Ideation and Sketching: The first meeting at The Bay School

Sketching workshop

The first meeting of the San Francisco and North Bay region occurred Saturday, January 26 at The Bay School of San Francisco. Lots of great pictures by Karen Wilkinson are available on the Tinkering Studio’s Flickr page.

Approximately 75 kids and adults turned out for a variety of fantastic activities all themed around ideation (the process of coming up with new ideas) and sketching. Themes for this and future meetings are inspired by the phases of a typical project. Next month will focus on prototyping and documentation, then fabrication in March, and exhibition in April.

The day started with a program orientation led by North Bay regional coordinators Sara Bolduc and Kevin Rumon. That led into an abbreviated plussing session where several program veterans shared past and current projects.

Silvia's fairy wall house
Silvia talks about her Maker Faire 2012 project, a Fairy Wall House, with new participants

John talks about his octocopter
John Boyer discusses his senior project, an Octocopter, during the plussing session

Miranda Morgan then led a wonderful workshop on sketching as a means to quickly explore ideas. The first exercise was to sketch an abstract paper sculpture that was placed on the tables.

Abstract sculpture sketch

In the second exercise, Miranda had attendees drawing three words randomly from paper bags. The goal was then to sketch something inspired by those words. For instance, the words “sticky”, “spoon”, and “tiger” led to the sketch shown here (detailed workshop description):

Sticky tiger spoon

Next, Molly Reisman led The Great Egg Drop Challenge. The challenge started by unveiling the materials that were to be used to create a protective “vehicle” that would keep a raw egg safe when dropped from the second floor stair well of the school (a distance of 17 feet). Materials included every day items such as paper cups, sandwich bags, straws, etc. Project teams were formed, but they weren’t allowed to start building until they had practiced their new-found sketching skills to explore a variety of designs.

A team works on their egg drop vehicle
One of the teams working on their egg drop vehicle.

Contestants were scored based on how much damage was done to their egg, how light their vehicle was, and how accurately it hit a target marked on a tarp at the bottom of the drop zone.

Bombs away!
Bombs away!

The final event of the day was a series of talks by Featured Makers, accomplished makers working in a variety of media. The first speaker was Tricia Wright, an industrial designer and former toy creator, who talked about the importance of exploring lots of ideas early, and not getting trapped into following the first idea that seems promising. She also gave the audience a sense of what’s it’s like to take an idea for a new toy from initial conception through to a final product. The second speaker was Tony DeRose, one of the Young Makers program co-founders. He gave a quick overview of the development of he and his family as makers. Starting 10 years ago with simple projects that could be completed in a weekend, he showed the evolution through progressively more complicated projects. He urged those feeling intimidated by the prospect of becoming a maker to start small and build on whatever skills you already have. The final speakers were Alex Jacobson and Sam Frank, both seniors at the Bay School and Young Maker program veterans. They talked briefly about a few of their past projects, Saphira and Fire Jam, emphasizing the importance of expecting failure, and the importance of building in safety procedures throughout the lifetime of a project.

Tricia Wright talking about carrying a project from initial conception through to final product.

All in all it was an exceptional start to what promises to be a terrific season at The Bay School!



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