Monthly Archives

August 2015

Tinkering Camp Day 5—Play time!

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IMG_8594By: Tricia Schuster, SJA Parent

Breezy, sunny, 70 degrees. Kids running—sprinting—from their cars to their projects & their teammates. Everyone wearing team-color t-shirts and bandanas. Strange bamboo and volcano structures appearing on the field. It is a beautiful day.

Mark calls morning meeting, and we make a plan. Kids head off to add finishing touches, but today the adults have some surprises. They are working fast and furiously and three new challenges—and a brick wall holding up a finish line gate—seem to literally grow up out of the grass. Our challenge course has taken over the entire lacrosse field. Read More

Tinkering Camp Day 4—Testing 1,2,3

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By: Tricia Schuster, SJA Parent

tc9Yesterday morning we took stock of where we are—time to test the cars. With Rolling Lightning already hill-certified, the girls reach the bottom next. Dance party breaks out.

Next up, Team Swedish Batman Hello Kitties. We’re all waiting. And still waiting. And the boys are futzing around. Taking helmets on and off. Changing pilots. Changing rope. And at some point, after more prodding, they give Mark a look that says “You don’t really expect us to actually ride down that hill in this thing?” But Mark—and all the other kids too—they believe, so we all keep prodding, and soon enough the rad-painted sprint car with the fin on top is loaded and ready for launch. We discuss physics and safety—how fast will this cart travel and why? what are the dangers inherent in its design? how can they be minimized? A super loud 1-2-3, they launch, and before you can worry, they’re safely at the bottom. Totally intact. And the boys pretend they knew all along that the trip and the car would be epic because, of course, they made it themselves. Read More

Tinkering Camp Day 3—Breakthroughs

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By: Tricia Schuster, SJA Parent

tc1A pattern emerges. First, inspiration; activity; quick, easy, success. Then, upon testing, or planning next steps, challenges appear. More meetings are called in the Mist Room (the girls have even abbreviated—they just look at each other and say “MMR” ); more time is spent on the swings. The kids start checking out each other’s projects, or just wading around in the materials. Stalling, thinking, playing, thinking. Total re-evaluation. And then, the BIG BREAKTHROUGH. The group finds a way through together. The plan becomes clear. Everyone is engaged. And almost instantly, BIG things start to appear. Really big. Like, 10-foot high big, have-to-build-up-as-we-go-so-we-can-reach-our-next-piece big. When the Breakthrough happens, it is AWESOME. Read More

Tinkering Camp Day 2—Raising & Rolling

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By: Tricia Schuster, SJA Parent

Focus was the vibe yesterday at Camp Tinker. The kids all arrived early, skipped pleasantries, and got right to work—they were on a mission. We nonetheless gathered them together for a quick morning meeting to set goals for the day: (1) each team should have a flag raised by noon or risk being dissolved into the other teams; and (2) each team should have a vehicle-in-progress that rolls by end-of-day. After morning meeting, the boys had only one question—can we go back to work NOW! Apparently, nothing motivates middle school boys like the idea that they might have to work with middle school girls for the rest of the week—and vice versa. All flags happily flapping in the wind by 10:30 am—an hour and 1/2 ahead of Read More

Day 1 of Tinkering Camp—Finding our Rhythm

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By: Tricia Schuster, SJA Parent

Yesterday was the first day of our first Tinkering Camp. After months of discussion, weeks of organizing, and days of gathering materials, we were ready to build something HUGE. By 9am our materials and tools were in place, our canteen was stocked, and our “mist tent” was spewing water. Campers began to arrive. No one knew exactly what to expect, but everyone was excited.

Mr. Letersky called in the troops and unveiled our challenge: using any of the new building materials or remnants in the “ boneyard” each team must: (1) raise a team flag; and (2) build a vehicle, piloted, ridden in or propelled by all team members down the steep field slope, and (3) build a “challenge” through which all teams (including your own!) must pass in order to reach the finish line. Read More

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