Tinkering School

come make amazing things with us

Problem Solving

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?

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

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!

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.

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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Time to Build a Giant Spider!

Super Silly, Unusual Materials, Problem SolvingJay 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

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!!

All Girls Welding Workshop!!

Welding, All Girls, Problem Solving, Open Ended DesignLindsay JonesComment

 

Today was a good day.

One girl even said that we should call this Fashion Workshop instead of Welding Workshop, because of the fabulous gear and grime smudges we were all wearing.

Welding workshops are a little different than our regular workshops, they are ALL about mistakes. That's basically what we do the whole day, is mess up over and over again.

These kids were excited and afraid and went for it! They asked for help when they needed it and worked on their own when they could.

Everybody really focused and got lots of time at the welders. At the end of the day we had some unique picture frames, platforms, shelves, and presents for little brothers!

Woo Welding!



Swivel Bridge!

Problem Solving, Tinkering Challenge, Engineering Challenge, InteractiveRachel Economy1 Comment

Today, mere hours after a section of the no-longer-in-use half of the old Bay Bridge was carefully imploded as part of its deconstruction process, we at the Tinkering School, with bridges on the brain, decided to design a bridge that would never need to be imploded, because it would be set up to be moved when needed.

 

After getting familiar with the tools and community agreements, we set out to design a bridge that would always start from point A, but could be swivel or shifted somehow so that a bridge crosser could wind up at either point B or point C. A whole range of exciting ideas emerged, condensing into a design for a bridge with a stationary half and an attached mobile half that would be wheeled and would swivel. And then we set to work, and we worked hard right up until the moment parents and families arrived.

Today was amazing because we didn't finish. We chose a really ambitious design, pushed ourselves to try really hard, and didn't settle for something that we weren't excited about. And even though we didn't finish, we met all our Tinkering School goals, and kids also acted super kindly towards one another, and stayed patient and excited about a project they knew they might not get to fully complete. Since this kind of thing happens all the time in life, the skills to be flexible and still collaborate in the face of unexpected delays are definitely great to find, especially while having so much fun.

The R-egg-ulator

Problem Solving, Open Ended Solution, Prototyping, NarrativeLindsay Jones

On Sunday we were expecting a large volume of ping pong eggs to be laid by our Rainbow Ping Pong Chicken.  We figured the best thing to do with a surplus of 200 ping pong eggs was to cook them all into a giant omelette!

After tool training with the chop saw and drills we split into teams to build a coop for the Rainbow Ping Pong Chicken to feel comfortable enough to lay her eggs in, an egg regulator  - so that only one egg would roll down the ramp at a time, a ramp to get the eggs to the pan, and the giant frying pan!

The team figuring out how to actually regulate the eggs leaving the coop and rolling down the ramp had their work cut out for them.  This part of the system had to be very precise.  After meticulously measuring how big the eggs were, thinking and rethinking the design - they got to work on the contraption.

Meanwhile, not only is the giant frying pan taking shape, but that team also has a giant spatula in the works too!

The ramp team has built a nice series of channels for the eggs to roll down. Next they begin to shore them up and do test runs.  They also began another project - a teeter totter to get an egg over a gap.

While a handle is installed on the frying pan and the egg basket is installed inside the coop the egg regulator team is hard at work testing and iterating their design.

Finally! At the end of the day...

The Giant Frying Pan is rolled over the flames! The geniuses of team Giant Frying Pan put casters on the bottom of it so we could keep the pan moving, so the eggs wouldn't burn!

The ramps were in place and the R-egg-ulator was installed. Our first test would be our only test.

With Giant Spatula at the ready the chicken started layin'! Our R-egg-ulator worked about 50% of the time, with two eggs coming out at once if we didn't keep an eye on it.  We got all of the eggs into the frying pan and had a lot of fun cooking them up!

We had a lot of fun taking such a silly situation very seriously with these Tinkerers. They came up with some great solutions and some seriously fun ideas to make the omelette making really entertaining.  We did some serious tinkering as well, with the ramp team getting partially finished with their teeter-totter and the many iterations of the R-egg-ulator.  These girls accomplished a lot in one day!

"She's Never Been to Space Before!"

Tinkering Challenge, Problem Solving, Open Ended DesignLindsay Jones

Today we thought we'd see if we could do a better job than the ESA with putting a lander on a comet.  We figured one day of tinkering would be enough to figure it out. We were even so confident in our skills that we decided we might as well create the comet while we were at it! After tool training we divided up into Lander and Comet teams and went to the drawing boards.

Comet team didn't want things to be too easy for Fillet, so we decided its surface should be rolling. We figured a ramp would be the easiest way to roll the comet. Now we had a ramp and a comet to make!

Meanwhile the Lander team has been hard at work:

When the two teams are ready Fillet and the comet are both sent into orbit!

The first landing attempt fails due to comet deceleration.

A few quick computations from mission control and the ramp adjustments are made! With a few more runs we meet (and dare I say?) exceed the ESA's accomplishment and land Fillet on the comet with a bounce or two and our harpoons functioning!

Mission Fillet Lander from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

We accomplished great things here today with girls of all ages working together and figuring out complicated problems!  We heard a lot of stories from their day and the parents received excited tours of our mission headquarters. Hopefully we'll receive some stories from Fillet as it orbits past us too.

Thanks for your hard work Tinkerers!

November Welding

Welding, Problem Solving, PrototypingLindsay Jones

This Intro to Welding class we got up close and personal with the welder right off the bat.

After everyone got the feel of the welding gun with Diana each person dug around in the scrap bin and started welding things together!

We had some really fun, round scrap pieces to inspire the class and give us some hurdles to work around. Round things only touch flat things in one little spot and are super tricky to clamp, so we got really creative at positioning and also learned how to spot weld.  These pieces were also really rusty. We discovered that the rust makes it really hard to make an arc and this group of tinkerers were amazingly patient; either scrubbing the rust off of their pieces or welding really slowly and attentively.

A lot of really interesting creations evolved out of some welders' practice pieces.  Other people had a clear vision of what they wanted to make when they arrived and they got straight into planning how to make their vision a reality. At the end of the day a group of grinning tinkerers shared their creations and a tricky situation they struggled with while learning to weld. What a satisfying day!

All for One and One Couch For All

All Girls, Interactive, Problem SolvingLindsay Jones

For our second All Girl Workshop we decided to make the Biggest Couch in the World! That way we could all relax together after a long day of hardwork!

Team Side-Arm figured out how we were going to get up on the couch and not fall off the ends.

They got really creative and made a climbing wall for one end and a ladder for the other!

Team Seat-Butt cranked out sections to sit on.

Did we say "sectional"? This couch is gonna be "sectionFULL"!!

Once we figured out how to make one section the tinkerers could split into teams and have several sections in progress at once.

After we framed the couch it was time to make seats!

At the end of the day the two teams attached their sections to make The Biggest Couch In The World! It was interesting to see how the two teams working from the same measurements, made different design choices and turned out ever so slightly different sections.

After a safety test everyone climbed up and enjoyed a well deserved lounge on our custom couch!

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