Tinkering School

come make amazing things with us

Abracadabra!

Sage 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.

That Dino Needs a Hug <3

Sage 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!

Jay 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

Who Run Da World!? Girls!!

Lindsay JonesComment

We were ever so lucky to end our 2015/2016 workshop season with a packed All- Girls Workshop.

We had an great opening circle where we got to know each other by asking "What's the heaviest or most awkward thing you've picked up?" A lot of us have tried to pick up our parents.  Once everyone is feeling a little more comfortable in the space and with their new friends it's time to meet the tools!

Chopsaw!

Chopsaw!

Clamps!

Clamps!

Drills!

Drills!

Then it's time to talk about the project!

As we were settling in to announce the project and start designing I over heard one girl sharing with another "We ran a 5k!" I was pretty impressed, wrote it down and asked everyone what else they do. We quickly had a really great list of things that girls do:

And it was pretty obvious to all of us that girls, if you take all of the ones that exist in the world, do everything.  Which is exactly what our project was going to be: a Beyoncé inspired "Who Run da World? Girls!!"  For that we needed a World and something to make it Run.

These tinkerers are brain storming how to make a globe.

These tinkerers are brain storming how to make a globe.

Another team made a list of things that spin to get some inspiration from.

Another team made a list of things that spin to get some inspiration from.

The kids quickly solved the problem of how to rotate a World - hang from some rope and spin it.  It was so simple, so quick and so easy.  What would we do the rest of the day?! Go watch the Carnival parade!?

Girls are the best.

We decided that we could think of some more complex ideas and try them, just for fun. The hanging rope could be a back up support for testing trickier mechanisms.

By the end of the Design Session we had a World team, a Pyramid stand team, and a Spinning base team.  The best part of the design selection is that we had varying levels of complexity and if they all were completed we could combine them all together!

Time to combine our tool skills and make stuff!

The World decided to make a inner frame and then use wire to create a round outer layer.

The Pyramid team had some complicated angles to figure out and also a stability puzzle to solve!

The Spinning Base group decided we wanted a circle and lots of wheels! Then some handles for all of the girls to spin the World together!

When we had run out of time at the end of the day The World was a really epic frame that looked like a huge jack.

The Pyramid team had finally figured out how to make their angles and supports work, but didn't have enough time to put it together.

The Spinning Base was spinning and had lots of strings for a lot of girls to help rotate it, but we hadn't tested how strong it was and that World looked heavy!

At closing circle everyone shared the challenges that their group faced and how they had collaborated. Today we had a lot of kids floating between projects and helping out each group, which was really cool to see.

We got the World safely clamped to the Spinning Base and as one of the girls pointed out - they walked the world around - so we sent them out into the larger world to run that one.

:)

Building an Elephant from the Ground Up - One Day Workshop

Evan BarnesComment

Watching David Attenborough's new series Africa inspired the collaborators to propose building an elephant as today's one day workshop project! The tinkerers were also stoked on this idea, so today we tried to build the eponymous Attenborough's San Francisco Gray Elephant (Loxodonta attenboria sub. sanfrancisca). 

Before building could begin, we had some tool training in the use of drills and the chop saws, during which some old hands and some new ones alike learned and demonstrated the safe use of the tools. Here, an old friend provides an excellent example of the kind of focus that is necessary when using power tools - his entire world clearly consists of himself and the cut he is making. 

After tool training, we got straight into design. The more we thought about it, the more challenging this particular project seemed. One goal we had was to make the trunk highly articulate, capable of twisting and moving just like a flesh and blood elephant's trunk. Recreating the shape of an elephant also promised to be a unique challenge.  

Below, some members of the head and trunk team talk through their fourth or fifth round of ideas about how to build the head and trunk.

After a solid design period, full of ideas, discussion, and design iterations, we got started building! We decided to build the head by creating a truncated (get it? trunk-ated?) pyramid out of wood as a frame. We planned to attach wire to this internal frame and sculpt it into the shape of an elephant's head, while also using the frame as a solid attachment point for the neck and trunk. However, it turned out that building a small truncated pyramid from 1x2s is a more complex task than we initially thought, and this took longer than planned. That's great, though! We learned something about how hard it is to accurately estimate task completion times. 

