We did it. Made from a drawing, raw creative energy, some 1×4 wood, a few bolts and plenty of screws. Today all 4 teams successfully send their rolling body suits from the barn all the way to the bridge.

Megan takes her roll suit for a test run.
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Nooi Successful test tun from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

Her run ends smoothly
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Campers are tied off so that collaborators can pull the emergency break.
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Nooi celebrates a completely successful run.
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Nick learns that parachord will not make a great zip-line. To much give.
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Team Kablooi was still dealing with handling issues this morning.
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While team Panda realized they needed to lock their nuts in place to keep their wheels on.
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Nick gears up for his big run.
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Nick finds him self mastering the intricacies of his carts handling and comes careening down the hill with amazing confidence and speed.

Panda Team, Successful Test 5 from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

Team Piki works on a new knee shield and breaking system. They are the only team without a successful run at this point. They refuse to be the team that didn’t pull it off and muster up incredible focus for their final push.
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Gretchen poses with team Kablooi’s rolling suit.
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Ana takes a very intentional and controlled run down the road.

Kablooi Successful Run from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

Joey goes for a smooth ride down the road.

Nooi Successful Run 2 from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

And predictably, after hours of pushing, rapid testing, team conflict and startling flexibility, Noah takes team Piki’s fully functional cart for a wildly successful run down the hill.

Piki Successful Full Run from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

And we celebrate the moment when every team has at least one successful run under their belt.
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Bryn, energized by their teams success, takes hold of the steering mechanism and heads down the hill.
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The controls are wonky, the strength required is startling but exciting. Bryn eventually gains control.

Panda Team Successful Run, Bryn from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

And we celebrate.
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Yoel is up next to brave the slopes.
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He has control, but Josh is still very excited to have an extra way to stop him.

Panda Team Successful Run, Yoel from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

And we celebrate.
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Cameron joins the fray as he rides team Piki’s suit down the hill.
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Piki Successful Full Run, Cameron from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

Quietly, in the background, Josh, Oren and Christie has been laboring away at an adult sized chest piece. The adventure looks like to much fun. We use the what the kids built for our arm and leg pieces, and would have used their chest piece, but they were far to small.

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Oren prepares for his first run.
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Oren the Collaborator dives down the hill from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

Oren is a little bit larger than any of the kids, so the his breaking system takes a bit more damage than anticipated.
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Josh joins the fun.
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He stops by the tire swing to invite the kids to watch his run.
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It goes incredibly well. The upper speed and control potential on these suits is spectacular. The handling provided by the arm pieces made by Kablooi, and the leg pieces made by Panda are precise.

Josh’s speed run from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

After a long hard day of tinkering and down hill lounging, we play. We swing, we celebrate, we tell stories and we play.

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And to end our long and wonderful day we give the Junior Collaborators a spin on the body suits.

Kevin has an amazing time.
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Kevin’s Full Run from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

Tomorrow we wrap up, show off to the parents and try and leave Elkus Ranch cleaner than we found it.

It’s been an amazing week.

The morning hits like a ton of bricks. Beach Day is nearly as exhausting as it is rejuvenating. The day of play is balanced by the aggressive power of the sun.

Either way, there is proper tinkering to be done as we find ourselves stuck on the precipice. “We are basicly done” becomes an anthem of both pride and frustration. On one side, its obvious we are so close. Only a few more adjustments and it will work. On the other side, we are desperate, losing patience, and “We are basically done” is a threat from the edge of engagement. How many more times can we head back to the barn to change one more thing?

Many more times.

Joey starts out assessing some potential problems.
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Yoel starts what would become an incredibly productive and focused day.
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Jonah and team Piki have a rough start and realize their break isn’t living up to expectations.
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Joey uses a propane torch to prepare a hot knife for cutting the synthetic fibers of the webbing.
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Megan has a go at the hot knife.
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Team Nooi put on their problem solving faces and make tremendous progress.
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After a scrapped knee from playing tag (far an away our most dangerous activity), Gretchen and Christie walk in the garden.
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Joey straps in for flat land testing.
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The scenery is stunning.
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Sometimes Tinkering School is about pursuing amazing and hard problems. Sometimes it just about using tools and supplies you’ve never used before. “Can I use a hand saw to cut some wood?” Yoel asks. The answer is “Of course” of course.

