Tinkering School

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Technical Skills

Welding Workshop!

Welding, Technical Skills, MetalLindsay JonesComment
Lucy does her first weld all on her own, even though she was really nervous!

Lucy does her first weld all on her own, even though she was really nervous!

We started the day off learning how welding works, how we work the welding, and how to be safe!

We all agreed to share welding techniques, design ideas and mistakes we overcame with each other all day.  Then everyone got to practice welding on a flat piece of metal to get the hang of it, before we started joining pieces together!

Here we see a weld with zigzags that are too far apart, one that was too fast, and one that was fast then slow!

Here we see a weld with zigzags that are too far apart, one that was too fast, and one that was fast then slow!

After kids had a good idea of to use the welder, they brainstormed and designed, then re-designed then got to welding!

Welding is 90% set up and 10% welding. Here are some cool set-ups the kids did today.

Some projects needed curved pieces, so we heated them up with blowtorches and bent it with giant wrenches!

Everyone did a great job of sticking with it through scared feelings, finicky machines that needed love, tricky weld set-ups and time constraints. By the end of the day we had all these beautiful projects:

This workshop was a great mixed age group of kids! They collaborated through out the day, even though they were all working on independent projects.  They made sure their fellow tinkerers were getting equal welding time and helped each other figure out problems. Then they all helped reset the tools and stations when we were all finished! What a dream!

We have tons more pictures of the kids melting steel over Flickr

Baby you're a firework! Welding workshop 11/6/2016

Metal, Technical Skills, WeldingDee PearceComment

Welding is a skill that really takes practice and time, so it's always amazing to see tinkerers dive in headfirst with no prior training.  We begin by going over our Tinkering School goals and welding group agreements before jumping right in to a technical demonstration with Amanda.  After watching how it's done, the tinkerers take turns welding two pieces of metal together to get the hang of the motor skills of welding before going into the design phase.  Tinkerers sifted through the available metal pieces and started drawing out their project ideas, while thinking about how to make them in 3D with the available pieces.  They figure out their designs and get to work!

Only being able to weld two pieces at a time, tinkerers have to get creative with how they set up their pieces. 

Ideas begin to take shape, but sometimes the tinkerers have to be flexible about changing their ideas slightly to fit with the parameters of the materials.  Collaborators were not cutting any custom metal pieces on the band saw today, so it was up to the tinkerers to figure out how to use the materials given to realize their designs.  Sometimes the material constraints led to even cooler creations!

A lot of the pieces that they could use were quite small, so tinkerers had to be very delicate with their welding.  

The projects began to take form! As tinkerers finished the welding portion, they realized that the welder could leave the metal discolored and lumpy.  To make their pieces look shiny and finished, the tinkerers had at them with files, brushes and good old fashioned elbow grease to polish them up before the arrival of families.

Finally, everyone gets a chance to share their projects with their family and the other tinkerers.

Amazing! who would have thought at the beginning of the day that everyone would become such an accomplished welder in such a short time!

Amazing! who would have thought at the beginning of the day that everyone would become such an accomplished welder in such a short time!

Sparks Fly! Welding workshop 10/29/2016

Metal, Welding, Technical SkillsDee PearceComment
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Welcome to welding! the gang all arrives and we start going over the basics of welding. We like to start welding workshops off by sharing mistakes we've made recently to get ourselves into the mindset that everyone makes them and that's okay. Welding is super tricky and we let everyone know they are going to make a TON of mistakes all day long.

Then we talk safety and get everyone their first feel of welding!

Collaborator Amanda shows us the ropes!

Collaborator Amanda shows us the ropes!

After learning about safety and techniques, everyone starts working on their projects!

Jon finds the perfect pieces from the scrap pile!

Jon finds the perfect pieces from the scrap pile!

Once everyone gets a handle on their designs, they are eager to start welding!  everyone rotates through the welding stations.

After welding the metal pieces together there were some other fun tools that we used to finish up out items: files and grinders helped us polish our pieces and get rid of any extra weld.  Paxton even used washers and nuts to put wheels on his car!

The projects turned out great! by the end of the day, all the tinkerers were able to explain their projects to their parents (and even write on the mistake board!)  It was awesome learning new skills doing something that seemed impossible a mere 5 hours ago!

All Girls Welding Workshop! 10/23/16

All Girls, Metal, Technical Skills, WeldingLindsay JonesComment

Welding workshops start off with a demo of what welding even is!

Look at these pieces of metal melted together!

Look at these pieces of metal melted together!

Ready?! Set. WELD!!

We discuss what safety measures we all need to take and why.

One of the most important rules is to assume that all metal is hot. Why? Because at some point today it was 3,800 degrees!