Below, two tinkerers conceptually test our trunk design:

We decided to make the trunk from small blocks of wood with ball and socket joints. This required end boring those tiny blocks on the drill press to create the sockets for the steel ball bearings. The team took to this precision task with great ability, and quickly produced all the parts we needed to make our trunk. We originally planned to join the trunk segments with rubber bands that would act like ligaments, holding the sections together across the joints while allowing free movement, but when we couldn't find any rubber bands, we got creative and used wire instead. 

Overall, the day went by quickly, and we were out of build time sooner than we would have liked. The body team also faced some unique design challenges in trying to recreate the shape of an elephant, and after much discussion eventually settled on a design that used an internal frame of wood and rope that was going to support a paper skin. 

The head team also ran out of time, but managed to get a first iteration developed. If we had had more time, we think we could have made a really lifelike elephant with a fully articulated trunk! As it was, though, this was an awesome day full of incredibly creative ideas and excellent collaborative development. We think we did David Attenborough proud! 

Hyperloopin One-Day-Workshop

Jay SimpsonComment

We start every weekend with a good ol' tool training session so everyone can know how to use our tools. We covered building strong joints with screws and making one piece of wood into two by the way of compound miter saws.

Afterwards, we set our sights on the project: to build our own hyperloop (which is a super-fast train)!

We generated tons of ideas for how we could make this happen and things we need to make happen. 

To make our tunnel, we set to work knocking out the bottom of barrels. This was a VERY LOUD PROCESS.

One team decided to work on the tunnel — one that was at an angle to let gravity propel the train car. 

Another team set to building the train car itself - something small enough to be in the tunnel but light and strong enough to be tested. 

 

Another team was working on a gravity/pulley launching system. There was difficulty adding a eyebolt to a wood beam used as an anchor. We put all the heavy things from the shop on top of the beam.

It still failed, even with a railroad track, cement block, and a bag of rocks! We tried to add more things to see how it would work for our final test.

Our last step was band-sawing some plywood into a road surface inside the tunnel. But we couldn't get it to stay in place in the tunnel before our day ended.  

And for our test....

00001.mp4

One Day Welding Workshop - All Girls

Caroline ScanlanComment

There were sparks flyin' at Tinkering School today...eight girls walked out of the building this afternoon with new skills under their belts. They're welders, now!

The welding workshops are pretty different than the wood-based One-Day Workshops... because, well, metal is much different than wood. Also! Unlike our more team-built wooden projects, welding is really hard to play as a team sport.

This means a few things:

  1. We have to translate our Tinkering School goals (building something bigger than yourself, learning from failure, collaborating and making friends, and trying harder than usual) into a curriculum where solo technical skills are being practiced. (Today, we admitted that really, welding workshops are all about failing once, failing twice - failing a lot of times - and learning from those mistakes!)
  2. Also, the kids are (usually) making individual projects. (Which makes the failure goal kinda hard. Hey kid, get really attached to this project -- and oh, by the way, you're probably going to fail at making it.)
  3. And! Even though these are solo jams, we gotta share the equipment. We have 3 welders to share. This means a lot of the day's learning is based on watching other people try really, really hard.

By the end of the day, everyone had transformed a pile of steel scraps into a  unique project of their own design. Many of the welders used the drill press to drill holes into their work, and most of them used the grinder to smooth edges, cut off small pieces of steel, and correct mistakes. Oh, and everyone made loads of mistakes! We even had a chance at the end of the afternoon to share our favorite mistakes of the day. This unique opportunity to normalize failure as a crucial part of the learning process is one of the things we value most at Tinkering School. 

