Session D: Color Explosion

It's hard to believe it's already our last week at Black Pine Circle, but after a week off for the holiday, we arrived on Monday refreshed and energized to get back into the swing of things.  We've also got a few new collaborators to welcome to the PE family - Pete and his kids Anna and Teddy drove all the way out from Virginia to join the team and is our first ever family of collaborators.  And Luka joins us as our second Black Pine Circle graduate.  

We've got a big group this week, including a few familiar faces from past sessions.  After the kids discuss what our two main rules - Be Safe and Be Excellent to Each Other - mean to them, we break into three groups to dive right into tool training. 

Josh lays out an L joint to show the kids how to use quick release or bar clamps along with a square to make perfect corner.

So far this summer, we've focused on the miter saw, the drill, and the ever useful clamp during tool training.  All three are indispensable during camp, but this week we're piloting Building 101 in place of clamps to cover some basic principles to aid the kids in their first design session.  

In Building 101, Josh taught many important concepts through the simple challenge of building an L shaped joint with a diagonal gusset (otherwise known as a triangle).  The kids learned how to use a clamp and a jig to make a perfectly square corner while keeping both hands free to operate the drill. This exercise also demonstrates the incredible strength of the triangle (more on that soon) and exposes the kids to end grain, cross grain, and the relative strength of different joints.  

Over at miter saw training, Jenny led the group through each risk associated with this high speed spinning blade, and the ways we manage that risk.  We always start with an explanation of the ready call, something we do before ever use a dangerous tool or testing a new part of project.  It ensures everyone is paying attention, has their safety gear on, and doesn't see anything wrong with the way the operator is about to make the cut.  In this way, we ask the kids to be peer leaders and not just rely on the adults around to tell them things are safe.  

Katie brought the kids up to speed on drills (lots of kids in this camp have built projects before, and we've got a lot of expertise in the crowd.)  We covered everything from making sure our boards are secured, to the risk of burning yourself with a hot drill bit after making lots of holes.  At drill training, we also talk a lot about the importance of an orderly workspace, keeping all our hardware in cups and ensuring nothing ever hits the ground to await some poor unsuspecting toes in the future.  

The kids have been patient with us all day, learning the ins and out of the site before we even tell them what we're going to spend the week building.  In addition to being a fun surprise reveal after lunch, announcing the project after training ensures the kids come up with ideas that are possible with our set of tools and supplies. 

And the big reveal.... this week the theme is... COLOR EXPLOSION.

Ever since our first one day workshop building the Artering Ram, we've wanted to design more explosive art.  There will be three groups this week: launch, drop and squeeze. Our "paintbrushes" will be paint filled water balloons.  Using their guiding word, our campers will spend the rest of the day designing projects that will make the balloons pop in as fantastic, strange, and complex ways as they can imagine.  

Anna leads Amarachi, James, and Odin through the initial design of the forebodingly named "Barrel of Dome".

Alejandro, Amarachi, Arunima, Asa, James, Khara, Lucia and Odin are fired up about DROP and head into their design session with collaborators Josh and Anna.  By the end of the first day they've come up with a conveyor belt to lift, a terrifying face which will "cry" rainbow water balloon tears", travel through a funnel down to their demise at the ever intimidated "barrel of doom".   It feels like a fun-house of sorts and the group breaks into sub-groups to make as much progress as possible before the end of the day.

Alex, Danny, Hector, Jacob, Jose, and TJ get to work on SQUEEZE with collaborators Jenny, Pete and Luka.  Nayeli will join the group tomorrow, along with collaborator Christopher who is out for the day.  There are lots of big ideas in this group, and Jenny suggests we finish the day by making mini prototypes to best demonstrate ideas to the rest of the group.  

Over at the LAUNCH team, Angel, Gabe, Griffin, Rene, Ronan F and Ronan N start imagining all the possible ways they could launch balloons across the playground.  Collaborators Aakash and Teddy emphasize the importance of accuracy, predictability and control in any project involving projectiles.  There's talk of a catapult and a canon, but they end up uniting around one central project for the week.  They pick the canon.

Tomorrow we'll get right into building first thing, and we can feel how excited this group is to bring their ideas to life!