Everyone feels the heat radiating from the freshly welded metal.

Everyone feels the heat radiating from the freshly welded metal.

Once everyone is suited up it's time to weld!!! Everyone gets a few practice passes to figure out how to control the welder's motions. 

We decided this weld was too fast because they weren't one continuous caterpillar, and the circles were too skinny.

We decided this weld was too fast because they weren't one continuous caterpillar, and the circles were too skinny.

We all become welding detectives and check the welds to figure out if we need to go slower, make bigger circles, get the tip closer, or lots of other tricky adjustments!

Then we weld more!

Then it's time to dig into our brains and the metal tubs and figure out what to create!

Are you going to plan something? Or just starting welding things together?

Some kids were practicing welding super tiny pieces together. Some difficulties reported were: keeping the pieces in place before welding, not being able to see where you want to weld, and melting your tiny piece of metal.

Over at the Experimentation Station, kids were making mistakes and getting really excited about it!

Lucy accidentally melted through her super thin book end and loved it so much she decided to make the whole thing look like "crusty swiss cheese".

The discovery of hole melting was explored by some other kids with thicker metal and they ended up with molten bubbles that looked like volcanos!

As always, we got creative with clamping and connecting our projects into the welding circuit.

Aaaaaaaaaand as always we spent some time figuring out why the welder stopped working. Sometimes they just need some love and a new welding tip. Sometimes we get to open them up and untangle their insides!

Check out all the mistakes we learned from and the sculptures, gifts and furniture we made today!

                      Click here to see more epic welding photos from the workshop!   

                      Click here to see more epic welding photos from the workshop!

 

Welding One Day Workshop

Metal, Welding, Technical SkillsLindsay JonesComment
Ewon, Axel and Amanda suit up!

Ewon, Axel and Amanda suit up!

We like to start welding workshops off by sharing mistakes we've made recently to get ourselves into the mindset that everyone makes them and that's okay. Welding is super tricky and we let everyone know they are going to make a TON of mistakes all day long.

Then we talk safety and get everyone their first feel of welding!

Axel practices his first welding beads!

Axel practices his first welding beads!

Once everyone understands what welding means and how they are going to do it - we go to the drawing board! Here the tinkerers can see what types of metal stock we have and can draw out their designs showing how they want to use it and how much they'll need!

For some people figuring out what to make is the hardest thing they'll do all day.

Jacob's design for a little robot from a video game he plays.

Jacob's design for a little robot from a video game he plays.

When a design has formed and at least two pieces exist - we can go weld them together!

Jay welds two sides of his box together!

Jay welds two sides of his box together!

Another tricky part of welding is figuring out how to keep your pieces where you want them so that you can weld them together, plus they have to stay part of the electric circuit. We have magnets and clamps and creativity to help us out.

Today everyone wanted to make tiny little detailed objects - something REALLY hard to do!

In addition to figuring out the right pacing, distance, circle width and a bunch of other finicky details to weld we also accidentally welded our projects to the table super well and stuck our projects to the welding wire!

Post welding there are some other fun tools we get to use: the angle grinder to quickly polish and shape your pieces, a file to slowly polish and shape, and Niki got out the wrenches to lock his wheels on the truck he made!

By the end of the day everyone had created a project (or 3) they were excited to take home!

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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One Day Welding Workshop - All Girls

All Girls, Metal, Technical Skills, WeldingCaroline ScanlanComment

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

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

This means a few things:

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

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

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

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

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

One Day Welding Workshop

Welding, Metal, Technical SkillsAmanda SimonsComment

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

This means a few things:

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

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

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

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

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

Concepts Are Tools, Too.

All Teens, Technical Skills, InteractiveSean MurrayComment

Today at Tinkering School, we got to do something really special: a one-day workshop just for teenagers. 

Instead of our usual tool training, which focuses on the actual use of the chopsaw and drills, we had a "conceptual tool training", where we went over three mental tools useful to any builder working on any project in any medium:

1. PART-MAKING--How to set up a process that can quickly, easily make exact (enough) copies of a given part (like segments that made up the two 16-sided polygons that were our "wheels")

Zeke picks out gussets, next to the stack of wheel segments.

Zeke picks out gussets, next to the stack of wheel segments.

2. CHECK-FIXTURES--How to make tools to ensure that all of the parts get assembled ina  given relationship

Check fixtures make sure that wheel segments are joined at 22.5deg.

Check fixtures make sure that wheel segments are joined at 22.5deg.

3. SUB-ASSEMBLIES--How to combine standard parts into larger, more complex parts, and eventual a whole. 

We assemble wheel segments and gussets into "two-zies", then "two-zies" into "four-zies", then "four-zies" into "eight-zies"....