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Oren is visiting from Austin Tinkering School and helping us out.
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Bryn does some hand saw cutting.
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Rory straps in for some asphalt testing.
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Yoel and Gretchen sort through our scrap in preparation for the biggest fire Tinkering School has ever seen.
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Bryn, fully equipped in standing position.
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Bryn ready to roll.
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Bryn rolls. The camp first successful, in control, with breaks test run!

Panda Team, Successful Test from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

Amedeo makes some cuts on the chop saw.
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Megan on the jig saw.
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Gretchen in her painting studio.
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Piki gears up.
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Yoel strikes a pose.
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Team Panda is full of excitement as a major test gets underway.
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Yoel takes our second fully controlled test run.

Panda Team, Successful Test 2 from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

And our third.

Panda Team, Successful Test 3 from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

And our longest, fastest run yet.

Panda Team, Successful Test 4 from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

In the end, team Panda is the first to cross a developmental threshold. No longer are they pondering what else they may need to do to make they cart work. Their body suit works, and they are simply making it work better and or repairing it after the abuse of testing. Fixing things to make something work again is much more fun than fixing them to make them work for the first time. The energy is spectacular. In their third run their wheel nearly fell off and their breaking system began to shred. They have many tweaks ahead, but the dream is in sight.

Thursday night is camp fire night. With a summers worth of scrap wood, we prepared to start the tallest fire we felt we could handle. It was a great opportunity to practice doing dangerous things well. We took a risk assessment. Where are the major concerns? How will the fire spread in each worst case scenario? How much water should we have on hand?

The kids come up with and answer all of these questions, and the staff takes precessions just a little further. A whole wheel burrow of water on hand. Several buckets. Metal shovels, and a big fall radius and we are set to start a proper bon fire.

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On more talk on how dangerous fire is. Unlike the drill press of the chop saw, there is no off button. There is no trigger to let go off. Unlike the chop saw or the drill press which can only hurt us, if we mess up we burn down Elkus. The kids take note.
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We make out own torches. Another dangerous thing to do well. Another risk assessment.
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We throw saw dust in the fire. Another risk assessment.
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We smother the fire, play in the smoke and steam, and then head to bed.

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Tomorrow we push through our limits and either meet great success, or spectacular failure.

There is a lot of love for our beach day tradition. This week we needed it. The tinkering required for our project is fine and full of little adjustments. Even with down hill tests underway, a break from the project is a good idea. It reduces stress, and makes room for the brain to do even better problem solving.

At breakfast we set out the plan. Eat up, play with the chickens and and on the swing, make our sandwiches for lunch later, pack up, head out. Easy. After reminding the kids to bring their swim suit even if they don’t think they are going in, double check that everyone has water, and triple check we all have towels, we head out the door.

Without prompt or explanation, the crew starts digging a hole.

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And soon, the project is abandoned. Beach day is just perfect for this kind of fits and starts creation. Try a thing out, explore its limits, engage, or don’t.

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Our “fort” sufferes a similar fate.
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The sun is out and we are lucky to have what might be the nicest beach day all summer. With the warmth promising us a cozy return, we dive into the frigid ocean waters.

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Many are quick to remind Josh how many times he had said “Don’t forget your bathing suit” only to have forgotten his.
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Beach run

After so much splashing and playing, a little rest a a few naps, the tinkering spirit is renewed. A raft was in the future.

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Nik and Nick begun gathering the wood they will need for their raft.
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Oren starts working on a prototype
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Nik and Nick find a crab.
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Bryn helps Oren prep some lashing.
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Ana busts out some yoga.
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Amedeo takes the stage as others prepare for another splash.
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Christie, on of our amazing collaborators.
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Nik and Nick imagining how successful their raft will be.

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Christie shows us how to make nearly-perfectly-round sand spheres.
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The raft is ready for launch.

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Launch!

Raft Launch from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

The final result.
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Our lashing technique needs some work. The most obvious lesson was that we needed more twine.

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Rory makes a sand sphere.
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Josh finds a sweet cup rolling in the waves.
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And on our way back, after we are back on campus and at a safe cursing speed, we enjoy a ride on the outside of the car. A long time favorite.

