"She's Never Been to Space Before!"

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.

Teia gets to know the chopsaw.

Teia gets to know the chopsaw.

Lauren and Piper use their precision eye to calculate some angles.

Lauren and Piper use their precision eye to calculate some angles.

Design/Snack time may have influenced the name of the lander.

Design/Snack time may have influenced the name of the lander.

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!

Comet team gets ready to cut the door skin in half.

Comet team gets ready to cut the door skin in half.

Ella takes a turn using the skilsaw to cut a straight line.

Ella takes a turn using the skilsaw to cut a straight line.

Francesca curves her corner through the bandsaw while the rest of the team supports the weight.

Francesca curves her corner through the bandsaw while the rest of the team supports the weight.

The team attaches supports to keep our comet skelton in 3D.

The team attaches supports to keep our comet skelton in 3D.

Finally we cover up all of our tricky, hard work with recycling, hopefully to help it roll.

Finally we cover up all of our tricky, hard work with recycling, hopefully to help it roll.

Ramp team gets the back structure screwed together.

Ramp team gets the back structure screwed together.

Ella, Laura, Simone and Mel attach the first vertical supports!

Ella, Laura, Simone and Mel attach the first vertical supports!

Lila and Ella drill pilot holes for the sliding surface!

Lila and Ella drill pilot holes for the sliding surface!

Meanwhile the Lander team has been hard at work:

Lauren and Ananya team up to get some screws in.

Lauren and Ananya team up to get some screws in.

Lauren, Ananya and Sarah start assembling parts!

Lauren, Ananya and Sarah start assembling parts!

The team contemplates how to connect the two frames.

The team contemplates how to connect the two frames.

Lauren cuts lander appendages on the bandsaw.

Lauren cuts lander appendages on the bandsaw.

Legs and camouflage are attached!

Legs and camouflage are attached!

Fillet is complete with a few more message uploads!

Fillet is complete with a few more message uploads!

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!

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!

Submarine Standing

This Thursday session we took on the ambitious goal of attaching the three frames for the submarine we reconstructed last week.  

The group meets with Lindsay to draw out a plan of action for the afternoon. 

The group meets with Lindsay to draw out a plan of action for the afternoon. 

The group self organized into pairs which allowed us to tackle multiple tasks, simultaneously. This sort of co-operation was exactly what we needed to get this sub assembled and off the ground. 

Liam helps hold a stick of wood he marked to be trimmed while Owen makes the cut. 

Liam helps hold a stick of wood he marked to be trimmed while Owen makes the cut. 

Emilia and Zach work on gutting out gussets on the bandsaw to help stabilize the wobble on the frames

Emilia and Zach work on gutting out gussets on the bandsaw to help stabilize the wobble on the frames

Check out that focus! 

Check out that focus! 

Meanwhile, Cecile and Portia work together on driving screws into the submarines' base. 

Meanwhile, Cecile and Portia work together on driving screws into the submarines' base. 

Owen tackles the top (ladder safety means the same task takes two people) 

Owen tackles the top (ladder safety means the same task takes two people) 

Nic and Emilia decide to be each others resistance by choosing to work opposite one another on securing gussets to the frames base

Nic and Emilia decide to be each others resistance by choosing to work opposite one another on securing gussets to the frames base

Buliding break! Sean offers resistance with his foot to the gusset team whilst taking a moment to catch up with Emilia about what's happening beyond the walls of the shop.

Buliding break! Sean offers resistance with his foot to the gusset team whilst taking a moment to catch up with Emilia about what's happening beyond the walls of the shop.

Portia also wanted to get up the ladder and work on attaching the top, while in the background Sean checks in with Max who's practicing making cuts with a hand saw.

Portia also wanted to get up the ladder and work on attaching the top, while in the background Sean checks in with Max who's practicing making cuts with a hand saw.

Overcoming obstacles, moving right along and having a good time.

The majority of the group ended last week with some really great design challenges. So as we entered the shop on our fourth session we revisited a lot of lingering questions. Focusing on making individual plans on what to do next and how to move ahead. It was really great to see the positivity the group showed in the face of perseverance, today.   

Brandin begins his session meeting with Amanda to determine his next steps. Today's goals are to create hips" and "shoulders" joints where he'll attach his dogs appendages.

Brandin begins his session meeting with Amanda to determine his next steps. Today's goals are to create hips" and "shoulders" joints where he'll attach his dogs appendages.

Ruari complete's his basic shop training by practicing with a drill in preparation to assemble his appetizer project

Ruari complete's his basic shop training by practicing with a drill in preparation to assemble his appetizer project

Clamps can be a great took when working independently. Rauri prepares his halloween decoration for assembly 

Clamps can be a great took when working independently. Rauri prepares his halloween decoration for assembly 

Gabriel discusses torque and resistance with Josh realizing that he'll need more then just his hands to load his trebuche

Gabriel discusses torque and resistance with Josh realizing that he'll need more then just his hands to load his trebuche

Mason takes a break from considering the the logistics of how his cart will move by moving on to build a back rest for where he'll sit.  

Mason takes a break from considering the the logistics of how his cart will move by moving on to build a back rest for where he'll sit.  

Brandin marks were to drill a hole for the joints of his dog. 

Brandin marks were to drill a hole for the joints of his dog. 

This project requires plenty of unthreading and rethreading of washers and nuts to check for the proper fit. Brandin maintains a positive attitude even during the most tedious of moments.  

