Tinkering School

come make amazing things with us

Super Silly

Abracadabra!

Direct Provocation, Interactive, Super SillySage RyanComment

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

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

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

Then it was finally time to build:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more photos from the day visit the Flickr album.

Who Run Da World!? Girls!!

All Girls, Interactive, Narrative, Open Ended Design, Super SillyLindsay 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.

:)

What's An Angler Fish? All Girls Workshop

All Girls, Direct Provocation, Narrative, Super Silly, Aesthetic ChallengeAmanda 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!!!

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!

00001.mp4

Sea Level Rise Proof Pizza Party - One Day Workshop

Narrative, Open Ended Solution, Super Silly, Great BlogCaroline 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!

Spherical Squares

Prototyping, Open Ended Design, Super Silly, Tinkering Challenge, Aesthetic ChallengeLindsay 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!

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! 

 

All Girls Welding Workshop!

All Girls, Welding, Super Silly, MetalPiper AlldredgeComment

The first workshop I ever helped at here at the Tinkering School was a welding workshop, so they hold a special place in my heart. Sparks fly, kids are on the edge of their seats, ears perked, super interested in what exactly is happening when that special yellow-green light is glowing. All Girls Welding Workshops are extra special, because I think they get really close to so many of our goals: nix the jargon, learn a technical skill, and practice so many social emotional skills along the way. 

Lulu (and Ava!) with her giraffe and tree sculpture. Lulu is a welding regular; she started this sculpture at her last workshop a few weeks ago, and brought the head back today to finish making the body.

Lulu (and Ava!) with her giraffe and tree sculpture. Lulu is a welding regular; she started this sculpture at her last workshop a few weeks ago, and brought the head back today to finish making the body.

We started the day with a quick safety overview: heat, UV rays, and electricity. Assume all metal you see is hot today! Give it a quick wave with your hand before touching it. Wear your safety glasses all day! Even at lunch, because UV rays are invisible. While there is a whole lot of electricity moving from one end of this circuit to the other, it's actually pretty hard to get yourself into the circuit. Everybody, make sure to stay dry during this welding workshop, and we should be good. Also, ask your kiddo about the amperage:cars, voltage:road talk. It's one of my favorites to give!

Then, we got started with the real meat of the day: trying welding (some for the first time!), designing a project and getting to work!

Abby, Marisol, Audrey and Amanda get ready for their first times welding.

Abby, Marisol, Audrey and Amanda get ready for their first times welding.

Sophie measures some pieces of 1/2" square tube to see if they will work for her table.

Sophie measures some pieces of 1/2" square tube to see if they will work for her table.

Today was so awesome for this reason: everyone got so much welding done! With 3 welding stations, 9 kiddos was a great number. One welding, 2 on deck. While on deck, kiddos needed to figure out how to setup their work in order to be ready go when their turn arrived. We explained at the beginning of the day that about 90% of welding is just getting your work and your body setup and ready to weld. This means using magnets, clamps, other pieces of metal to, whenever possible, weld in the direction of gravity (flat position) and thinking about where you will rest your non-dominant arm to stabilize your had that is holding the welding gun. These kiddos really took this to heart, and thought through their setup instead of grabbing for the trigger. While this takes a bit of time, it meant we could move through turns really efficiently, which meant kids got lots of time on the welder. Yay!

Addy and Evan working on her pencil box.

Addy and Evan working on her pencil box.

Audrey working on her box; it may or may not help her get her room organized.

Audrey working on her box; it may or may not help her get her room organized.

Then, at the end of the day, everyone did an amazing job helping us clean up. A few even helped us grind the tables clean to be ready for our next welding workshop! Today was the best. What can I say, we really really did it today!

Check out more pictures from today on our Flickr!

 

Crazy Creature!!! One-Day Workshop

Cardboard, Unusual Materials, Open Ended Design, Super SillyCaroline ScanlanComment

Today was the day that we decided to build a CRAZY CREATURE!!!

Recently, a mysterious shipment of large cardboard cargo barrels arrived at the Tinkering School. We've been wondering what on Earth do with them...and today we were hit with a stroke of inspiration upon learning that they were once, in fact, used to transport specimens to The California Academy of Sciences. So Cool! We decided to build a specimen of our own out of those big barrels: a CRAZY CREATURE!!!

We held a design meeting and imagined what it would be like to have different tinkerers working on the three major parts of the creature: Top, Bottom, and Support/Spine. After an initial brainstorm, each tinkerer spent a quiet 10 minutes crafting an initial design for this crazy barrel chimera creature. 

We then split into three build teams, shared our ideas, and decided on a plan. 

Finally, we GOT TINKERING!

TEAM BOTTOM

Design: Hinged legs + feet as well as a braided tail!

TEAM TOP

Design: four folding lever arms, operated by strings that can be pulled from the middle of the creature!

TEAM SPINE/SUPPORT

Design: a central spine attached to a rolling, 4-wheeled base!

Unfortunately we didn't have time to attach all of our appendages and crazy contraptions to the barrel before the day was done.

We did, howeverhave an awesome time explaining our process and our tinkering to the parents who showed up at the end of the day. We may never know what this crazy creature would have looked like with all of its parts put together...but some projects are just better that way :)

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