Tinkering School

come make amazing things with us

Mechanical

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.

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!

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.

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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!!!

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Building an Elephant from the Ground Up - One Day Workshop

Aesthetic Challenge, Direct Provocation, Mechanical, NarrativeEvan 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

Engineering Challenge, Interactive, Mechanical, Problem Solving, Physics, Rope, Tinkering ChallengeJay 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....

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

Direct Provocation, Engineering Challenge, Interactive, Mechanical, Open Ended Solution, Super Silly, Unusual MaterialsJay 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!

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School Improvements - One Day Workshop

Open Ended Design, Mechanical, Direct Provocation, Great Blog, Problem SolvingJay 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!!

Forklift!

Engineering Challenge, Interactive, MechanicalRachel EconomyComment
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It was a sunny morning when we arrived at Tinkering School today, and the energy in the room was calm and curious. Folks had come from down the street, and from as far away as Colorado (!), to collaborate and build together. 

After a solid round of tool trainings and practice, we circled up to learn that our project today was: to build a forklift together!

This immediately led to one of the more complex and layered design sessions I've seen a group work through at the Tinkering School, and they did so with patience and interest, sharing the conversation amongst many people and making some, in my personal opinion, excellent puns ("can we build a giant fork for the fork lift to lift?") The design fleshed out slowly, breaking into three groups who then went into even more detail and began building the car body, the lift and pulley system, and a counterweight system (so our fork-lift wouldn't become a human-squish).

And then the work really started.

And it kept going. And kept going.


Right up until families arrived, tinkerers worked hard, problem-solved unexpected challenges (the bowling ball counterweights are rolling around and rogue-steering the car; the lift mechanism is trying to escape its tracks; this cleat is trying to wiggle away), and held focus and a good attitude towards a mentally fascinating and exhausting set of tinkering problems.

At the end of the day, we talked about specific moments or takeaways that we were going to remember from today. For me, the thing I was most struck by was the level of kind and extremely complex communication tinkerers used with one another today. I love feeling extraneous at the Tinkering School, knowing that I can step back and be a silent safety net, because it means the tinkerers are talking to each other and building together so effectively.

And even when our forklift stuck a little bit at the last minute, folks continued with their friendly attitudes and excitement to problem-solve. Next time maybe we can even lift up some actual forks. 

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And They Gnashed Their Terrible Teeth!!

All Girls, Mechanical, InteractiveLindsay Jones

This last weekend was our first All Girl Tinkering School! We wanted to give young women and girls a unique environment in which to develop their tinkering process and tool use skills.  

As always we started with tool training where everyone practiced using the chopsaw and power drills safely and effectively.

After we get comfortable using the main tools it's time to refuel and figure out how we are going to make........Giant Chompers!!

We determined that chompers have two jaws, two lips, and toooooons of teeeeeeeeeeth!!  A tinkerer pointed out that the boxes the jaws would be made of looked like ladders, which helped us quickly count how many ladders per box and how many boxes per jaw.  One team went to the chopsaw room to start cutting our cross pieces.

While the rest of us prepared to receive them by preparing our materials and having a quick clamp tutorial.

Once our supply of pieces arrive Team Assembly gets to work!

We leave Frompie’s jaw fragments to rest while we eat lunch.  All the chomping that we do inspires us to make teeth! These tinkerers made so many different kinds of teeth in so many ways! Some assembled the jaws while others began their foray into dentistry.

As the day draws to an end we assemble the top jaw and install eye-bolts to attach Frompie’s jaw muscles to a pulley in it’s skull. Lips are applied. Frannie and Lorelei worked on making the hinging mechanism where Frompie’s two jaws meet each other. We put the jaws together as parents arrive and Frompie is so snaggle-toothed that they can barely chomp us a greeting!

Chomp Time from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

We loved watching this group of tinkerers naturally form teams to get jobs done. They figured out how to let each person have a meaningful turn using the chopsaw and we even caught them taking turns doing a particularly challenging task that no one really wanted to do!

Together they easily fit tons of building and tons of fun into just a few hours.

More pictures on the Flickr !

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