Tinkering 101, day 1: marble machines


20110920-texas_tinkering_040.jpgWe started our Tinkering 101 workshop by launching straight into one of our favorite and most time-tested activities, and one that has a very high concentration of the characteristics that we consider fundamental to tinkering.

As we often do, we gave participants a simple prompt: build a marble run that will take a ball from the top to the bottom of the board as slowly as possible. Whether or not that prompt ends up being taken literally is always an interesting consideration, but it never fails to spark ideas and interesting directions of work.

Kay tries to figure out how to add elevation to her piece, to gain height.

I love it when people develop a personal connection with a tool. In this case, tape has become so indispensable that is worn on the wrist.

Some materials trigger unusual and brilliant ideas; we can't predict what those will be or how to facilitate making them happen, but we have developed a palette that tends to be evocative for most people.

How do you join elbow joints together? Randa opted for tape.

Waiting for the marble to drop.

Kay is very excited about the sound-making potential...

Frustration, anticipation, success, elation... they're all there!

Kristian uses a cut-off balloon and a funnel to make a trampoline, then discovers that it also functions as a drum!

A nice example of cross-pollination of ideas: the next-board neighbors come up with their own way to make a marble bounce.

Aiona and Julie succeeded in one of the holy grails of marble machines: a functioning marble elevator.

And finally, this to me is one of the ultimate signs of personal investment and ownership of the experience: the cell-phone picture.

Stay tuned for more photos and description of what we did on the next day.

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