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Tomorrow, its back to work.

A slower morning greets us as we adjust to our new surroundings. Breakfast is at 7:30, but unlike yesterday, half the girls and all the boys have to be jostled from their beds. Lessons are learned fast as the few stragglers found themselves without bacon (thought plenty of everything else).

Those who were up early and finished early head down to the chickens to let them out of their pen. Yesterday we had learned that all the animals are kept inside at night because of the ever present threat of mountain lions. The chickens are the one animal we are allowed to let out without a staff member present.

We head to the barn and get cracking.

Nik (not Nick) and Oren are already moving and thinking the moment we start the day
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Ana gets right down to prepping the 5/16th’s in threaded rod we will need to use as axels in out arm wheel boxes.
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Nick (not Nik) hops on the drill press. An idea is bubbling in his brain and nothing this morning will slow him down or deter his deep need for a prototype.
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Jonah and Nik have big dreams about how their break will work. They also have high hopes about testing those big dreams by this afternoon.
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Cutting through steel is a Tinkering School special. We don’t use to many fancy tools. We don’t have an angle grinder on hand; nor a dremel. We take out hack saws and just start cutting. Every week the staff’s intuitive assumption that steel bolts and threaded rod are just as changeable as wood always startles a camper.

Camper: “We need a bolt about three inches long or longer”

Staff: “I’ve got some threaded rod, you can use it”

*Staff member hands over a 3 foot long piece of all-thread stock.*

Camper: “This is way too long!”

Staff: “Just cut it”

Camper: “You can’t cut steel.”

Staff: “What? oh! Right. Let me introduce you too the hacksaw, I think you two may become friends.”

Or something to that effect.

It’s one of many less than subtle moments we hope for. One that shows the world is malleable. The shape of things is changeable, and best of all, you can be the agent of that change.

Cameron making best friends with a hacksaw.
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Goat in their food tub.
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Ana doing flat ground tests with Kablooi’s new leg pieces.
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Incase anyone was wondering, this is Piki’s piece of wood.
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Joey enjoys a chicken break.
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The kids have named this chicken Rainbow. Everybody loves and respects rainbow. She is old and very colorful and pretty and the kids often tell each other to just leave her be.
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In the younger groups all chop saw and drill press use is directly supervised. The kids have taken to this quite naturally. “Josh! Can you come watch my cut?” They don’t ask for advice. They know the safety procedure. They don’t look to us for approval. They simply take it as a matter of fact that we are there for their safety. Also, they always get it right.

Josh supervises Ana’s cut.
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Nick is confident about the teams new leg pieces.
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Yoel changes the length of some threaded rod.
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Rory hangs with the team.
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The lighting gets dramatic and Gretchen strikes a pose.
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Nooi is done with their braided strap and discusses their next action plan.
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Yoel and Nick do some adjustments. The team is realizing that the torso piece doesn’t fit everyone equally well.
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Rory thinks through something interesting.
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Joey and Megan play with a new idea.
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Rory practices fire starting with a torch sparker.
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This finger knitted paracord is both stronger and more comfy than the webbing. It is also much harder to make and use.
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Tinkering is a tricky think to define. Gever likes to consider it the time between when you think you are done, and when it really works well. Josh likes the notion that tinkering is the process of finding increasingly interesting ways to fail. By either definition, it was not until midday today that the tinkering really begins. What was once a world of infinite and dream like possibilities is now one quickly hardened by the realities of supply constraints, time constraints, and skill limitations. Ideas are becoming things and things can be put to the test. Things can be rolled on the wood floor to see if they hold up. Things can be put on asphalt and unprotected knees can get scraped. Turning systems and brakes can be tested against gravity, only for everyone to be very happy they had someone standing by, ready to grab their harness when nothing worked quite right.

The first two days where struggling with making things. Today is about struggling with our things not working.

Nooi starts their first flat ground test.
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Nick discovers he can’t get back up without help.
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Megan is delighted by the results of their first test.
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Ana prepares for the first ever asphalt test
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Gretchen follows suit.
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Right now, it’s best if the Piki team straps Jonah in while is in on the ground.
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Piki takes a test run from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

The man, the myth, the legend himself shows up for a surprise visit. Gever stops in to say hi and see how the week is progressing.

