Dreadnoughtus!

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

Stella connects a section of spine to the top of the dinosaur's hips.

Stella connects a section of spine to the top of the dinosaur's hips.

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

The rare situation where hand tools are more efficient. This stud was a bit too long, but had already been fastened into several other parts. Rather than unscrew a dozens screws, chop it on the chop saw, and then drive the dozen screws again, Oliver just takes off the excess with the pullsaw.

The rare situation where hand tools are more efficient. This stud was a bit too long, but had already been fastened into several other parts. Rather than unscrew a dozens screws, chop it on the chop saw, and then drive the dozen screws again, Oliver just takes off the excess with the pullsaw.

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.

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!

Sofia gets under the shoulders to connect a section of dino-spine.

Sofia gets under the shoulders to connect a section of dino-spine.

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.

Isaac uses a re-purposed caster to give the dinosaur an articulated, moving neck.

Isaac uses a re-purposed caster to give the dinosaur an articulated, moving neck.

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.)

Dreadnoughtus!

Dreadnoughtus!

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!

It was very fun moving the head and neck up and down and back and forth.

It was very fun moving the head and neck up and down and back and forth.

Pop-Up Planetarium

It took the American Museum of Natural History about half a year and $11,000,000 (in today's dollars, or $800,000 in 1935) to build Hayden Planetarium. 

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For the first One Day Workshop of the year, we thought we'd build a Pop-Up Planetarium--that is, a dark room with simulated stars that is designed and built in just one day.

As always, we started with tool training. Incredibly, and for the first time in Tinkering School history, we did not use the chop saw once for the project (it was made entirely out of 96" studs, and we just grabbed scraps for the braces). But, it's always fun to learn.

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Then we divvied up labor into panel-painting...

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star-making...

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and framing.

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The crew did a great job moving themselves among tasks to meet the need of the bigger project.

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When we were finally done, we cleaned up, and went together into the vacuum of space.

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It was a pretty cool, convincing effect--very dark, with variations in the LEDs' strengths mimicking the various brightness of galaxies seen in deep space photos. The effect was greatly enhanced by the score coming from the shop boom box: "Space Oddity", themes from Star Trek and Star Wars, and Carl Sagan's word on "the pale blue dot".

As always, there are loads more photos on our flickr.

With huge love and thanks to Ann Druyan, Neil Tyson and Carl Sagan. Your work is a constant inspiration.


Putting It All Together

Building the individual components of our Rube Goldberg contraption is pretty tough.

Leo and Lindsay test the bowling ball ski jump.

Leo and Lindsay test the bowling ball ski jump.

Getting all those parts to work together is even tougher. 

Max cutting a plate to receive the weight that will operate the chop saw.

Max cutting a plate to receive the weight that will operate the chop saw.

Right now we have a plinko machine, a marble run tower, a chemistry=powered balloon rocket, giant dominoes, a bowling ball ski jump and a big swingin' boot.

Raising the 360-degree marble run tower,

Raising the 360-degree marble run tower,

We have one day left to get all the components working together with the hopes of a chain reaction ending with the human-free operation of a chopsaw.

The boot that will start it all.

The boot that will start it all.

The great thing about Tinkering School is it's very open-ended. We have no idea how or whether this thing is going to work. We're just gonna try really hard and see what happens

Technical drawing.

Technical drawing.

Kinetic Potential

We're making a Rube Goldberg-inspired chain reaction contraption this week. It requires lots of patience and a willingness to fight against finicky mechanisms.

These are the smallest dominoes in a sequence that will end with (we hope) a 96"x16" domino.

These are the smallest dominoes in a sequence that will end with (we hope) a 96"x16" domino.

The decorative base of a tower that will hold a 360-degree ball run.

The decorative base of a tower that will hold a 360-degree ball run.

Stairs for the dominos to climb.

Stairs for the dominos to climb.

Leo measures a tower for the combustion-powered zipline.

Leo measures a tower for the combustion-powered zipline.

Let's get chemical. A moment of levity while figuring out how to mix the baking soda and vinegar that will power the zipline.

Let's get chemical. A moment of levity while figuring out how to mix the baking soda and vinegar that will power the zipline.

Also, we are in collective love with the saws. Click below to move through a gallery of cuts, cuts, cuts!

Making Things Complicated

This week we are going to do things the hard way...for fun!  Using the drilling, clamping and chop saw skills we learned this morning we are going to create the most complex, twisty, turny, loud, amazing way to cut a tiny stick of wood: An Action-Reaction Machine!

Elizabeth, Katherine, and Clem do some complicated measuring to get the angle of the domino stairs just right.

Elizabeth, Katherine, and Clem do some complicated measuring to get the angle of the domino stairs just right.

Alex, Elias, and Duncan practice intricate clamping.

Alex, Elias, and Duncan practice intricate clamping.

Audrey demonstrates the "twisty" clamp!

Audrey demonstrates the "twisty" clamp!

Tinkerers got right to work on a "Plinko" ball bearing run, a Giant Domino run, and a gas powered - chemical reaction Balloon Rocket segment!

Dylan uses the chop saw to cut a miter.

Dylan uses the chop saw to cut a miter.

Owen, Ethan, and Leo add supports to the bottom of the Balloon Rocket tower.

Owen, Ethan, and Leo add supports to the bottom of the Balloon Rocket tower.

The Plinko team figures out the placement of the plinks.

The Plinko team figures out the placement of the plinks.

Katia uses the hand saw to work on her personal project.

Katia uses the hand saw to work on her personal project.

With one tower, the Plinko base, and tons of dominos finished in one afternoon we are hitting the ground running on this Rube Goldberg machine! We can't wait to see what else these tinkerers think up for it!

To see more captivating pictures of tinkering - in - progress head on over to our flickr page!

We Really Really Did it!!

The biggest obstacle that we overcame today (besides the GIANT CLIMBING WALL/WEB) was containing our excitement about playing on the obstacles, so that we could finish them! AGH! It was hard, but look what these Tinkerers accomplished this week:

A branching tunnel so long it won't fit in one photo!

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Maya makes a decision in the dark: MonkeyBars or Climbing Wall?

Maya makes a decision in the dark: MonkeyBars or Climbing Wall?

Kiana finds her way out of the dark!

Kiana finds her way out of the dark!

We hit some tricky design problems with the Monkey bars, but finished in time to swing around!

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A lot of the obstacles involved not just fastening pieces of wood together, but also complex rope situations, that even the tiniest of fingers mastered.

After flailing through the Balloon Pit we snaked through the Laser Maze!

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Then it was up the Climbing Wall and, with an exciting twist, down the Spider Web backwards!!

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The space was so filled with giant things to play on that we didn't have enough room to attempt to maneuver around on our Huge Team-Skis. The campers this week had no problem visualizing and creating their dream playground this week.

We were impressed with how teams powered through each frustrating moment. We are excited to see what they get up to in the future. But for now ....

LETS PLAY WITH BALLOONS!!!

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