Posted: April 13th, 2013 | Author: dustin | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
The Tinkerer in Residence program happens every Thursday from 5:30-7:30 (Kraft Family Free Night), and on Fridays and Saturdays from 2:15-3:15 at Chicago Children’s Museum on Navy Pier.
For the first couple of months our tinkerers let some of their favorite programs for Tinkerer Lab loose. Each week featured something different.
Dustin Thacker, lead educator for Tinkering Lab and Director of Tinkering School Chicago was playing with all kinds of ideas!
Week 1. PIano Key Sculpture, nope scratch that : Xylophone.
The first program embodied the flow of a Tinkering experience. Dustin walked into the lab with a tub full of old piano keys and somewhat of an idea (see photo week 2). The first guest who walked up was a 7 year old, who instantly decided that we should make a xylophone. A couple of metal pieces were laying around, that had initially been intended to connect the piano keys, she struck them with a make-shift mallet, a beautiful tone was produced and we created something like this.
By the time this photo was taken the xylophone had been changed, rearranged, deconstructed and reconstructed. The original incarnation, made over a two hour period, did not include the inside of the toy piano (featured top right in the photo). Originally the right-side of the musical contraption was a bunch of bolts, an old wrench, and a small tin bucket. Sounds pretty good still. Tinker Band?
Week 2. Piano Key Sculpture, for real this time
A family of four walks into Tinkering Lab, Dustin introduces himself and the project, the family jumps right in, and with little direction. . . spends about 45 minutes creating this.
The piano keys are off a hundred year old player piano Dustin took apart last year for a Chicago Ideas Week workshop. They were rather fragile, but the 4 year old boy and his nine year old sister quickly mastered the process: pre-drill then slowly place the screws in the center of the key.
Week 3. Marimba
After the wondrous xylophone experiment we were inspired to build a Marimba. On a relatively quiet Thursday night a rather rambunctious 10 year old scoots into Tinkering Lab, ready to rock. He was instantly enthused by the marimba idea and began gathering wood. Once we discovered that each length and then each different kind of wood had a unique tone and timbre the excitement escalated and we played every chunk of scrap wood in the place.
Week 4. Wire Sculptures
After seeing this wicked cool wire sculpture Dustin spent an entire week folding, bending, twisting, cutting, breaking, and generally playing with wire.
Upon entering the program participants were faced with wire cutters, a variety of different types of wire, needle nose pliers and the warning that after you cut the stuff IT IS SHARP.
Although there are no official statistics an interesting pattern emerged. Every group of guest that played with the wire longer than 5 minutes stayed for at least 30 minutes. I suspect that Bending Wire is a strong program if you can some con people it getting into it.
Come on people lets get into it!
Week 5. Remote Controls
What do you do when you are lucky enough to find a box of old laserdisc remote controls at your desk? You break out the little screw drivers and see what is in there. And that is just what Dustin and about 16 other people did for an afternoon. They eventually got fairly in depth about the evolution of the remote control and thoroughly explored the inner workings.
Week 6. Scribbling Machines (aka: Doodle-Bots)
Hacking remote control cars is super fun and functional. Out of the box a remote control car is a riot, but only last for about 10 hours before they break. When they break they still typically still have lots of usable parts.
Elaine, CCM’s master tinkerer for the past few decades, was playing with some old remote control car parts one Friday. Synchronistically Dustin walked into Tinkering Lab after checking out a blog post about doodle-bots and instantly took action. He went and grabbed a big sheet of paper some markers and got to building. Watch our first machine in action here!
The following Saturday Dustin spent most of the afternoon fussing with blocks of wood, motors, wheels, tape and markers. The spirography that ensued engaged visitors as they attempted to coax and modify the hodge-podge of parts to draw. One guest commented
“Oh, perfect, now I can continue to do art while I am eating my lunch!”
Week 7. Makey Makey
The Maker Education Iniative is awesome! CCM is a host site for 18-22 year olds interested in Maker Education this summer. 3 Students will be working in Tinkering Lab creating programs and taking it the next level.
As part of this partnership we received a box of goodies in the mail. Dustin was most excited for the Makey Makey. Check it out here.
Playing Horns with Wrenches!
Weeeeeeeeeee!!!!! Limitless possibilities!
Week 8. Make: It Fly Prototype
During April and May we will be tinkering with lift, drag, balance and the other things that make beautifully weird little creations fly.
Inspired by the Tinkering Studio at the Exploritorium we mess around with paper, foam, cups, wooden stirrers and other stuff and see what happens!
Click HERE to watch a video preview!
Posted: June 25th, 2012 | Author: dustin | Filed under: Camp, Education, Uncategorized | No Comments »
We had such a fantastic week of camp. Allow me to introduce the people whose passion, hard-work, and limit-less abilities made it incredible.