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Afterwards we settle in for movie night. After a day of finding increasingly interesting and refined ways to fail, we are all exhausted and excited for a little distraction. The enchanting power of movies is made clear as all the kids sit in complete silence (only broken to laugh) and Josh accomplishes exactly nothing on the evening blog post. All so we can watch the growing and complicated relationship between a man and a rat while learning a thing or two about the power of food, friendship, honesty and how we decide our identity. (Ratatouille, for the curious).

Tomorrow is beach day. We are all excited for beach day.

On day 2 we wake up early. Struggling to sit calmly in bed as the excitement of a new place keeps everyone’s energy levels high. With a younger group we are moving bed time up a bit, and having breakfast a little earlier than usual.

After some turkey sausage, eggs and english muffins, we head down to the barn. The first hour of the day is a mix of finishing up our chairs and doing some open build.

Nick gets on his protective gear as he prepares to help some campers on the chop saw.
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Megan and Kevin work on Megan’s chair.
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Yoel goes digging through our wheel collection.
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Rory is working on various way to prop wood so she can work independently
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Megan, Joey, Gretchen and Ana opted to make a 4 person bench instead of individual chairs.
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Then we gather around to announce the teams and the project. Piki, Kablooi, Nooi and Panda teams are announced and every one sits with their group around the central table. Josh attempt’s to build tension before the big reveal.

Instead of giving the idea a name right away. A picture is shown. “We are going to build this.”

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“Imagine it. A rolling body suit. You could just walk around until you find a nice hill, lay down and cruise.”

Imaginations light up, pens hit paper and each team is off.

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Wheels are dolled out, wood limitations are explained, and the prototyping begins. Everyone quickly agrees that strap/webbing would be way more effective than rope so a hardware store run is done and each team is given 20 feet of strap.

Ideas come in and out of our heads while we look for one that will have traction. Cameron plays with different casters.

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Jonah makes a precision cut.
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Yoel and Nick work on torso measurements for their chest piece.
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Rory explores their first rough draft of chest piece.
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After lunch Kathi (not Kathy, not Kathie, but Kathi) the science teacher on staff at Elkus Ranch gives us the animal tour. She explains how to treat each animal, who we are allowed to hang out with and pet. What animals eat what food.

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Kathi takes a moment to show us what happens to your teeth if you don’t brush.
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Megan makes a connection with the goats.
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Nick makes a connection with the chickens.
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Joey embracing a new friend.
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Gretchen works on her team’s arm mounts.
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Bryn Models as the first chest piece takes shape.
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Joey and Greta hack saw through some threaded rod.
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Then they take a break.
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Our first prototype takes shape. As with all prototypes, it has some flaws.

D7K 8612 from Tinkering School on Vimeo.

Even a rough start feels like success when you own every step of the process.
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Ana shows off another team’s prototype.
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This tying-things-on is catching on. I am curious if refinement with make it work, or if it will, out of neceessity, be left behind.
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Bryn puts some final details in as the day wraps up.
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Jonah tests another group’s chest piece.
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In just 3 meals, a tradition forms. “Josh! whats our mind blowing discussion for this meal?” asks Nick. Gever started, and Josh and the collaborators continue a tradition of heady philosophy and mathematical anomalies. Yesterday we tried to wrap our head around the idea that different infinities can be bigger or smaller than other infinities. We also debated when something made by humans goes from “natural” to “unnatural” (a very unsettled debate) and which Pokemon was the best. Today it was a long fable about an old boat that led to a discussion about where identity comes from. Some of these conversation stick, many don’t, but they all engage in the moment and add to a culture and atmosphere where thinking is cool, debate is welcome, and the answers are not nearly as important as the process.

Afterwards, some kids head down to the barn with Nick (the junior collaborator) for some more open build time. Some head to the tire swings with Oren to wind down. Some stay here and play board games.

Then everyone heads to bed.

Day one is a nice slow day. Josh is back to take the reins from Gever for a week, but this time it’s planned. No 1am text about pink eye and plan b.