Via the collective mistakes of the day, these new welders learned that:

  • Freshly welded metal is hot to touch
  • We should always remember to pull our hoods down before starting to weld and drape the welder over the table when we're done, so as to not accidentally pull the trigger!
  • The drill press speed needs to be adjusted for different drill bits
  • Sometimes you can grind your welding project into two pieces by accident
  • Sometimes you might weld your steel pieces into the wrong place. It's okay to start over.
  • Mistakes are normal and useful and great.
  • They could make cool, functional, and whacky stuff out of steel (!!!)

You can check out even more awesome photos from the day by checking out our Flickr album.

What's An Angler Fish? All Girls Workshop

Amanda SimonsComment

I got to spend my Sunday with seven rad girls who were really excited about building some awesome stuff. This is usually the first sentence of any All Girls Workshop blog that I write, and today was, of course, no different! However -- the thing that made today especially unique, was that I didn't really have any idea what the thing we were building actually looked like.

Actually, let me back up. This sounds no different than usual. In these workshops, the Collaborators come up with a rough theme before the kids arrive, and then during the workshop the kids are the visionaries of the project. They tell us what it should look like and how to make it, and we jump in where we can help and also provide technical advice to make the thing safely come to life. 

So, let me clarify. When Lindsay, Caroline, and I sat down and tried to think of the workshop theme, Lindsay and Caroline said "Let's make an angler fish!" And Amanda said, "I don't know what that looks like. How am I going to help lead this?" They both tried to describe what the thing looked like, and after their description, I had a general idea, but still couldn't quite associate a visual with all those words. 

Perfect!

I asked the kids to make an angler fish today so that I could forever associate a visual with the description. 

This is what happened:

We brainstormed and made individual drawings of the fish critter. From there, we figured out what all the illustrations had in common. 

We brainstormed and made individual drawings of the fish critter. From there, we figured out what all the illustrations had in common. 

And then, we picked a place to start. Because the materials we were working with were really good at making cubey things and not real great at making round things, we started with a cube for a fish body. After the cube, we could easily add on. 

And then, we picked a place to start. Because the materials we were working with were really good at making cubey things and not real great at making round things, we started with a cube for a fish body. After the cube, we could easily add on. 

Building the cube meant we had to learn about other tools along the way. Clamp training was done as we went along. We also used some assembly squares to help keep right angles and hold the wood in place. 

Building the cube meant we had to learn about other tools along the way. Clamp training was done as we went along. We also used some assembly squares to help keep right angles and hold the wood in place. 

It's worth noting that a 4 foot by 4 foot by 4 foot cube is actually quite big and awkward to move around. 

It's worth noting that a 4 foot by 4 foot by 4 foot cube is actually quite big and awkward to move around. 

This fish has jaws, and that meant movement. We chose some hinges to help out -- or, rather, to help us make mistakes. The jaw was actually quite tricky to attach, and the jaw-making team had to redo the hinge placement three times before arriving at a functional solution. 

This fish has jaws, and that meant movement. We chose some hinges to help out -- or, rather, to help us make mistakes. The jaw was actually quite tricky to attach, and the jaw-making team had to redo the hinge placement three times before arriving at a functional solution. 

In the end, the Tinkerers decided to get eaten by the fish. 

In the end, the Tinkerers decided to get eaten by the fish. 

And, I present to you... Angler Fish! (Complete with disco light attachment). 

And, I present to you... Angler Fish! (Complete with disco light attachment). 

Thanks, Friends. I am forever going to associate this visual with "angler fish"!

Check out more angles of our awesome Angler Fish by browsing Flickr!

Quick, the giants are coming! Launch the pancakes!!!

Jay SimpsonComment

THIS WAS THE MOMENT WE WERE ALL LOOKING FORWARD TO! ... to test our pancake launcher against the mean, hungry giants!

So how did we get here? Well, it was a super productive day right from the very beginning. Like every Tinkering School workshop, we start out with tool trainings. Below, we all got to use the compound miter saw (aka chop saw). 

We also practiced drilling! Here's Zen crushing it.

After tool training we dove right into project design. We heard a crazy story about creatures who lived here long ago and their fight against giants! To survive, they had to fling pancakes at them! So how were we going to prepare for the giants? How would we fling our pancakes???