We assemble wheel segments and gussets into "two-zies", then "two-zies" into "four-zies", then "four-zies" into "eight-zies"....

We picked a project that would be complex and subtle enough to challenge more veteran builders: a human-sized hamster wheel.

We started by making the two most basic parts: wheel segments and the gussets to connect them.

Mac and Sean roll the "sixteen-zy". It flexes a bunch, and will obviously require spokes!

Mac and Sean roll the "sixteen-zy". It flexes a bunch, and will obviously require spokes!

We also needed check fixtures, to make sure that the wheel segments were put together in such a way that 16 of them would form a circle-ish-enough polygon.

Zeke does quality control, sawing off bits that compromise the "circle-ish-ness" of the polygon.

Zeke does quality control, sawing off bits that compromise the "circle-ish-ness" of the polygon.

After we'd made two circles, we strengthened them with hubs and spokes...

...then connected the two circles with parts we called "treads".

Installing the treads--we used yet another check fixture to make sure the treads were installed dead perpendicular to the wheel.

Installing the treads--we used yet another check fixture to make sure the treads were installed dead perpendicular to the wheel.

We were very thoughtful about how we distributed our small (seven!) team, and did a great job avoiding bottlenecks and keeping value flowing into the project.

Awesome teamwork--clampers and fetchers outside the wheel, installers inside the wheel.

Awesome teamwork--clampers and fetchers outside the wheel, installers inside the wheel.

In all, the hamster wheel really only had 7 distinct parts! 

Julian on an "un-aided voyage"--we're only spotting him, he's providing all the power and speed control. A brave young man.

Julian on an "un-aided voyage"--we're only spotting him, he's providing all the power and speed control. A brave young man.

Big thanks to David C. for spreading the word about this workshop!

Mini-Golf

Unusual Materials, Tinkering Challenge, Technical SkillsSean Murray

What could be more fun than playing mini-golf?

Building our own mini-golf course, then playing it!

We started by very carefully framing the sub-floors of the holes. They had to be very precise, so that the ball would roll smoothly.

We covered the framing with plywood, then covered the plywood with canvas.

Then we painted the canvas green. We also made obstacles for the holes--a rounded hill for Hole #2, and for Hole #1, of course, a windmill!

Building a mini-golf course, then playing mini-golf, that's what!

As always, there are more photos on our Flickr.

A Sunday of Welding

Welding, Technical Skills, Open Ended DesignSean Murray

This Sunday was our first Intro to Welding of the year.

This was an awesome session, with all of our young welders showing lots of thoughtfulness towards one another and their work.

Projects ran the gamut from sculptures (like Oscar's MineCraft tiki mask) to furniture (like Ishwari's stool). 

We got to break out lots of the big, charismatic tools, like the grinders and the portable metal bandsaw.

What better way to spend a Sunday?

Dreadnoughtus!

Narrative, Open Ended Design, Tinkering Challenge, Technical Skills, Problem SolvingSean Murray

What could be more awesome than a Saturday spent building? A Saturday spent building a dinosaur, that's what.

Inspired by the recent discoveries of Dreadnoughtus schrani, the biggest known land animal ever, we decided to build, well, a Dreadnoughtus skeleton.

As always and ever, we started with tool training.

Note Alexi's textbook "Bruce Lee Tiger Claw" left hand, hold the wood firmly in place as she cuts.

We broke into for teams to frame the front and rear legs. Communication among and between teams was important, lest the Dreadnoughtus have limbs that didn't match!

After the front legs and rear legs were built, we connected them with shoulders and hips, then lifted them up the floor and into their standing position. This--standing up a project that's been built sideways, on the ground, is often a big "a-ha!" moment.

With the shoulders and hips standing, we started building the spine in 8-foot sections. Our builders were focused and perseverant, and really bought into the whole-group goal, rather than individual glory. (Which makes sense, because the whole-group goal was to build a sweet dinosaur.)

We wound up with a 32-foot long dinosaur with an articulated neck. It was massive, and dominated the mayo factory (which says a lot--the mayo factory's big). Incredibly, though, our wood behemoth was only about half the size of the actual Dreadnoughtus--making this the first time in Tinkering School history that we've built something smaller-than-life!

Intro To Welding January 4th

Welding, Technical Skills, Open Ended Design, MetalJosh Rothhaas

Intro to welding is quickly becoming one of our most fun and popular workshops. Wielding 90-120 volts and hundreds of amps to bring steal to over 4,000 degrees to melt steal into liquid and let it freeze into a shape of our choosing is something that may never get old.