The parents and kids roll in slowly throughout the hour and the energy levels are controlled but full of anticipation. For all but a few campers, this is their first time at tinkering school and they don’t know what to expect. For some, it is their first overnight camp experience.

We start the day on a serious note. It’s designed to scare and impart a serious tone around the tools we use. The tools are dangerous. They are explicitly designed to cut through wood. We are much softer than wood. If we use the tools right, they will never hurt us. If is miss use them or underestimate them, the ramifications could be terrible.

Together we write our rules. Josh is a big nut for collective agreements over at the day camp. “Don’t kill, or try to kill, anyone else” is a particularly straightforward one this week. We all agreed it was a great rule.

The pace on monday is sluggish, and these 8-10 year olds handle it with grace. We’ll have the rest of the week to rush. We walk through some safety and use the chop saw’s and drills.

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The kids line up to take their turn at the chop saw.

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Joey takes the first go with the most popular power tool.

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Gretchen on the chop saw.

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Megan has her hair safely tied back.

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Rory on the chop saw.

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Ana lines up a clean cut.

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Amadeo on the chop saw.

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Yoel on the chop saw.

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The group explores drills.

After exploring drills and driving some screws Josh starts the first of a series of demonstrations designed to jumpstart our intuition. How are screws strong? How can you connect 1×4 on edge and make it feel sturdy? The crowd favorite is Oren (one of our collaborators this week) and Josh’s ongoing rant that clamps are your ticket to freedom. Clamps are like big adult hands without the adults. In fact, adults use them all the time. They allow for independence of creation. They are Tinkering Schools first major bridge into resiliency and self direction.

These problems are interesting, but over the years we’ve discovered that they are fundamentally slow to catch on without direct instruction. Clamps could go undiscovered for the whole week. Discovering the notion of pre-drilling could cost us half of our usable wood through split ends and week joint. We address these clearly and early on so that we might get to more interesting problems with stronger feedback mechanisms as soon as possible. Does the roller coaster go? Does the boat float? Can we break safely? and so on.

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Bryn does a pull up on our 1×4 model, demonstrating how much stronger wood can get by adding the right piece at the right cross section.

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Joey puts all her weight on the 1×4.

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Maybe we should do a week where we make gym equipment?

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In a quick demonstration of the power of a lever arm, josh ends the pull up fun.

Form there we move to our first challenge. Build a chair out of no more than 12 total feet of wood. Tired of demos and safety lessons and eager to get building, the kids dive right in.

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Megan and Rory get measuring.

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Ana is very focussed on a big idea.

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Ana does yoga on Josh’s hyper minimalist example piece.

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Oren and Yoel work out some details.

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Jonah takes his ticket to freedom, a newly found understanding of conner guesting, and get right on his way to making a sturdy chair.

After cleaning up we head up the the house for some amazing dinner with Herb, our chef. After a few rounds of Pass the Pigs, a game of spoons, and some spider hunting, we call light out and head to bed.

This could become a habit – tonight’s blog is co-written by Serena and Lauren

Yes, we woke up. Yes, we ate breakfast, and yes, we played outside. But we didn’t grab the camera until we got to the barn at 9am and had been working for fifteen minutes.