We came up with a ton of ideas:

And ultimately decided on a catapult, broke into teams, and got started!

We were super stoked to also learn how to use the circular saw! YEAAAAAAAHHHHH!

Henry: "We probably don't need this." 
Me: "Yep, you're right."
LOLs

Here's almost everyone lending a hand so we could thread our axel across the supports. So cool to see it all coming together!

Entire group: "We need something super heavy to weigh it down!"
Me: "How about this segment of railroad track?"
(Places track in)
Me: "How do we feel about this? Is this safe?"
EVERYONE: "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO"

We changed the weight to be a stack of wood screwed into the base.

We needed targets. Grace drew us a cheetah.

Zen drew a vampire.

So how did it turn out??? Watch below!

00001.mp4

Sea Level Rise Proof Pizza Party - One Day Workshop

Caroline ScanlanComment

Imagine this: the Earth is the getting warmer. The sea levels are rising. San Francisco is slowly flooding with salty water. The Twin Peaks are turning into the Twin Islands. The Mission is currently sitting under six feet of San Francisco Bay. And yet...we still want to be able to hold a pizza party! 

Today, we imagined what we might build in order to throw a Sea Level Rise Proof Pizza Party!

But first, before practiced using the essential tools in the Tinkering School Shop! Drills! Chopsaws!

After unleashing our whacky theme for the day, each tinkerer had the chance to brainstorm their own individual solutions  to this particular pizza-party-over-a-rising-sea challenge! Everyone shared their thoughts with the group before we narrowed down a concrete design and plan to start building

Check out all of these fun ideas! As a team, we collected so many!

Here's what the final blue print looked like - an eight foot tower with a pizza party platform on top:

We split up into two groups - the tower team and the platform team - and we built, built, built!

TOWER TEAM

Squares, and vertical beams, and ladder rungs, and diagonal supports for structural stability! 

PLATFORM TEAM

A plywood base and vertical railings for safety!

RESETTING THE SHOP

REFLECTING ON OUR DAY

AND PUTING IT ALL TOGETHER!

One Day Welding Workshop

Amanda SimonsComment

The Welding Workshops are by far my favorite. They are much different than the wood-based One-Day Workshops... because, well, metal is much different than wood. Also! Unlike our more team-built wooden projects, welding is really hard to play as a team sport.

This means a few things:

  1. We have to translate our Tinkering School goals (building something bigger than yourself, learning from failure, collaborating and making friends, and trying harder than usual) into a curriculum where solo technical skills are being practiced.
  2. Also, the kids are (usually) making individual projects. (Which makes the failure goal kinda hard. Hey kid, get really attached to this project -- and oh, by the way, you're probably going to fail at making it.)
  3. And! Even though these are solo jams, we gotta share the equipment. We have 3 welders to share. This means a lot of the day's learning is based on watching other people try really, really hard. 

These constants are challenges, and they make the workshops interesting for both the Collaborators and the Tinkerers. Challenging, interesting -- but so fun and fulfilling. 

Because I like lists almost as much as I like Welding Workshops, here are some of my favorite moments:

  1. Watching someone who's never welded before lay down their first bead of metal.
  2. Telling the welder that they messed up, and then asking them to figure out why.
  3. Explaining that this is a process about practicing how to hold your body and not about making things.
  4. Helping kids use really strong magnets when everything around the magnets is steel.
  5. Brushing off a fresh weld and watching it change color.
  6. Seeing all the cool stuff (that I would never think to make!) get made in such a short period of time.  
  7. Witnessing how excited everyone always is at the end of the day. This is a really tough skill to do well, and again today, everyone rocked it!

Check out all the photos from the day by browsing our Flickr Album!

Spherical Squares

Lindsay JonesComment

We start tinkering mornings off with getting to know the space...

the tools...

and each other.  

We try and build opportunities to practice working together and asking and giving help into our tool trainings, so that when we get down to work all of those things come a little easier.

This workshop's project was a pretty tricky challenge. So tricky that I heard a kid say, "This is impossible!"  We were going to try and make a sphere out of squares and cubes!

