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.
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..
And some informative tool trainings!
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...!
...to the ground and land perfect on a washer.
The crew got to designing a track that would accomplish the trajectory!
BUILDING HIT THE TOWN!!
While the folks above got to work on the center track, some others build support mechanisms for the ultimately angled, towering, ramp..
The project grew and grew! And they worked and worked! Time 4 a lunch break.
After creating a triangular hookish mechanism to allow the track hang onto the top of the window sill..
We threw some ropes around the project, and with the biggest possible safety precautions we hoisted the thing up!!
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!!
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."
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?"
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!
As always, find more images on our Flickr account!
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!
Squares, and vertical beams, and ladder rungs, and diagonal supports for structural stability!
A plywood base and vertical railings for safety!
RESETTING THE SHOP
REFLECTING ON OUR DAY
AND PUTING IT ALL TOGETHER!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
You can see SO MANY MORE pictures from the day on our flickr--check it out!
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!
Anyone can launch a ball through the air. Launching a ball with precision requires hard thinking, creative problem-solving, and plenty of perseverance. Today we challenged ourselves to create precision projectile launchers.
We started the day with safety training on the drills and chop saw ("the addition and subtraction of building", to paraphrase Benjamin.)
Then we looked at two different ways to launch projectiles--with an arm that rotates about an axis, and with a spring. Some builders went even further and created a rope-and-pulley cannon-style launcher!
Jonah says "Pull!"
We drew designs over a mid-morning snack, then headed into the workshop!
The vibe today was great, marked by awesome teamwork and a real willingness to take a step backwards and fix mistakes (before they became headaches).
We built a target range with brightly-painted foods dangling from strings and swinging on springs, plus a bullseye with a steel gong!
Many thanks to our young builders--keep on refining your launchers, and remember to aim away from windows!
We built a 12' tall robot today. This mustachioed mechanical fiend was a tinkerer by trade. He had 4 mechanical arms, one with a wrench, one with a power drill, one with a hammer, and one carrying flowers. A 4ft head with a light up eye dominated the skyline as a rolling base modeled after a lumber yard truck allowed him to turn on a dime.
We started the idea with a simple set of exceptionally vague notions. Josh would work with kids to build a body. Sean Would work with kids to build arms. Nikki would lead a team building a head. Lindsay would be our floater and help any team who needed it. Leaving it that simple and wide open gives us just the right structure (we are definitely building a robot) to keep things moving. A structure that help prevent us from doomed tangents and distracting antics.
More importantly it gives us tons of freedom to chase the kids ideas. It allowed us to say yes to the wonderfully oversized head and its amazing antenna, mustache and glowing single eye.
It let us say yes to a four armed tinkering machine that delivers flowers. It let us say yes to an 8ft tall torso, making it one of the larger things we have ever built.
As the day began we practiced with our chop-saw, laying a framework for discussions and opening up potentials.
Drills and saws are to building things as drum and guitar are to making music. You could use more, but you really don't need to.
We began our day by breaking into the 3 teams (head, arms, body). The team working on the head went big and never looked back.
The team working on arms needed all their focus. These would be the most finicky part of the project.
As the body took shape we needed to move outside so we could work on it at different levels simultaneously.
With the arms attached, the head went on and we enjoyed that first beautiful moment when disparate ideas come together to make something bigger and better than any one person or team could have done alone.
With a decidedly complicated software uploaded (totaling 5-10 child pilots at any given time) we set the robot on some tasks. Hammer this. Deliver a flower to that guy. Use the wrench to grab that pole. The team work needed and executed on was something spectacular to behold.