Adam, Mori, and Eloise bring the Nooi contraption up to the flat stretch of road near the ranch house for a first test.
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Lauren works with Zachary to cut a new steering post for Zachary’s scooter.
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Aaaah! A bat! (Mori)
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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Griffin in Safety Gear
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Work in the barn is a many-handed affair.
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Two friends from New York (Griffin and Mori), inseparable in Manhattan, inseparable at Elkus Ranch.
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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Liora
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It looks like Brigid might have an idea. A sneaky idea…
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Brigid, Harry, and Liora take the (“awesome”) Panda skateboard gargantua for a ride that turns out to be a little too squirrely
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Gever makes his “serious face”, motioning wildly with his hands as he explains stuff to the Panda team.
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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Emma
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Zachary concentrates as he tests out his newly built scooter. Steering is difficult and requires dedication and focus.
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Eucalyptus leave hats are all the rage – Liora tries on the newest style. The goats like this latest fashion development too – eucalyptus leaves are tasty treats.
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Liora wants us all to admire her newly made “Panda” cape.
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Noah spends some quality time with a goat.
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Our visitors from Madrid have formed their own team, and in true Tinkering School style, named it – “Vacas Locas.” The kids gather around their newly made tricycle to investigate and give advice.
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Griffin and Mackenzie work together on wheels for Griffin’s scooter.
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Harry attaches a basket to the front of the Panda’s giant skateboard – to hold the repair kit they will need on the road, as Mackenzie looks on.
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Griffin cracks jokes, as he always does. Somehow he can manage to keep a straight face – Lauren can’t.
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Our new friends from Tinkering School Madrid: Inez and Fernando.
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Harry searches for just the right screw.
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Behold the mighty Josh!
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And the mighty Adam!
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Photographic proof – not even Gever is perfect. Here is a first: he tied the wrong knot!
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A ragtag gang of misfits if ever there was one.
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The first team lines up to start: Josh, Griffin and Emma of the Piki.
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And they’re off!
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The Nooi line up, excited for the adventure ahead.
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And they’re off!
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The Kablooi take their fleet to the line, and head off.
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And the Panda follow, Liora and Brigid riding behind. The excitement of the coming journey is in the air.
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And the Panda are off!
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A few yards into the ride, the Panda teams 2×4, which connected their bike to their skateboard, split. They stop to repair it.
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Liora bends down to remove the bolt.
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And Harry drills a new hole. The Panda head for the road, and the truck heads for the first pit stop.
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The Panda’s skateboard, after a successful 1/2 a mile after repairs, breaks down again – this time, it’s the wheel – the left one is screwed on too tight and can’t spin. We carry the ship back.
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Harry and Noah celebrate – they’ve reached the first pit stop, and have repaired their respective vehicles.
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Eloise, Mori, Josh and Mackenzie wait at the second pit stop. They’re excited to see the truck – the truck means food.
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Serena leans out the side of the truck to line up for a shot.
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Lauren leads the way, practically racing her bike, as the second two teams emerge at the second pit stop.
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Noah examines the crack in the side of his 2×4, wondering how best to repair it. Inscribed on his hand is his favorite song of the night before: “We are going to be friends.”
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The Panda and the Kablooi depart the second pit stop- refueled and ready to hit the road.
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The retrieve and chase logistics get complicated as the two blocks of teams get further apart. We all meet up at the end of the trail and load up, then head home for a delicious dinner and our last session of
free-build. We light a small fire, and hold a sing along, enjoying our last evening in one-another’s company. The middlers have no set bedtime on Friday night, so its home to the house for card games and discussions.

Thanks to Serena who took the blog reins tonight!