Patrick Downs, currently employed at the Chicago Childrens Museum, is a lifelong tinkerer. Figuring out how things work has been a not just a hobby for Patrick, but a passion. Starting at a very young age with simple wooden blocks, moving on to tinker toys, Legos and K’nex, all the way up to ham radio sets and personal computers, putting useful things together has been Patrick’s life. Among his many skills woodworking and carpentry have always been at the forefront. This was never more evident than during the 6 years spent working at the Bristol Renaissance Faire as a hand tooled woodworking demonstrator. Those 6 years Patrick would spend demonstrating period woodworking of the mid 1500′s to live audiences, primary to the demonstrations was tool safety. Now Patrick spends his time doing smaller projects when he is not at his job with the Chicago Childrens Museum building and maintaining the exhibits there.
spent most of her childhood outdoors. Whether biking back to the woods, creating a fairyland in the lilac tree, or hunting for new-born kittens in the barn, it was no easy task for her parents to corral her inside for mealtimes. When the midwestern winters brought her indoors, Ashley was constantly busy with a project – sewing doll clothes, coloring patterns on graph paper, fashioning ornaments, playing piano, or filling endless sketchbooks with drawings. Twenty-eight years later, not much has changed. Ashley has been an artist for as long as she can remember, and went on to earn a masters degree in Art Education from Miami University. After transplanting to Chicago five years ago, Ashley has been involved in after-school arts programs and worked at Chicago Children’s Museum as a play and learning facilitator. She has been the Visual Artist for Zephyr Dance Performing Arts Camp for the past three summers. Tinkering School promises to bring back memories of summers in the backyard with Dad, creating the all-important tree house, or lounging in an old parachute and dreaming up the next project. web.mac.com/giantwombat
Matt Nicholas Originally from Upstate New York, Matthew worked as a Weldor and Fabricator before relocating to Chicago to complete his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Since then Matthew has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and pursued an interdisciplinary art practice. For the past five years Matthew has worked in the Exhibits Department at Chicago Children’s Museum supporting access and inclusion initiatives as well as educational programming.
Hillary Burchall I try to spend most of my time exploring, collecting, tinkering, and observing. After a few years studying art education at university, I focused my studies on creating sculpture. I have been both camper and camp counselor, and have award-winning marshmallow-roasting skills. I think everyone should have the opportunity to become empowered by their own creativity and that is why I love tinkering school!
Ben Waite is currently a play and learning facilitator at Chicago Children’s Museum. While working in numerous capacities in the field of informal education,Ben has fed his passion for adventure. He will be attending graduate school in the fall, where he plans to apply his tinkering expertise to the field of social reform. Ben distinctly remembers building two giant snow forts connected by a tunnel a 1/2 block long as a child. Tinkering School gives him the chance to recreate that same sense of timelessness.
Dan Osediacz went from camper to counselor at a big rural camp. He is an artist, experimenter and adventurer extrodinaire. He enjoys building and getting his hands busy anytime he can. He is currently working on being one of goofiest and ultimately sincere people at the same time. Tinkering School is his perfect training ground.
Sam and Caitlin make-up Squawk Productions, a video production company out of Minneapolis, MN. Squawk makes videos that educate, entertain and enlighten. Whether it be a music video or animated promotional video they find any opportunity to take everyday materials and repurpose them. They are also collaborating on a DIY screen printing book they are pretty pumped about called Screen Printing: On the Cheap, expected to be released this summer. Squawk is so excited to be a part of Tinkering School Chicago, they are totally inspired by the adventurous spirit and can’t wait to get their hands dirty!
Posted: June 24th, 2012 | Author: dustin | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Matt, one of the founding adults collaborators of Tinkering School Chicago took 331 pictures this week. Here is most of them really fast.
Camp is over, we cleaned up, and have begun processing one of the most incredible weeks of our lives! Thank you to all who helped make this possible. There are lots of you, and you are all dream come true makers!
Posted: June 21st, 2012 | Author: dustin | Filed under: Camp | No Comments »
We woke up this morning and all walked down to the creek and got busy. We cleaned up our work space, thought about what needed done, and everyone broke out into groups and did good work. Our bridge stands proud as a testament to a great week of working together towards a common goal.
A couple of campers decided to walk to the creek blind-folded!
We took apart an old sewing machine (and other random appliances) this afternoon, in addition to some other power tooling.
It was another fantastic day! While we are sorry that tomorrow has to be the end, we are all extremely glad to have a bunch of new amazing friends and memories!
Posted: June 20th, 2012 | Author: dustin | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Yesterday was World Sauntering Day. We celebrated today!
After all the big, non-stop fun we had yesterday we all needed a reprieve. Walking slowly with a joyful disposition gave us the opportunity to re-energize, and also soak in the world around us. We looked at life on all levels. From the big night time sky millions of miles away to the tiniest little bugs creeping and crawling under our feet. We sat in the same spot by the lake for over 10 minutes before one of noticed a gorgeous water snake. When you slow down and take your time the world opens up.
We also did lots of cool stuff and kept at our projects (like making wooden wheels). Another fantastic day at Tinkering School Chicago’s 2012 Summer Camp.
Posted: June 19th, 2012 | Author: dustin | Filed under: Camp, Projects, Uncategorized | No Comments »
We had a brilliant day of picking black berries, tying sticks together, swimming, cutting down big trees, building kites and solar powered hot dog cookers, deconstructing 3 wheelers, and a making humongous bubbles! Wait. . . no, there was more, we just can’t think of it right now! Too tired from all the fun! Enjoy the pictures!
Posted: June 18th, 2012 | Author: dustin | Filed under: Camp, Projects, Uncategorized | No Comments »
The creek was beautiful this morning. We all did some exploring, building, enjoying!
We had been lashing logs straight across two trees that go over the creek, when Patrick built this astounding ladder. We have begun some diagonal design to leave a space to climb up on to the bridge.
We were taking a break before lunch, but then decided that we should put up a tire swing. Shenanigans ensued, and now we have a pit stop on our way to the creek!
Posted: June 17th, 2012 | Author: dustin | Filed under: Camp, Projects, Uncategorized | No Comments »
The first project of summer camp is on its way to glory!
We had an amazing time exploring the woods, and designing our bridge-treefort on the run.
We are all resting easy now, getting ready for a big day of building and hot summer fun!
We will share much more of the excitement at day’s end tomorrow!