Thursday is always a big day at camp full of the "nearly there" challenges that are a part of any big project. We've accomplished a huge amount already, transforming our site from a stock pile of wood and screws to large contraptions that almost work. But the difference between almost working and working is often a tremendous amount of work - it's the heart of tinkering.
Pack your bags. We’re about to travel through time and space!
The past few days have been a whirlwind of enterprise, enthusiasm, exploration and experimentation. Our 'time machine' narrative has been continuously evolving, as have our campers confidence and skill-sets; learning and using new tools and equipment has allowed them to devise bold structures, mechanisms, characters and set designs that go beyond the technical, into the artistic terrain of world-building.
As our Friday deadline swiftly approached, teamwork was still top of the agenda; with campers stepping up to offer help and assistance on different parts of the project, ensuring everything was ready in time for the grand reveal.
And now for the moment you've all been waiting for!
Our intrepid travellers enter the time machine, all set to journey into the past...
Unbeknown to them, the time machine encounters a glitch (dum, dum, dum), and instead of returning to a previously lived scene from the past, they find themselves in an alternate reality in which the dinosaurs never became extinct!
It is here that our time travellers are met by the Mine-o-sauraus and Boss-o-sauras (Pan-o-sauraus was too tall to get in the shot. He was even too tall to fit under our 8ft high shade structure!), who are mining the rivers of Pompeii (pre-eruption onf Vesuvius of course) during the middle of the gold rush.
Our travellers return to their trusty time machine, intending to go back to the future...
But they unknowingly remain in this alternate reality, and when they arrive in the future they find themselves on Mars! The dinosaurs (who have since evolved into lizard overlords) mined the Earth into extinction and all remaining forms of life (including the human race) had to move to Mars.
Our time travellers arrive at a time when the lizard overlords are feuding with the native marsupial people about the 9-5 work day.
Whilst the native marsupial people believe in a free world for everyone, the lizard overlords are able to enforce the 9-5 work day, by blocking the portal back to Earth.
To see time travel in action, check out our short video clip...
And now for a little preview of what went on behind-the-scenes...
We think you'll agree it's been quite a week! We would like to thank our campers for their energy, enthusiasm, determination and perseverance (as well as their patience in waiting for this blog post – we’ve been experiencing a few technical difficulties here at Project Ember HQ, but we’re all sorted now).
Its only day two and already our teams are making spectacular progress. Yesterday we announced this weeks project using two simple words: time machine, and since then our campers have created an impressive narrative in which our time travellers will visit two alternate realities; a past in which dinosaurs were never extinct, where we find them during the middle of the gold rush, mining the rivers of Pompeii (pre-eruption of Vesuvius!) Going back to the future, the dinosaur race has evolved into lizard overlords, and the entire human race is now living on Mars. It’s going to be an exciting few days making this vision into a reality!
So, let’s introduce you to the teams…
The Past (Eugene, Robert, Rudy and Cam - with Jane and Josh)
There might only be four of them, but this group feels much bigger than they are. Enthusiastic and hard working, this group are simultaneously building the backdrop of Pompeii, as well as a number of dinosaur miners! Eugene has been working methodically and taking responsibility for the Pompeii props, including iterations of design and a variety of construction techniques. Rudy and Cam have been building the supporting structures for Mount Vesuvius and have been tirelessly chopsawing away, testing, stabilising and problem solving throughout the day. Dinosaur creation has largely been Robert’s domain (with a little help from some friends – thanks Josh) and we are all looking forward to meeting the Boss-o-saur, Miner-saur and Pan-o-saur as they mine for gold in the rivers on Friday.
The Future (Sophia, Archie, Daisy, Eva, Lucy, Tasso, Ry, Gabe and Jeffrey - with Chris, Aakash and Benjamin)
This group are the first to incorporate paint and surface design/texture into their project (although we’re confident that they won’t be the last!). Daisy, Eva, Lucy and Archie have been creating the landscape, giving us all a better sense of what futuristic ‘Life on Mars’ will look like. Sophia joined the futuristic team today, initially to lend an extra pair of helpful hands, but became so engrossed on the groups plan to create a space dome, that she has decided to remain with the Future team. She has been working with Gabe and Jeffrey to build a space dome. Ry and Tasso have collaborated to create a robot and are looking forward to problem solving a suitably sophisticated portal into the future.
The Time Machine (Ohad, Shohum, Aaron, Arson, Marly, Zara, Carter, Kaia, Katy, Makeda, Tavi and Anna – with Jenny and Roe)
The time machine, perhaps unsurprisingly, was a very popular part of this weeks project (who wouldn’t want to create a vehicle to travel through time?!) Twelve members strong, it seemed logical to divide and conquer, so the group split into three smaller teams; Shohum, Ohad, Marly, Zara, Makeda and Anna taking on the challenge of designing a vehicle for time travel; Kaia, Katy, Carter, Tavi designing and building the track on which it should travel; and Arson and Aaron designing a pulley system to add functionality and enable the time machine to move smoothly between the future and the past.
The entire team came back together at regular intervals to discuss the specifics of designs and dimensions, and to conduct tests and trials between the two components. This was not without its setbacks and the team encountered many frustrating moments, but remained supportive and determined throughout, using these challenges as an opportunity for growth. It gave the team a great insight into the purpose and function of prototyping and it was particularly special to share in the collective acknowledgement of small successes; the culmination of teamwork and great participation!