Morning dawns, and we get ready to begin a new and exciting day.
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Building on the skills developed during the chariot races, Gever presents the new challenge – wheel your entire team down four and a half miles down the Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail. We head to the barn to discuss and plan.
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In order to begin, we must first access and divide the scrap pile – and then for the fun part, the gathering and examining of the wheels. New teams are assembled for the new challenge – Piki: Griffin, Emma and Josh, Kablooi: Lauren, Noah, Zachary, Nooi: Adam, Eloise and Mori, and the Panda: Liora, Harry and Brigid.
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Our new guests from Madrid have come to learn how Tinkering School works. Adam explains and guides them through proper chop-saw operation.
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The newly formed Panda team, Liora, Harry and Brigid begin to assemble their tandem skateboard.
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Emma’s (not quite complete) scooter goes for a test run.
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Just before being sent back to the house to put on real shoes, Noah hangs ten on his mini board.
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Harry takes a nose dive as he tries out the Panda skateboard.
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And of course, after a new start, we need a new goat break.
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It is terrible to see such suffering on the faces of young and innocent children. Griffin suffers along through the abysmal sweat shop conditions.
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In the cathedral of the barn, Gever and Mackenzie kneel at the altar of tinkering as they discuss difficult design choices.
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Lunch has become home to a secret reading society. Head of this, is, of course, Lauren.
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Emma at work on her prototype.
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Adam at work on yet another mount for their scooter-sidecars.
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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Mori the Monster
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Brigid gets a plumber’s tape tutorial.
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Emma works on a brake for her scooter.
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Harry’s work with plumber’s tape comes to a screeching halt when he sees the clementines arrive.
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Caravaggio’s got nothing on us. Noah working on his scooter.
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Brigid tries out the Panda’s tandem skateboard – will it hold her?
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Lauren works on a parts basket for the Kablooi bicycle.
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Gever asks for advice on the placement of his new hat – “Do I look more intelligent with it in back? Or in front?” Lauren and Zachary wonder what has come over the director of Tinkering School, but offer their opinions.
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Mackenzie and Griffin share a moment of mutual appreciation as they work out the details of Griffin’s scooter.
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And this happened. (Mori)
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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Josh
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Noah builds a steering handle for his scooter.
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Zachary works on his scooter – there will be squadrons of scooters tomorrow.
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During the afternoon lull, we decide to take a hike break.
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Little did they know, that the “little” hike was about to become an adventure.
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Eloise demonstrates how to properly jump over a fence – wearing a big grin.
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“Let’s take this well graded road! It must lead somewhere… ” – these might of been the last words of Doctor Livingstone.
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A well graded road becomes a somewhat groomed trail – but it’s no trouble for us tinkerers. We press on.
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From a hillside down into a verdant canyon. Suddenly, we aren’t quite as sure of where we are.
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Refusing all of Serena’s efforts to give (sound) advice, Noah tests his scooter without handle bars. It looks like this.
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When his doesn’t work, he borrows Griffin’s.
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Noah plays tube toss, using Griffin as a post. A moving one.
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A short trip to the eucalyptus grove is declared necessary. On the way back, eucalyptus on top a’flyin’, the truck returns triumphant.
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Gever on the top of the truck. Again.
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Thursday evening barbecue- Brigid gets cozy with her burger as Liora looks on.
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Another well loved Thursday night tradition is the campfire. We all gather up to enjoy its heat and one another’s company.
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And we roast marshmallows.
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Gever and Mackenzie harmonize on the John Prine classic – Angel from Montgomery.
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Tonight we feast on s’mores. Tomorrow will be a new adventure.
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After two days of very intense work, we pause and go to the beach.
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We immediately get busy doing the things we all love to do. Read, eat, build, laugh.
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The beach day is also a day when the staff gets to relax and just fool around.
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Portrait of a Young Tinkerer: Adam at the Beach
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All day long, the sky was filled with birds.
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Griffin, Mori, and Adam took it upon themselves to repair and renovate a ramshackle fort.
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And a clubhouse was born.
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Portrait of a Young Tinkerer: Mori at the Beach
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Zachary made a few versions of something very bow-like.
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Emma went into the sea, and the sea paid attention.
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The rest went into the sea and splashed around like giddy monkeys.
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Emma places a call on the kelp-phone.
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Eloise, Adam, and Mackenzie chase the seagulls.
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Sorting and collecting is a long-time favorite pastime.
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And birds kept happening.
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And forts kept happening.
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And tinkerers got buried (Zachary).
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And Eloise buried her self.
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And founders took naps.
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And this happened (Lauren and Zachary).
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“Hold on, just one sec.”
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Harry and Eloise dispose of Emma’s body.
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Griffin evaluates his options.
