tricky part of welding is figuring out how to keep your pieces where you want them so that you can weld them together, plus they have to stay part of the electric circuit. We have magnets and clamps and creativity to help us out.

Today everyone wanted to make tiny little detailed objects - something REALLY hard to do!

In addition to figuring out the right pacing, distance, circle width and a bunch of other finicky details to weld we also accidentally welded our projects to the table super well and stuck our projects to the welding wire!

Post welding there are some other fun tools we get to use: the angle grinder to quickly polish and shape your pieces, a file to slowly polish and shape, and Niki got out the wrenches to lock his wheels on the truck he made!

By the end of the day everyone had created a project (or 3) they were excited to take home!

Abracadabra!

Direct Provocation, Interactive, Super SillySage RyanComment

Our brief tool trainings this morning set these tinkerers up to try harder than usual and learn from their mistakes all day long - which makes for confident clampers, drillers and sawyers by the end of the day!

The challenge for the day was to create a set-up to trick our families into think we cut someone in half! Our ideas started out pretty practical and then slowly got weirder and weirder.

I can't explain the schematic to you because a magician never tells, but I think you can tell how ambitious and complex we got.

Then it was finally time to build:

By about this part of the day, we all started to realize that the project had started to turn into something else we didn't quite mean to make. We had several compartments for different body parts to be displayed and we were planning on stacking them on top of one another...... but then what?

When our time had run out - we took a moment to rest and reflect on the whole day: each kid got a piece of paper and drew or wrote about a moment when they had accomplished one of the Tinkering School goals: Collaborating with others, Making mistakes and learning from them, Trying harder than usual, and Building something bigger than ourselves.  Everyone was excited that they had accomplished at least one of those and a lot of kids drew pictures for each goal!

Sophie shared that everyone was so nice and friendly that she ended up working with everyone and lots of fun!

Alisa shared that she kept forgetting to change her drill settings for the job she was doing and eventually remembered to switch the drill speed between drilling holes and driving screws!

Our Safety Check with kids observing while Collaborators strategically increased stress on the different levels of our stack resulted in tinkerers allowed on the leg level and the torso level, but the compartment made to display a head was too tall with not enough stability for any real heads to fill it.

So! Romeo made us a fake head and everyone took turns being the legs and torso of what turned out to be a giant tinkerer made of the smaller ones!

Unfortunately - we lost the photos of the kids and the project, so here are the Collaborators working together to demonstrate our finale result :). 

I think the most magical part of this project was that by the end of the day the project had morphed from an illusion into the best metaphor for "Building something bigger than ourselves" we've built yet.

For more photos from the day visit the Flickr album.

That Dino Needs a Hug <3

Engineering Challenge, Narrative, Problem SolvingSage RyanComment

Another Tinkering season has begun!!!!! 

Today was our first One Day Workshop of the '16/'17 school year!

Lindsay helps Gurneet get to know what will become his favorite tool of the day - the Chopsaw!

Lindsay helps Gurneet get to know what will become his favorite tool of the day - the Chopsaw!

We spent the first part of the morning getting to know each other by inventing Candy Bats and asking each other what kind of candy you'd be made of if you were a Candy Bat - then learning how to use the saw, drills and clamps!

Then time for snack and a challenge!

Dee points out an old friend that's been living in our rafters for awhile...

Dee points out an old friend that's been living in our rafters for awhile...

...A Pterodactyl that's been trying to get a hug from a tinkerer for months!

...A Pterodactyl that's been trying to get a hug from a tinkerer for months!

Todays the day Pterodactyl! You're getting hugged! Todays tinkerers are going to figure out how to meet you up there in the rafters and give you some love!

Niki explains his hovering magnet board.

Niki explains his hovering magnet board.

Lucia suggests we make a peppermint candy bat to fly up there! Or stairs :)

Lucia suggests we make a peppermint candy bat to fly up there! Or stairs :)

Our BrainStorm!

Our BrainStorm!

Niki does the final design drawing of our goal for the day - Giant steps!

Niki does the final design drawing of our goal for the day - Giant steps!

Lucia and Gurneet cut pieces for the team for most of the day!

Lucia and Gurneet cut pieces for the team for most of the day!

Kids keeping track of the cuts!

Kids keeping track of the cuts!

Niki and Dee add triangles for strength!

Niki and Dee add triangles for strength!

Team work!

Team work!

CoopDog shows Sebbie how to use the Chuck Drill!

CoopDog shows Sebbie how to use the Chuck Drill!

Mo' Triangles!

Mo' Triangles!

Gurneet notices a gap!

Gurneet notices a gap!

and fixes it!

and fixes it!

Sebbie strength tests step #1

Sebbie strength tests step #1

Steps #1 and #2 hanging out and getting a step installed.

Steps #1 and #2 hanging out and getting a step installed.

Niki and Sebbie installing a mini step on the Giant step!

Niki and Sebbie installing a mini step on the Giant step!

We worked hard all day.

We worked together all day.

We got to hug a Pterodactyl today.

Our First Ever Rotor Ed Multi-rotor Workshop!

Electronics, Direct Provocation, Mechanical, Interactive, Technical SkillsJay SimpsonComment

After a good amount of saying it was going to happen, the first 2016 Rotor Workshop happened! Five kids walked away with drones that they built and flew and epically crashed.

(All of the drones survived)

DAY 1 - Our goal for the day one, was to have five fully assembled drones for testing, tuning, and flying on day two.

Step one when building a drone: Unbox Your Parts!

After a brief introduction, we started with a Christmas morning-like unboxing of parts, then we split up into two groups. The soldering group and the assembly group. 

Soldering, which was only supposed to take about an hour, took up 3/4 of our day due to three of our irons breaking! In this step, all of the main power wires were connected to the power distribution boards so that the bottom plates of the frames could be attached to the rest of the drones.

RotorEd026.jpg

Meanwhile, the assembly team screwed in their motors, attached their flight controllers, and their receivers. The motor mounting was extremely tricky due to the crazy alignment. Celebration was appropriate when all of the motors were mounted! :)

We took a break for lunch then swapped teams. And at 2:00, we had our first drone power on! 

Oh the relief!

Oh the relief!

And after some more soldering, fitting, and mounting, we had five fully assembled almost ready-to-fly drones at pickup time!

Day 2

On day two, we jumped right into tuning and testing. Once again we split up into two groups, tuning and testing.

The tuning team went with Max, and got started programming their flight controllers. Doing this step ahead of time would allow us to have more flight time...we thought. 

About halfway through tuning the first drone, we realized that the radio controllers would not work due to the pitch and roll axis being reversed. We tried our hardest to get them working, but unfortunately they just wouldn't work.

While two collaborators frantically tried to get them working, everyone else continued tuning and testing their drones.

Every drone got thrown onto the ground to ensure that they were strong, and that all the soldering connections were solid. And finally, after all the drones were tested and tuned, we went flying!

We had an amazing weekend unboxing, assembling, soldering, zip-tying, glueing, flying, and crashing with everyone and can't wait until the next!!!

RotorEd-5-056.JPG

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