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Tinkering School

The Blog of the Sleep-Away Program at Elkus Ranch – Updated every night during camp

Category / 2012 Session 5 – Seniors

Day Six – Burning the Midnight Oil

Friday Night, August 24th, 11:42pm

It is quarter to midnight, and seven tinkerers are up with me as I write the blog. Three of them are playing Texas Hold ‘em, two are playing Spades, one of them is playing bass, and one is just watching the whole scene. We don’t impose curfew on Friday nights with the Seniors group. It’s a nice time to hang out and enjoy the transitory bittersweet nature of the relationships that we have spent the week building, wallowing in a proactively nostalgic atmosphere.

By the end of breakfast, we’d decided to rebuild the track, to flatten out the turns and figure out how to deal with the excess speed. We’re going for distance and thrill. And, when we saw the hay bale smash into the door frame at fourteen miles per hour, nobody thought it looked like fun.

So we head back to the drawing board to figure out everything we have to dismantle, and everything we will have to build – today.
IMG 6288 Continue Reading

Day Four – Going to the Beach, Tinkering School Style

Wednesday Night, August 22nd, 11:35pm

A great educator friend, Steve Davee, once told me, “if they are right in the thick of it, going strong, then that can be the perfect time to take a break – that way they are gung-ho to get started when they come back to it.” I’d like to retroactively claim that that is exactly what I was thinking when I started doing beach day, because it seems so obvious now that he’s pointed it out to me.

There was palpable excitement as we drove down to the beach, but there were also a lot of “we’re going to work on the roller coaster tomorrow, right?” checks. It’s clear that the whole group feels that going to the beach is a good idea, but let’s not forget that we’re all building a roller coaster.

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The morning starts with some paddle building and last minute tweaks to the boats. Some of these boat designs are radical (to say the least) and “tuning” them up is deemed important. Continue Reading

Day Three – We Interrupt this Broadcast

Tuesday, August 21st, 11:43pm

We laughed, we ate tacos, we played, and we built – at every opportunity, we built. From immediately after breakfast, right through to dinner and then back again after. These are my favorite days at Tinkering School, when the projects are so provocative and engaging that meals are seen as interruptions.

Althea took up a position on the track factory making units for the first turn.
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