After talking as a group through some of the ideas that first came to mind, everyone felt more confident that we could probably figure this out and we each drew up a design. Then we all shared our ideas with the group and grouped them into similar designs. We still had a long list of options, so the group decided that we should pick 2 designs based on simplicity, because we were running out of building time!

Designs so far: Snowflake, Layer-Cube, Waffles. Caspar explains his design, which we call Support-Ice creamcone.

Designs so far: Snowflake, Layer-Cube, Waffles. Caspar explains his design, which we call Support-Ice creamcone.

The grand plan was to build one hemisphere out of the Cube-Snowflake design and another hemisphere out of the Cube-Layer design and then if all went well we could combine them together into one Sphere!

To work!

Rin and Belle work together to collect wood that is the size we need and is already cut from previous projects!

Rin and Belle work together to collect wood that is the size we need and is already cut from previous projects!

Casper, Alex and Evan figure out how to use the clamps and a square to make a nice square corner.

Casper, Alex and Evan figure out how to use the clamps and a square to make a nice square corner.

Each group had to continuously assess their project to make sure their plan was working, if it wasn't they made adjustments!

Team Cube-Snowflake realized mid building, that they should connect their inner-mini-cube to the big one, so that it didn't move around. They also worked really well together in a tight space to get the mini-cube finished, while communicating with each other to share tools and materials, and not accidentally hurt each other!

Team Cube-Layer had to figure out what sizes the different cubes needed to be and then the best way to attach them together.

Towards the end of the day the Cube-Snowflake team realized that they needed to add the snowflake - the key part of making it look spherical, but we were running out of time!! We decided to clamp the flake arms on and just use long scraps, attaching them where they looked best, instead of cutting specific lengths of wood, which would take a long time.

Team Cube-Layer assembles their 2 biggest layers at the end of the day.

Team Cube-Layer assembles their 2 biggest layers at the end of the day.

The Cube-Layer team worked together to attach the two biggest layers together, and already had the pieces cut for two more layers, but we were out of time!!!

Team Cube-Snowflake discuss how spherical their design actually turned out.

Team Cube-Snowflake discuss how spherical their design actually turned out.

At the end of the day we were all sad that we had run out of time, because each group was feeling really good about how their designs were looking and they had ideas for what their next steps would be if they had 5 more minutes, 30 more minutes, or even 3 more hours!

We had figured out how to do the impossible!!!

Time to Build a Giant Spider!

Jay SimpsonComment

Because, I ask you, why not?!?

This was a great, whacky, weekend workshop. Tons of fun ideas, lots of time spent building, and we did so many things! We'll start from the beginning...

After getting to know each other and learning the Tinkering School goals and community agreements, we got to know the tools — namely, the chop saw (compound miter saw) and the power drills. Then we dove into project design and conceptual tinkering!

After some sketching, we realized that one of our ideas — to control the movement of the spider from inside its barrel body — needed to be tested. How many kids can really fit in a barrel?? One. (Really). After we made our plans we attacked the wood and got started!

Our teams started making legs, cutting a face for the slider out of plywood, and making a spider-silk spool to go on the spider body. 

Lastly, we worked together to make all of our legs attach to the barrel body. 

Unfortunately, we didn't finish our spider (so it looked like a squashed spider) but we had a great time working right up until the end of our presentation and sharing circle!

Our final thoughts from today: "ALL of it was fun!" Building a giant spider certainly fun, mistakes happened, and we all had a great time building! 

 

School Improvements - One Day Workshop

Jay SimpsonComment

As every Tinkering School workshop begins, we learn about making one piece of wood into two, and taking two pieces of wood and fixing them together! We even did strength testing to put our projects to the test!

If you've ever been to Tinkering School, you'll know that our workshop is a special space, built by collaborators and tinkerers alike. Its colorful, wonky, and totally unique. You may have also found out that it is a perpetual work-in-progress—always changing and improving! Today, we set out with a group of awesome tinkerers to make our storage area safer (railings! what a totally rad and safe idea!) and better (a storage elevator to help us lift things to the second floor storage!). 