The day starts with safety training and skill building. We start with making straight lines of bead and move into binding corners.

Using a base set of pieces we ask the kids to get creative within constraints. However if their imagination takes them towards needing longer or shorter piece we have our trusty new portable band saw on hand to make the cuts.

The projects ranges from flower holders and wall mounted night stands to miniature chairs and abstract art.

Todays crew epitomized pertinence, awareness of others, and courtesy. "Do you need help clamping that?" and "He can go first, his welds are easier and faster than mine" were heard again and again all day.

There is a deep need to clean our hands after working with metal dust and grease.

Once the welds set, its time for grinding. The kids really get into smoothing out and polishing their welds, giving their pieces a shine to be proud of. Also, the angle grinder is really cool to use.

We have magnetic corners that really make nailing the corners a whole lot easier and more fun.

Be sure to check out even more photos from the day.

One Day Workshop : Elevators

Problem Solving, Tinkering Challenge, Rope, Technical SkillsAccounts at Brightworks

The goal of the day; make two working elevators. We started of with a noisy hour of tool training and practice to quickly get the basic skills needed to build something spectacular. From there we designed, thought, and got to making.

We get acquainted with the chop saw and the drills.

From there we announced the project and began planning. We drew and discussed our ideas. One essential element was the rope and pulley set that would eventually lift us. Josh lead a lesson in cutting synthetic rope with a hot piece of metal.

One team pursued the base first while another chased a frame that was a nearly a cube. Both teams needed to do a lot of drilling.

One team pursued a sort of suspended tackle block. The precision of the holes that would eventually hold the pulleys was key. These girls handled it like pros.

The cube takes shape!

And the custom tackle block comes together.

A knot tying guru enters a zen state.

And we take off. A few feet into the sky is the limit for the day. Those few feet where impossible just 5 hours ago. And now we are floating on a device of our own hard work.

One Day Workshop : Land Train

Open Ended Design, Technical SkillsAccounts at Brightworks

Today our goal was a Land Train. Three teams working together to build as many train cars as possible. One team built a car big enough and wide enough to hold the 7 people. Another team built one with a wooden roof and enclosure. The third team, our youngest, knocked out the most at a whopping three train cars. It worked, it rolled, and it was really fun to make.

All of our workshops start with tool training and safety.

With the train car challenge ahead, we dove right into brainstorming and design.

And then the building began! Each team took wildly diverging approaches. Some with solid axels, others with individuated wheels, and some took the assembly line approach and made multiple, simple, high-quality carts.

Lucas takes on a tricky attachment scheme to hold our wheel box to the main body of the trolly car part of the train.

Our youngest team puts the finishing touches on their second train car.

The front engine and trolly-esk car really takes shape once the roof is put on.

Dominic puts in some lovely touches, adding coat hangers for passengers with traveling gear.

Augusta takes a go on the chop-saw cutting a piece to connect the trains.

Sean and Anna put the finishing details on the final connection to complete our train.

It was a short ride, filled with the sweet knowledge that we built this all by ourselves.

Intro to Welding

Welding, Technical Skills, MetalJosh Rothhaas

With a few hundred feet woth for flat iron, angle iron, and square tube steel, two welders and 8 kids we set out on an entirely new journey for Tinkering School San Francisco. We welded. Its important to note what welding is and isn't. It is not the steel equivalent of hot glue. Most things you have built or have seen built are multiple objects, that even when bound together stay multiple distinct objects. 2 pieces of steel that are welded become one piece of steel. Welding uses enough electricity to take two pieces of solid steel, melt them into liquid steel, and reform them, at the atomic level, into one single contiguous piece of steel. It's awesome, in the purest sense of the word.

We start with a group demo, some scary safety warnings about burns, flashes, UV rays and sun burn (yes, welding can give you a sun burn)

Then it's right to straight line practice. We don't start even trying to weld until we can bead a decent straight line.

Sparks fly as Isabella tries welding for the first time.

We didn't stop at welding. We also explored cutting metal and grinding metal. The basic essentials of metal work.

Frannie welds two angle irons together.

Isabella hacks through a steel bar with raw muscle power.

Ben takes another route with the angle grinder. The cut isn't as clean, and the metal is scolding hot afterwards, but it is much faster.

We even got to use the drill press as Alex crafts a coat hanger.

Alix and Frannie made a startlingly square box, with edges as smooth as anything we've seen made by adults. Their commitment to excellence and focus on execution was unparalleled today.

Kyler is stoked on the tiny sculpture of a tank he is working on.

We are delighted to introduce welding to our repertoire here at Tinkering School and cannot wait to see what the kids make next.

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