This week at Project Ember we welcome our biggest group yet, with 25 campers joining us for the creation of wild and wonderful new worlds. We are super stoked to have three alumni campers with us this week, sharing their skills and expertise with those who are new to Project Ember and the world of maker-focussed project-based learning. A big part of our program is to challenge our alumni campers, encouraging them to try harder than they have before, to work outside of their comfort zone and to be the best camper and teammate they can be - a Project Ember Ambassador if you will (and perhaps a Junior Collaborator in the making?!)
We are also very excited to welcome some new (and not so new) faces - Roe, Aakash and Benjamin - into the Project Ember family, as they join us as Collaborators this week, bringing with them a bucket load of experience and enthusiasm. All three have a wealth of educational, community and maker-focussed experience; Benjamin’s love of learning has steered him towards many interesting projects and ventures (we’re pleased to be able to add Project Ember to the list!) His background is in architecture, building off-grid sustainable homes - Earthships (you should check them out), and has worked with young people as an academic youth mentor. Aakash, a firm friend of Project Ember, returns this week, bringing his extensive experience of working with young people as a High School Physics teacher and an engineering prowess to watch out for! And last, but by no means least, we are excited to introduce you to Roe, whose passions lie in connection and community. Roe will be enriching our camp experience with her infectious enthusiasm, intuitive sense and instinctive understanding of the needs of young people.
We began the week in the time honoured tradition of getting-to-know you games, group agreements, expectations and goals. The campers highlighted the importance of ‘learning new things’ and ‘thinking outside the box’ as their key goals for the week, which we couldn’t be happier about! Cultivating curiosity is one of our guiding principles and we are passionate about creating an authentic environment for young people to explore, experiment, challenge the status quo and stretch their imagination to its limits. This week’s project provides the perfect opportunity to do just that, but before we tell you what it is, here are a few snaps of our campers during tool training…
PROJECT ANNOUNCEMENT TIME: this week we are building a time machine! We are leaving the finer details up to the imaginations of our campers, but for now we can confirm that we will be travelling both to the past and the future, so hold on to your hats!
* Huge apologies to Session B campers and their families for the delay in this blog post. We’ve been experiencing a few technical difficulties here at Project Ember HQ (but we’re all sorted now). Thank you for your patience!
Wow…what a week to kick off summer! Since we announced the challenge of building the World's longest marble run, our campers have been on a mission to incorporate fun, interactive elements into the mix and have come up with some incredibly creative solutions; spirals, ramps, jumps, cascades, plinko and pinball-style challenges.
Thursday was our last full day of building, with many challenges and changes, as collaborations between teams took place to ensure the success of a fully functioning marble run, extending not only the length of the blacktop, but an entire storey! The campers demonstrated excellent team work, cooperation, determination and grit to achieve this.
We think you'll agree that all their hard work was well worth it...
* Huge apologies to Session A campers and their families for the delay in this blog post. We've been experiencing a few technical difficulties here at Project Ember HQ (but we're all sorted now). Thank you for your patience!
All our teams' projects have really come to life quickly with all sorts of imaginative designs. With everything from standard shoots, to zig-zag ramps, to full on pinball machines, this week's kids had no shortage of creativity on call. Here's a short photo summary of our progress.
Welcome to the first week of summer camp! The Directors and Collaborators here at Project Ember HQ have been eagerly awaiting today and were pumped and primed for the first full week of art and engineering challenges with some rad young people.
The first morning at camp can be a daunting one; the combination of new people, new places, new projects. Luckily this is one of our specialities and we pride ourselves in a safe and welcoming space for kids to be seen, heard and valued. As you can see from our group agreements, this week's campers have some thoughtful and savvy suggestions on how to be excellent to one another and stay safe.
Throughout the week, kids at Project Ember will have access to an array of tools and equipment and it is incredibly important to us that they are shown how to use them safely, responsibly and confidently. Tool training focused on the chop saw, clamps and drills - all essential for this week’s (still secret) design challenge.
We decided to keep this week’s project under our belts for a little while longer, with suspense growing throughout park and lunch time. But we can’t keep it secret any longer…this week we are creating THE WORLD’S LARGEST MARBLE RUN!
Dividing ourselves into smaller teams, each group has the responsibility for a different section of the marble run. Christina, Davi, Arson and Leo are working alongside Christopher to create the start of the marble run from the height of the mezzanine level (incorporating the staircase). Elliott B, Dante, Vaughn, Tasso and Josh will take over the run from the bottom of the staircase and continue its course across the blacktop in a suitably challenging and creative fashion. Then it is down to our third and final group; Ysabel, Elliot P, Griffin, Ben and Kyle to conclude our marble run course in style, with collaborative assistance from Jenny and our fab Junior Collaborator Jane. Katie will be spreading her enthusiasm, creativity and technical know-how amongst all three groups and helping campers to figure out the transition points between each part of the run.
Designing, building and iteration has already begun, even in these initial stages of the project, so expect many more design challenges and problem solving as the week unfolds! As day one came to a close, an encouraging and purposeful start has been made and the staff and campers are excitedly anticipating tomorrow’s first full build day.
Presented with a small stack of lumber, a few hours to build, and the idea of playing pool with bowling balls, today's kids’ creativity and ingenuity took us from a pile of 18 sticks of 2x4 to a fully functioning (and delightfully fun!) game of billiards that featured a pool cue, a bridge, four "pockets" and bumpers.