TSAS Seniors: Making Boards from a Log, Finishing a Case Carcass

We got to use loads of fun tools as we built our library today.

Panu re-saws a redwood. (Don't worry, the log is on a sled!)

Panu re-saws a redwood. (Don't worry, the log is on a sled!)

Ethan and Dexter busted out the pipe clamps to complete the carcass of their bookcase. The carcass is made only from off-the-shelf fraing studs, but thanks to their care and precision, it came out extremely square. (Sorry, we were all too busy to snap a photo!) Next week we'll clad the carcass in strips of softwood, matching the rustic feel of our shop.

With the log now square on two sides (S2S), Trent can re-saw sans-sled.

With the log now square on two sides (S2S), Trent can re-saw sans-sled.

Sam and Asa used the portable bandsaw and MIG to weld some sleek brackets for wall-mount shelves, while Panu and Trent used the bandsaw, planer, and random orbital sander to make boards from a redwood log over 14" diameter!

...then we plane...

...then we plane...

...then we sand.

...then we sand.

TSAS Juniors: Instruments Learned, We Begin to Write Songs

Last session, we presented our youngest builders with DC motors, batteries, wire, common school supplies...and very little instruction our direction. It was kind of like giving kids a musical instrument they'd never seen before, and just encouraging them to explore the possibilities.

Franklin and Maite set up the "robot zoo" where their creations will skitter, doodle, waddle, roll, tumble...

Franklin and Maite set up the "robot zoo" where their creations will skitter, doodle, waddle, roll, tumble...

This session, our builders came in with a working knowledge of the materials, and clear understanding of what they might build--they had learned their instruments, and were ready to write songs.

Scarlett tests a two-cork doodling waddler.

Scarlett tests a two-cork doodling waddler.

Franklin loads a bit into a chuck (as opposed to a quick release) for the very first time!

Franklin loads a bit into a chuck (as opposed to a quick release) for the very first time!

It was really satisfying to see the full shift from struggle to mastery, and to see kids catch on to the idea that sharing and copying of ideas can be a very good thing!

Tests under way, robots under production...great creativity and flow among our group!

Tests under way, robots under production...great creativity and flow among our group!

Transient


BowlerCoaster Day 4: Closing the Gap

We began today with a working loop-the-loop, portions of a post-loop segment and some solid concepts for the lift that would take the bowling ball to the top of the coaster.

We also had huge gaps. With only two days left to work, we focused ourselves entirely on closing the Northern Gap and the Southern Gap and creating a full circuit before we disassemble our Bowler Coaster on Friday.

Oscar makes a repair with the pull saw.

Oscar makes a repair with the pull saw.

Mack is stoked after a successful test of the post-loop dip. Ernesto is about to remark on a wobble in the opening turn.

Mack is stoked after a successful test of the post-loop dip. Ernesto is about to remark on a wobble in the opening turn.

V.T. and Ernesto test a lift prototype.

V.T. and Ernesto test a lift prototype.

It's hard to get across how much work our team of 10+ year-olds accomplished today. They built over seventy feet of track, made of hundreds of pieces of wood, connected with thousands of screws. 

Trent assembles a lift prototype.

Trent assembles a lift prototype.

Aidan explores a cloth saddle for the lift.

Aidan explores a cloth saddle for the lift.

As of this writing, we have closed the Southern Gap and have one working lift. Tomorrow we'll go for the complete circuit and two working lifts. 

Jake and Oscar, our skunkworks team, spent diligent hours tweaking the pulleys for the lift.

Jake and Oscar, our skunkworks team, spent diligent hours tweaking the pulleys for the lift.

But how will it tip the ball out?

But how will it tip the ball out?

V.T. and Ernesto test the lift on its final incline.

V.T. and Ernesto test the lift on its final incline.

Stay tuned.

The Bowler Coaster is getting huge. Even at the most conservative estimate, we're over 100 feet of track!

The Bowler Coaster is getting huge. Even at the most conservative estimate, we're over 100 feet of track!


BowlerCoaster Day 2 : Ambitious

Today was a day of height and high ambition. Our first section of track takes a classic lazy first turn before heading for a 40 degree fall into what will hopefully connect to a 4 foot tall loop-the-loop. It was another day of high minded collaboration and working together well. By working together well, I mean at the highest level of abstraction and at the simplest level of spacial awareness. We have teams of kids who have taken laser like focus on simple objectives like cut the wood or make 25  identical track pieces. The group's collective ability to see that the repetitive work of the now as an enabling force in the bigger and longer term picture of the BowlerCoaster is powerful and will have major and positive ramifications for the week ahead.

The day started with the final test of making an upward turn.

Then the next goal was going up.

We immediately went tall.

It was essential that as much work as possible be done on the ground.

Aidan plays the roll of bowling ball.

Major connections are made.

On the other side of the shop work begins on a loop-the-loop.

We all have a go at the jigsaw

And something takes shape.

The quarter sections become halves.

And the halves become a whole

Tomorrow has the big project of connecting our first drop with our first feature. We have no idea if it will work, an essential element in a great Tinkering School project.

BowlerCoaster Day 1: Building Systems

Today was the first day of Spring Break Camp. This week, we are going attempt to build a bowling ball rollercoaster here in the Mission. 

Before we could even talk about building our "BowlerCoaster", we had to get acquainted with the tools at our disposal: chop saw, drills and clamps.

With drill...

With drill...

...clamp...

...clamp...

...and chop saw, we can make many many things.

...and chop saw, we can make many many things.

Building a rollercoaster is hard. Hundreds of pieces need to work together. The rails that make of the track must be uniformly spaced. Sections of track must be securely fastened to one another, and allow the ball to move smoothly from section to section. Executing turns, rises and dips would take precise execution of a cohesive system. And a cohesive system demands teamwork. Our builders were eager to help and listen to one another, right from the start.

Gus and Mac work on the first section of track, an 8' straightaway.

Gus and Mac work on the first section of track, an 8' straightaway.

Our focus today was on developing our BowlerCoaster system. First, we established the spacing of the rails, and even cut special check fixtures to maintain that spacing.

The beginnings of our template library. With these stops and check fixtures, we can build hundreds of pieces that all work together.

The beginnings of our template library. With these stops and check fixtures, we can build hundreds of pieces that all work together.

Oscar does some important testing.

Oscar does some important testing.

Lindsay walks Oscar, Gus and Mac through the subtleties of connecting track sections.

Lindsay walks Oscar, Gus and Mac through the subtleties of connecting track sections.

It was awesome how quickly and fluidly the builders developed systems, branched off into project teams, and helped one another out.

Diego and Ernest made a great team--their system for building track was our engine.

Diego and Ernest made a great team--their system for building track was our engine.

Freya shows off the first prototype of a 20-degree turn...

Freya shows off the first prototype of a 20-degree turn...

...and installs the turn with Oscar and William.

...and installs the turn with Oscar and William.

By day's end, we'd proven concepts for building straightaways, horizontal turns, and dips. We've figured out the fundamental elements of a BowlerCoaster system--tomorrow we head into production mode!

The first test is always an exciting, tense moment...

The first test is always an exciting, tense moment...

Would our systems for linking track, turning, and rising actually work?

Would our systems for linking track, turning, and rising actually work?

YES!!!

YES!!!