Our designing process got really deep and complex! We came up with all sorts of ideas and really thought them through as we shared our proposals. Ultimately, we used a bunch of our ideas together to make a rough plan.

Then we got to building! One project was to make something maybe never done before at Tinkering School: use lap joints to make 8ft lumber into 12ft lumber! So awesome to see. We also built the base of our elevator.

Are you wondering "what is a lap joint?" Well, one version of it is joining two pieces of wood that are cut like the photo below, helping the wood be longer but not adding any extra width or depth to the joint! 

Take two of these (stacked to face each other), some wood glue, and a bunch of screws and guess what - you have a lap joint!

Take two of these (stacked to face each other), some wood glue, and a bunch of screws and guess what - you have a lap joint!

While we were working, another group was working away on the railing project. Instantly someone shared "triangles are the strongest shape - we should make lots of Xs!" From there, they got cutting and then laid out the railing on the floor to double check their work. Brilliant!  

As a bonus today, we got to use the circular saw to make some plywood cuts! So awesome to use so many different types of tools today.

And while our elevator didn't come to completion, our railing did — which is totally rad and will help keep future tinkerers (and collaborators) safe!!! AWESOME!!

Tie those shoes! - One Day Workshop - All Girls - 4.9.2016

Piper AlldredgeComment

I think it's important to point out that the brainstorm for this workshop started a bit like this.

Suffice it to say, we LOVE all girls workshops! They're such a great introduction to the space, materials, instructors and pedagogy here at 1960 Bryant St., and today was no exception. 

We decided to go with a challenge for today's workshop: tie a pair of shoes from 10' away. Holy woah. 

The day started like any other: some coffee talk around the nametag table, then we spent some time practicing with the tools we'd be using for the rest of the day.

Lily mindfully practices using the chopsaw.

Lily mindfully practices using the chopsaw.

All of us practicing drillz together.

All of us practicing drillz together.

Then we ate some snacks and talked about tying shoes from far away and then started playing with rope and chopsticks to see if we could tie shoes with less than 5 fingers. It was pretty silly and fun!

Lindsay, Amanda, Olivia and Anna try to tie a length of paracord around a water bottle just using pencils as chopsticks.

Lindsay, Amanda, Olivia and Anna try to tie a length of paracord around a water bottle just using pencils as chopsticks.

At some point we decided we should actually decide what the steps are to tie shoelaces.

At some point we decided we should actually decide what the steps are to tie shoelaces.

We decided that we needed to split into two teams: one to work on making 'hands,' and one to work on making a structure to support the hands and arms. Then we got to work!

Olivia, Beatrice and Sophia figure out what the hands actually need to do: grab, pinch, and stick. 

Olivia, Beatrice and Sophia figure out what the hands actually need to do: grab, pinch, and stick. 

Here's an early design drawing of the structure to hold the 'arms.'

Here's an early design drawing of the structure to hold the 'arms.'

After eating some lunch, we got back to work, and got down to the real down and dirty of tying knots with (basically) long sticks. In the end, what we really needed to do was PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. 

Olivia and Sophia became veritable pros at tying knots using long sticks!

Olivia and Sophia became veritable pros at tying knots using long sticks!

Meanwhile, Anna, Rhea, Lindsay and Lily finished up assembling the 'shoulders.'

Meanwhile, Anna, Rhea, Lindsay and Lily finished up assembling the 'shoulders.'

Lily finishes up adding some supports to the frame of the shoulders.

Lily finishes up adding some supports to the frame of the shoulders.

After working really hard on all of the pieces, we upgraded from short to long chopsticks, and had loads of time to practice trying really hard to tie knots using our long chopsticks.

Sophia, Amanda, Olivia and Beatrice try to pass the loop through to finish up tying my shoes. It was so great how so many girls jumped in to help lift up the weight of the chopsticks to help the lace-tiers out. 

