We managed to make it through breakfast and up to the barn before the kids convinced Gever to tell them what the big project is this week. Inspired by the team railboats from Session 2, Gever challenges the Session 3 tinkerers to build an actual train, with three cars and an engine. Two of the collaborators take on the engine car and that leaves the teams to create individual cars that will link together to form a train.
“An actual, real train?” asks one of the tinkerers.
“Yes,” says Gever, “an actual train, powered by sail, on train tracks. A Sailtrain.”

But first, Saya has to check in with the goats.
P1950817For those of you watching the game from home, the team lineups look like this for the sailtrain project:
Piki: Lauren, Adam, Jane, with Collaborator Kami
Nooi: Josh, Bryn, Amelia, Brigid, with Collaborator Steve
Kablooi: James, Jonah, Saya, Zada, with Koblaborator Anita

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The Nooi settle down on the lower deck for a serious brainstorming session.

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Gever meets with the engine team to make sure they are thinking big enough. The engine will have to pull three cars – they’ll need a tall mast and very big sail – good thing Michael Gough loaned us an ancient spinnaker.

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Steve extracts himself from the Nooi brainstorm session to allow them to build some big ideas without an adult looking in.

Looks like they are developing some interesting ideas.

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Zada and Saya of the Kablooi team are imagining a traveling living room with a big TV.

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As a keen observer of the design process, I am always fascinated by the diagrams that the tinkerers create. The Kablooi are exploring some very big ideas.

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The Nooi are hoping to hang matching porch swings on each end of their car. To support the swing, they need a strong frame.

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Over at the chop-saw, the Josh makes his first cuts using the loudest tool at Tinkering School.

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Amelia steps up and gets the saw-handling lesson from Steve.

Then she heads back to driving screws with teammate Bryn.

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Once the Nooi are done hogging the chopsaw, Jane gets a saw lesson from Kami.

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And Ameila and Bryn have become a highly productive porch-swing-making team.

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“One hundred of anything is interesting,” says Gever.

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James makes one last check of the Kablooi plan.

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On the other end of the barn, Jane screws down the Piki decking.

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Portrait of a Photographer in the Lenses of a Tinkerer: Gever in Zada’s sunglasses.

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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Lauren

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James transfers the Kablooi design to their sheet of plywood.

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Theo and Hanna, aka “The Engine Team”, have uncovered another failed wheel on one of the Session Two cars. This one appears to have ground down one whole side of the wheel and then stopped spinning when it heat-welded to the board, at which point it began to have groove chewed in it by the edge of the rail.

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The Nooi have two benches, now how will they suspend them?

For that, they consult with Gever and get a quick, before lunch, hand-drawn lesson in hanging stuff by rope.

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Portrait of a Chicken: After lunch, the tinkerers meet 15 year-old ranch specialist Janna for tour and introduction to the animals. Jane seems to like this one.

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Portrait of a Chicken: Zada finds the most rock-and-roll chicken in the yard and makes friends with it.

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And even though we’ve been feeding the goats for the past 24 hours, everyone takes special delight in feeding them crunchy celery.

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Back at work, the Nooi mock up the frame that will suspend their swing.

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The Engine Team finds another uniquely failed wheel and presents it to Gever for forensic analysis. He thinks that the bearings heated up, the wheel got really soft, and then the bearings just kind of mushed around.

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As a special gift, the Engine Team has produced wheel units for all the teams.

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Brigid (newly arrived due to schedule complications) arrives and jumps right in with the Nooi team to help put together the swing frames.

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With milled lumber running out, the teams decide that what they need is some eucalyptus to work with – a perfect excuse to jump on the truck running-boards and get a ride down to the edge of the property.

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There is something sublime about riding the running-boards. We all feel it, and the kids do too. It is a downright tragedy that there aren’t more cars built with running-boards these days.

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Then we’re back at the Tinkering School eucalyptus patch to harvest a few “thin, strong, straight” saplings.

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Zada takes a lumberjacking turn and brings down a thirty foot tall sapling – right between two big patches of poison oak.

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Josh measures out the felled trees to mark where we will cut them into manageable chunks.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Giggle-fits erupt as Brigid and Amelia crank one of the giant eye-bolts into the swing frame.

Bryn takes a turn at the crank as he gets another of the eye-bolts set in place.

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Hi ho, hi ho, it’s back to the truck we go. Saya, Jane, and Lauren drag the felled trees out of the woods to load on the truck.

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Brigid locks down the bolts that hold the swing frame to the deck.

And Bryn just keeps working on the eye bolts. That guy is unstoppable.

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Saya and Kami help get the newly cut trees loaded on the truck.

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It takes all hands to get the load up on to the roof – Josh and Jane tote and heft.

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Adam waits to make sure that Gever has things under control before letting go of the pole.

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch, Brigid, Amelia, and Bryn have the first of the two porch swings mounted.

Bryn thinks that it works pretty well.

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Down at the eucalyptus grove, they have the truck loaded up and ready to go.

The Nooi reveal another of their design elements – planter boxes!

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Work in the barn comes to a halt at 6pm and the teams clean up the tools and head up to the Ranch House as Gever rings the dinner bell. Tonight is pasta night with red sauce, pesto, and choice of grated cheeses, with a mixed green side salad of lettuce, broccoli, tomato, and cucumber. After such a long day of work, even the pickiest eaters dig in.

Today started at 9am in the barn and we wrapped up nine hours later. Not content to rest on their full bellies, most of the teams returned to the barn after dinner for another hour of build-time. We always hope for these kind of productive days at Tinkering School because it is so fun to watch the tinkerers and collaborators lose track of time.