Balance: Day 2

The second day of Tinkering Schools is very different from the first.

Maya uses the drill press for a mobile part.

Maya uses the drill press for a mobile part.

On the first day, we have a slow build. We talk over group agreements, train on the tools, and flesh out design ideas. A lot needs to happen before the first cuts can be made!

Miller uses the jigsaw.

Miller uses the jigsaw.

On the second day, we get right down to work after a brief morning meeting. The excitement is pretty big--on day two (and for the rest of camp) we get right down to the best part--building!

Micah, Thomas, Mason,Chelsea, Sophia and super-volunteer Jhonny work on the fulcrum of a giant Scales of Justice.

Micah, Thomas, Mason,Chelsea, Sophia and super-volunteer Jhonny work on the fulcrum of a giant Scales of Justice.

This week's theme is BALANCE. We've started in on a maze of balance beams, a giant mobile, a lattice of smaller mobiles and a gigantic scales of justice.

Zoey and Jah-Amiel.

Zoey and Jah-Amiel.

Stay tuned for more!

Charlotte holds up what will be the bottom of a platform, for placing objects on the giant Scales of Justice.

Charlotte holds up what will be the bottom of a platform, for placing objects on the giant Scales of Justice.

Balance: Day 1

This week, we are building projects around the theme of BALANCE.

Georgia and Charlotte.

Georgia and Charlotte.

We start by familiarizing ourselves with the tool sand materials.

Grabbing screws and bits at the tool wall.

Grabbing screws and bits at the tool wall.

We practice the barest fundamentals: combining material (with the drills)

Sophia and Ryan make the base of a giant Scales of Justice.

Sophia and Ryan make the base of a giant Scales of Justice.

Felix and Gabriel.

Felix and Gabriel.

...holding material in place (with the clamps)...

Ella, Sophia, Tia and Alex practice the clamps.

Ella, Sophia, Tia and Alex practice the clamps.

Jah-Amiel and Nathan clamp the base of a balance beam.

Jah-Amiel and Nathan clamp the base of a balance beam.

...and subtracting material (with the chop saw).

Ben and Ryan cut a stud.

Ben and Ryan cut a stud.

Our first projects include balance beams...

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...and mobiles made of hardware.

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As always, the day ends with a good clean-up and campers telling stories of other campers being excellent.

Brothers in cleaning!

Brothers in cleaning!

Castles: Big Progress on Hump Day

The castle is getting absolutely enormous. The solid walls are all up and sheathed, next we'll add a giant door, or maybe even a drawbridge. (At 24 feet long, 12 feet wide and 10' tall, we're still struggling to capture it in a photo.)

There's also a giant throne with complex, decorative arm rests, a royal bed and a huge "tapestry" of a unicorn. 

Abby, Eliza and Zoey have used almost every tool in the shop constructing a deb with tall posts and a curtain.

Abby, Eliza and Zoey have used almost every tool in the shop constructing a deb with tall posts and a curtain.

Peike and Sophia paint a unicorn tapestry.

Peike and Sophia paint a unicorn tapestry.

The royal foosball table.

The royal foosball table.

Ruby paints the throne--note the compoun miters on the arm rests!

Ruby paints the throne--note the compoun miters on the arm rests!

There are some cannon stations and a catapult, but only for use launching food to those who live outside the castle walls. Ours, you see, is a peaceful kingdom. The only trouble is the dragon under construction far outside the walls...

Zoya, Scarlett and Piper connect segments of the dragon.

Zoya, Scarlett and Piper connect segments of the dragon.

Castles: Mindful Tool Use

Yesterday, when our kids were proposing rules for our Group Agreement, a camper came up with a rule I've never heard before: Use tools mindfully.

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Tool use--the deployment of a designed, fabricated instrument to create a desired outcome--is amazing. Every time we use any tool, from the glorious bandsaw to the mundane scissors, it is an opportunity to focus...

to observe the interaction of tool, material and user...

to very literally change a piece of the world.

It might be a tiny piece, but it is right in front of us.

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Tool use is an incredible thing to behold and to perform. That we should use tools mindfully is a rule that all the campers and collaborators, at their best, feel in their bones.

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This week we are building a castle. It will be made of 2x3s, and covered in cardboard. We'll paint the cardboard to look like stone.

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We'll make make crowns and thrones and trapdoors and secret passageways--mostly out of wood and screws, using a few simple tools--mostly drills, clamps and a chopsaw.

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We'll try new things, and laugh when they don't go perfectly.

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We'll try to use all our tools--including words and actions--mindfully.

In this picture, one six-year-old helps another six-year-old use a power drill. They met this week. They are building a a train shaped like a dragon together. They are friends, for they are building together. We are so proud of these kids!

In this picture, one six-year-old helps another six-year-old use a power drill. They met this week. They are building a a train shaped like a dragon together. They are friends, for they are building together.

We are so proud of these kids!

Welcome to Castles

Today was the first day of our week focused on Castles. As always, we begin with tool training. 

We got to know the drills...

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...chop saw...

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...and paints.

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One of the coolest things about Tinkering School (we think) is our willingness to experiment, and constantly ask, "How can we make this better?" Today our collaborators tried a new way to get kids familiar with clamps--building giant Clamp-a-ma-Jigs. That is, structures held together with no fasteners, only clamps.

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This was, by far, the most engaging and productive clamp training we've ever done!

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Oh, yes, and our theme this week is CASTLES! Stay tuned to see what we build!

A Week of Heavy Lifting

Our week of heavy lifting is done!

This was a really fun week, with projects ranging from whimsical Fake Heavy Things and magnetic fishing poles...

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...all the way to the massive Smash-O-Tine (every watermelon's worst nightmare.

This week also saw an extremeley technically complex project: a Giant Claw machine with FOUR types of motion!

The claw could move East-West, North-South, Up-Down and the claw could open and close to grab all sorts of things--like stools, buckets, and even other projects!

For even more photos, check out our flickr!

The End of Every Day of Tinkering School

At the end of every day of Tinkering School, after we've driven our last screws and made our last cuts, after we've put away the tools and swept up the shop, we all gather and sit in a big circle on our floor made of cork.

And every day, we ask the same question: Does any kid want to share stories of other kids being excellent?

The kids offer little vignettes of one another's kindness, ranging from the physical--"Olivia helped me lift a heavy piece of wood."-- to the emotional--"I was sad when park time was over but Finn walked with me and cheered me up."

Here are some pictures of cooperation and kindness from our Wednesday session of Heavy Lifting.