Sophia, Amanda, Olivia and Beatrice try to pass the loop through to finish up tying my shoes. It was so great how so many girls jumped in to help lift up the weight of the chopsticks to help the lace-tiers out. 

You can see SO MANY MORE pictures from the day on our flickr--check it out!

Spring Break Camp 2016 - Day 5

Amanda SimonsComment

Oh, hey Team!
My name is Amanda. Nice to meet you. Today is my first day here. I know you all have been building some rad stuff all week, but actually, I don't have any idea what's going on. Jeremy called in sick this morning, and I'm his sub.

So...

...can you explain to me what you're making?
...what do you have left to do?
...what exactly are the goals here?

Ooohhh... it's April Fools Day. All these projects are illusions. Got it. 

Project One: a flying carpet. 

You have a carpet, and a frame, but are working on levitating it from behind some sort of frame. You need to make a seat for someone to sit on? Easy. We can do that in an afternoon. Let's make a plan. 

What's the second project?

M.C. Escher stairs? Okay. Yup, I know what those are. It seems like you got a lot of work left to do.

(Admittedly, I was a little nervous about this one. When I got there on Friday morning, it was a ramp and a pile of wood on the floor.)

...by the end of the day though, created a pretty impressive (and stable!) contraption.

Project 3: A Fruit Stand. 

Having been dropped into this workshop without any context, I spent the whole day trying to figure out what this had to do with April Fool's Day. It seemed like a pretty stable structure, and by the end of the day, the Tinkerers were "selling" fruit and other edible wares 

Spring Break Camp 2016 - Day 4

Lindsay JonesComment
Ella uses a hand saw to cut a specialty piece.

Ella uses a hand saw to cut a specialty piece.

Today was about details!

Alex connects the ramp sides together.

Alex connects the ramp sides together.

The Escher Stair team started and finished ramps today, with complicated angles.  

We measure fabric to see if there is enough to cover all of the walls.

We measure fabric to see if there is enough to cover all of the walls.

The Magic Grow Room team had to figure out what kind of material to use to sheath the wall frames with. We measured plywood, paper and then fabric and decided to use the fabric because there was a lot of it and it was silky.

Cecile records the dimensions of the fabric.

Cecile records the dimensions of the fabric.

Clarise snips a hole in the fabric so the screws don't get tangled in it!

Clarise snips a hole in the fabric so the screws don't get tangled in it!

The fabric is super tricky to use, so the kids had to be very careful while attaching it.  They formed teams to cut a hole in the right spot and then drill a hole without twisting the fabric into the drill. Then assemble a washer and screw pair to secure the fabric in place. phew!

The Magic Carpet's magic starts to appear!

The Magic Carpet's magic starts to appear!

The Magic Carpet started some beautiful pattern artwork on the carpet they sewed!

Spring Break Camp 2016 - Day 3

Lindsay JonesComment
Alex does some upside down assembly.

Alex does some upside down assembly.

Pascal and Ella make supports together.

Pascal and Ella make supports together.

Anton, Ryan and Ryan attach plywood sides to the box they finished framing!

Anton, Ryan and Ryan attach plywood sides to the box they finished framing!

Gautam, Alex and Lana put leg supports on their stairway!

Gautam, Alex and Lana put leg supports on their stairway!

Today the tinkerers ooooooozed confidence.  Everywhere we looked there were small teams of kids working on projects without any need of an adult.  These kids knew what they were working on, what needed to get done, and how to do it.

Ayden and Eli finish framing the Fruit Stand.

Ayden and Eli finish framing the Fruit Stand.

They had so much confidence that they decided that something new needed to be built.

And then they built it.

The Magic Carpet had a crew working on a crate of fruit inspired from the market scene in the movie Aladdin. The kids decided it didn't really make sense to have a random fruit crate laying around, so there needed to be a Fruit Stand.

Ayden shows Eli how to put the finish washer and screws together to attach the awning.

Ayden shows Eli how to put the finish washer and screws together to attach the awning.

Ayden has been a great partner to other tinkerers and giving demos on how to install new hardware to his group. Today he took lead on this Fruit Stand and with the help from other kids, who trickled in from other groups through-out the day, they conceived of and finished it!

