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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Gardener’s got a new side-project going but he won’t divulge any details. But drilling a hole in a stick is interesting enough to Elijah to lend a hand.

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Miles explains the need for a railing on top of the newly erected (and still somewhat wobbly) platform. He’s got Leo convinced, and they peel off to plan.

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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Natalie has the tools and skills to get the job done.

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While Miles gets things together for the railing, Leo gets to work on attaching the cross-braces that will hopefully take the wobble out of the platform.

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In the video game of Natalie’s life, she has two lives left. We can report that her health is at 100% and she has no damage points. Also, her sack-of-infinite-holding is chock-full.

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Oh good, Gardner has just powered up.

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Isaac discovers that the right way to get your weight on a screw can sometimes make a person long for a prehensile tail.

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Ethan, Elijah, and Tara decide to go ahead and mount the temporary casters on the cart while we await the arrival of the new casters.

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With the turn units constructed, the track team sets up the parts to see how if they got the calculations right. It’s going to be close, but it looks like it can work – if the cart can stay on the track.

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Our hunger for 2×4 grows stronger every day. No board is safe from Natalie, who is willing to remove giant eye-bolts to recover a three-foot scrap.

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Isaac looks on intently – perhaps wondering how she can operate a drill so easily without hanging upside down from a piece of track – while Althea sets one of the tricky screws.

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Miles puts the finishing touches on the new platform railing by adding a block of wood, cut at an angle, that links the two halves of skateboard deck that he decided to use as railing crossbars.

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Natalie puts her recently recovered piece of 2×4 in place; another rung in the new ladder that leads to the finished platform.

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Gardener sees Gever doing an experiment with the chop saw and volunteers to help out. Gever wants to try a new lincoln-log inspired way of connecting a eucalyptus pole to a 2×4.

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Gardener’s job is to remove the wood from the new notch that Gever made by making many parallel cuts in the pole.

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The new, improved cart is ready for it’s first rolling test. Elijah agrees to stop it before it runs off the unfinished end of the track.

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A quick check reveals that the new wheel design is affording excellent clearance on the track Рlooks like the cart should be able to handle the 18° changes in track angle.

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Gever likes rinsing out the compost bucket because it gives him a chance to throw water.

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After lunch, we announce a pause in the roller coaster project – tomorrow is beach day, and boats are needed! When we return to the barn, Gever and Josh introduce new materials: PVC pipe, plastic tarps, and Gorilla tape. Excitement all around!

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Gever draws out a few simple ideas about boat design in general, and working with PVC pipe in specific.

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Contrary to how it may appear now, I do recall that his drawing made pretty good sense at the time…

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The Piki team, Althea, Isaac, and Leo, examines their materials and then gets to work.

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The Kablooi team, Miles, Gardner, and Elijah, start drawing boat designs that they think could work.

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The tricky thing about this afternoon challenge is that the supplies are severely limited. Each team gets: 3 3/4″ pipes, 3 1/2″ pipes, one tarp, and one roll of Gorilla tape.

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Your Daily Goat: this yearling’s horns are longer than she thinks, and for the third time already this week, she’s gotten her head stuck through the fence. Sam and Gever rescue her with the help of a wire cutter and a spool of fence repair wire.

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The teams want the ends of their pipes to fit together nicely (since we didn’t supply any of the standard fittings), so Gever set up a pipe grooving jig on the drill press. It’s a bit of a tricky operation, that Tara seems to master quickly.

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Elijah gives the whole rig his vote of approval after making short work of grooving the ends of a length of pipe.

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The Kablooi boat suddenly starts to look like a boat.

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Tara passes her pipe grooving tips on to Natalie.

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The Nooi team, Tara, Natalie, Ethan, and Sam, is not as far along as the others, but they are making a skiff with some complicated joints.

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The Piki boat suddenly has a skeleton.

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The joints are getting better as the teams make more of them in the course of assembling their boats. Learning and practicing in the context of doing and making – one of the central ideas here at Tinkering School (and Brightworks).

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As the day wears on, Gever tries to calculate the displacement of a banana-shaped boat.

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We don’t know why, but Christie and Natalie are often seen laughing and giggling together.

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Looks like the latest addition to the Piki boat has got Althea pretty excited.

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When their boat exceeds the size of the work area in the barn, the Piki take their winged craft out to the yard to finish building it. Gever wonders if they have thought about how it will fit on the trailer.

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With their frame finished, the Piki start to figure out how to wrap a waterproof skin on to a complicated shape.

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Meanwhile, the Kablooi perform a “can two of us fit in our boat” test on their nearly completed frame.

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Ethan fits another cross-brace onto the floor of the Kablooi boat.

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With Gorilla tape expended, the teams decide to lace the tarp to the frames.

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Over a dinner of tacos and salad, the conversation returns to the themes of the day; immortality, boat design, and free will.

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After dinner, everyone wants to go back up to the barn and finish skinning their boats.

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Some of the lacing looks downright professional.

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The nightshift miners (Sam and Gardner) prepare to descend into the dark depths of the coal seam.

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Tara works in the darkening gloom to tighten up the skin on the Piki boat.

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And here’s what that looks like to the human eye.

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Natalie lends Tara a hand when the tarp starts misbehaving.

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The Piki boat gets hung up for safe storage over night.

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Elijah uses the night shift to finish up a pontoon for their outrigger.

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The fun we make, is the best fun there is.