This project requires plenty of unthreading and rethreading of washers and nuts to check for the proper fit. Brandin maintains a positive attitude even during the most tedious of moments.  

Ruari learns how to mark using a rafter square to ensure his screws make in into the wood.

Ruari learns how to mark using a rafter square to ensure his screws make in into the wood.

Mason sets up the fence on the bandsaw to help guide his cut for his back rest. 

Mason sets up the fence on the bandsaw to help guide his cut for his back rest. 

Even looking can bring about laughter. Check out Gabriel's engagement as Josh assists in drilling a large diameter hole for his trebuchet.

Even looking can bring about laughter. Check out Gabriel's engagement as Josh assists in drilling a large diameter hole for his trebuchet.

Strengthening a Floor (and a Design)

On our forth session first we finished attaching all the support beams to our floor's frame and began reinforcing the four corners from where we plan to suspend the room from the schools ceiling's structural supports. 

The reinforcing involved building out the corners about 3 inches in all directions. This called for a LOT of heavy duty drilling and driving of 3" screws (not such an easy task for a young kid). Lot's of hands were needed to work in pairs to measure, cut and clamp supports while other teams worked on attaching them. 

It can be difficult to stay focused when doing such repetitive work so we all took a break to explain the importance of safety and the structural soundness that is required to lift an 8'x8' room into the air. Since our room is going to be lifted from the floor it needs to be strong enough to not only hold the weight of the room but all of us as well! 

We circled up at the end of the day to review and update our updated master plan with the supports we had added. Although the floor didn't look much different by the end of our working session the group was pretty excited to know that we were in a place begin sheathing it the following week!  

 

Figuring out Friday's

With 5 young builders working on independent projects, Friday's seem to be so busy that we don't even have a moment to capture all the action. I think that's quickly identifying itself as one of the main challenges for both collaborator and construction during open shop. 

In this environment we encourage planing so everyone has a clear direction on the days work through establishing next steps and some hopeful outcomes for the afternoon. These mini-meetings can take anywhere from two to ten minutes and happen before even picking up our first tool. Coming into the sunny and airy space of the shop after a full week of instruction can its own challenge for the majority of youth in this groups' age range but the mimi-meetings are designed to kickstart engagement by creating focus and excitement. 

Once we get started we frequently come across unforeseen complications which force us to rethink our plan or specific operation. We promote thoughtful reflection and asking questions in open-shop that require us to practice patience and the importance of assisting one other when working in shared spaces. This collaboration often prompts curiosity in each other's projects. It's so satisfying to hear the designer share their project or it's specific component when asked, "What are you building? What is this for? How does it work?" 

These interactions lend themselves to a lot of the positivity this group brings into the shop. These kids are learning to sharing much more then simply tools. They're exchanging laughs, stories and practical advice. 

 

Tinkering School On Site at Khan Lab School

Last week, the students and teachers at Khan Lab School in Mountain View took a week to build some very big things and tackle thorny problems.

The team got together some basic tools, very simple materials, a nice big outdoor space and a whole week of time. 

It was awesome to see how readily the kids helped one another learn new skills.

We also got to have the wonderful group experience of setting up shop each morning, and breaking down in the afternoon. It's awesome to watch hundreds of objects (and hundreds of pounds of objects) move so swiftly from one place to another--all due to teamwork!

Below find photos of the week; for even more photos, head on over to our Flickr.

Start with the basics...drill training.

Start with the basics...drill training.

We started with 100 2x3s and 3 sheets of plywood.

We started with 100 2x3s and 3 sheets of plywood.

Megan carries a go-kart deck.

Megan carries a go-kart deck.

Melaina and Luke mark a cut for the ramp.

Melaina and Luke mark a cut for the ramp.

Tristan drills an axle hole.

Tristan drills an axle hole.

Riya and Isabelle used the Japanese pullsaw to lop of the tops of the pickets on the ramp's guardrail.

Riya and Isabelle used the Japanese pullsaw to lop of the tops of the pickets on the ramp's guardrail.

Jasper, Milan and Isabella work on a staircase up to the ramp.

Jasper, Milan and Isabella work on a staircase up to the ramp.

Alicia and Megan work on steering.

Alicia and Megan work on steering.

Chi-Ray, our brave leader, about to roll into the unknown...  This was our first test. He lived!

Chi-Ray, our brave leader, about to roll into the unknown... 

This was our first test. He lived!

Cate rips plywood for a tool storage cabinet.

Cate rips plywood for a tool storage cabinet.

Of course, we had to make a finish line! Zidaan leads the pack in an impromptu race.

Of course, we had to make a finish line! Zidaan leads the pack in an impromptu race.

Some of the KhanAcademy.org staff got in on the action--a perfect diversion during their Hack Week.

Some of the KhanAcademy.org staff got in on the action--a perfect diversion during their Hack Week.

Mishal, Milan, and Hermione Granger help set up shop (Friday was Halloween).

Mishal, Milan, and Hermione Granger help set up shop (Friday was Halloween).

Building in the rain was tough...go slow, be safe, hang tarps!

Building in the rain was tough...go slow, be safe, hang tarps!

Undeterred by the rain, Riya marks a cut for the bleachers.

Undeterred by the rain, Riya marks a cut for the bleachers.

The bleacher crew does not stop for rain!

The bleacher crew does not stop for rain!