When they were ready to add walls to the frame, instead of waiting around for a Collaborator to be available to supervise them on the Band Saw, they found scraps that fit their needs and used those instead.

A sign from a long ago project named the creation the "Red Band Fruit Stand". More tinkerers were drawn over by the creative buzz of Kid Power and started organizing what kinds of snacks and drinks they could bring from home to stock the Fruit Stand.  They decided they could donate provisions to sell, so they could donate to Tinkering School.

And look at this Amazing Fruit Crate!!!

Spring Break Camp 2016 - Day 2

Lindsay JonesComment
Maelys builds iteration 2 of our magic grow room prototype.

Maelys builds iteration 2 of our magic grow room prototype.

Tuesdays are when we get ourselves into gear. Monday left us all revved up and ready to go, but we still need some practice with the drills and to make real plans for what we are really going to build.

Gautam and Zach clamp and attach pieces of the stairs they are making.

Gautam and Zach clamp and attach pieces of the stairs they are making.

The Escher Stairway decided to wrap their minds around regular stairs, before they tried to get really crazy. They began to build a stairway based on the models around our space.

Magic Carpet prototype!

Magic Carpet prototype!

The Magic Carpet team began some prototyping for the illusion part of their project, while others began making things to distract you!

Alex measures the angles of one side of the stairs.

Alex measures the angles of one side of the stairs.

The Stair Team finished two halves of the supports and then compared them to see if they would match up.

Alex declares, "NOT GOOD ENOUGH."

Alex declares, "NOT GOOD ENOUGH."

The kids decided that the first attempt wasn't up to snuff and they should correct their angles.  Having them observe and decide on their own that the project should be improved is so great and it also gives them more opportunities to practice their tool skills!

Clarice and Lana show us how big the chair is actually going to be. Whoa.

Clarice and Lana show us how big the chair is actually going to be. Whoa.

The Magic Grow Room team had some kids working on furniture for inside the room and some prototyping the room itself, with kids deciding for themselves if they felt like building or hard thinking. They communicated with each other, so that there was always a few brains and hands on each team.

 

By the end of the day things were definitely coming together.

Spring Break Camp 2016 - Day 1

Lindsay JonesComment
Odessa and Zachary help each other make a Clampamajig

Odessa and Zachary help each other make a Clampamajig

Pascal and Ayden worked together in drill training to make an arrow!

Pascal and Ayden worked together in drill training to make an arrow!

Ryan practices his chop-saw technique.

Ryan practices his chop-saw technique.

We started off this week with basic tool training on the drills, chopsaw, and clamps. What can't you do with those tools and a group of friends?!  After the kids spent the whole morning learning how to use 3 new tools and each others names they went off to play at the park. 

Caroline challenges our brainz

Caroline challenges our brainz

When the kids get back from the park they STILL DON'T KNOW what the project is!!!! Instead of telling us the theme of the week right away, Caroline asked us if we thought she could cut a hole in a piece of paper that she could fit her whole body through.

"No way."

Caroline blows our minds.

Caroline blows our minds.

We then watched Caroline make several small cuts in her paper until she opened it to reveal a ring of paper big enough that she could fit her whole body through! She showed us how our brains are used to assuming how things work and therefore how easy it is to trick them!

This week's theme is inspired by Friday: April Fool's day and we are going to try our hardest to create optical illusions to trick our families eyes and minds on Friday!  The projects so far are: a Flying Carpet, an Escher Stairway, and a Magic Grow Room.

We spent the afternoon designing...

Prototyping...

Brainstorming with wood...

Exploring materials...

P1050905.JPG

And helping out our team mates.

Because of the explicit trickery in this week's projects, we started out with some deep, deep thinking about perspective, vanishing points, eyeballs, and squid camouflage.  These kids are super committed to making things look and work right this week and we are excited to see them already focussing harder and planning their iterations!

Tinkering School is a trademark registered in the US Patent and Trademark Office.