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And then back to the ranch for salmon and chicken dinner.
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Should you wake up one day and find yourself mysteriously transported to a breakfast table somewhere in Northern California, one clue that you are at Tinkering School may be the abundance of knife-wielding children.
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There’s a mere three work hours until we head to the track, so everyone is eager to get back to work in the barn. Griffin stabilizes the Nooi chariot hitch.
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Lauren works on the Kablooi wheel mounts (with rakish caster angle).
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Harry measures the post length for the Kablooi hitch.
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Liora and Eloise try another variation on their flexible hitch bar design for the Piki chariot.
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Noah takes Liora for a test ride through the barn on the Piki chariot.
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And out into the world, down the road to the chicken coop!
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Harry lays in the elbow grease and hacksaws through the Kablooi hitch bolt.
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Serena gives Griffin a hand as he attaches the (ill-fated) back rest to the Nooi chariot.
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Brigid and Griffin carry the Nooi prototype down to the asphalt flats by the chicken coop for testing.
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Flat out flabbergasted by the (minor) destruction of the Nooi chariot during testing, Brigid hangs on to the inner tube for comfort.
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Lauren (the indefatigable) employs clamps enthusiastically.
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Harry’s chair continues to serve him well.
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Liora’s mastery of the chop saw is visible in the precision of her cuts and the confidence with which she announces “ready to cut!”
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Lorena says that Mori looks a little like a bandit from the hills of Venezuela.
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Adam, Josh, and Emma diagnose a Panda steering problem.
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“Where is that scraping sound coming from?”
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We all arrive at the kitchen hungry and happy to see such a delicious spread.
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Enjoy the sleek lines of the Kablooi chariot.
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Piki team mates Eloise and Liora put the final, final, touches on their hitch bar mounting bracket.
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After being stripped down to bare bones, the Nooi chariot is up on blocks and getting a full re-build in the hour before we load up for the trip to the test track.
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A loaded trailer is just an excuse to ride down on the outside of the truck as we head to the track for testing.
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Then, much fooling around commences as the teams try their chariots for the first time on good smooth paving.
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With all the chariots rolling, it’s time to line up for the first official test laps!
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With words of advice from Lauren, Mori takes the first leg of the race with Harry riding in the chariot.
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Banner flying, Noah and Liora take the Piki (the very best team according to Liora, who is up late after her adventures tonight helping Serena and I write the blog) chariot out on it’s first race lap.
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Then, it’s Josh and Emma’s (Panda) turn to join the try a test lap.
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Griffin and Brigid (Nooi) take a lap on our asphalt hippodrome.
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Griffin pulls hard as he and Brigid cross the finish line.
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Then it’s time for real racing. In the first heat, Mori gets up on the pedals for a jack-rabbit start. The Kablooi set the time to beat with 01:53.
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And Lauren takes over for the second lap.
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Noah and Eloise (Piki) at the start line.
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Noah picked up Liora at the lap turn and brings her across the finish line.
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Emma and Josh carry speed across the finish line.
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Griffin and Zachary take off on the newly re-built Nooi chariot.
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And then execute a perfect relay transition as Brigid leaps on board the moving chariot.
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“He put a lot of heart into that run,” spectators will later say about Griffin’s spectacular effort.
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Liora, native of Istanbul, checks to see if she still remembers how to ride a bike – turns out she’s a boss!
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Between heats, Emma and her teammates decide that their chariot is just too heavy.
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Making the first lap turn of the second heat, Mori and Harry keep up the blistering pace of their first heat.
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And a high-speed hand-off to Lauren for the second lap.
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Which she polishes off with a blazing run down the final straight stretch to the finish line.
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Lauren tries to psyche out the competition by challenging Brigid to a staring contest.
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Liora pulls into the relay turn with Noah holding down the chariot.
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And, in a first for the race, Noah moves from the chariot to the bike and Eloise takes over in the tail seat.
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Losing a bit of steam, Noah coasts across the finish line as Eloise goes hands-up – wheee!
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Griffin sets up his patented power-stroke for the start and Zachary double checks the cantilevered shock absorber.
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The axle on the Nooi started to bow upward on the start of the lap and allowed the wheels to rub on the supports necessitating a new strategy most accurately described as “get out and push.”
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Determined to complete the course and get a valid time, and with Brigid sitting this one out due to a bad shin scrape from the first heat, Griffin and Zachary swing through the relay turn and press on for another lap.
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A heroic effort and an inspiring, but very late, finish.
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Exhilarated after a day of amazing racing, Mori leaps on to the truck for the ride home.
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Noah and Griffin talking smack on the parking lot rails after the truck is loaded.
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------ Official Results ------
Teams:
Piki	- Liora, Eloise, Noah
Nooi	- Griffin, Brigid, Zachary
Kablooi	- Lauren, Mori, Harry
Panda	- Emma, Josh, Adam

First Heat Results:
Kablooi - 01:53
Piki	- 01:56
Panda	- 02:08
Nooi	- 02:45

Second Heat Results:
Kablooi	- 01:53
Piki	- 01:35
Nooi	- 03:54 (running)
Panda	- DQ (chariot broke)

Kablooi - Most Consistent on the Track
Piki	- Fastest Time Overall (01:35)
Panda	- Most Changed Cart Between Rounds
Nooi	- Most Determined (running)

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