Summer has been flying by in the Tinkering Studio, but we wanted to take a moment to look back to June and do a post on the last Bay Area Maker Educator (BAME) meet up of the season all about inflatables. Inspired by our summer show, we held a prototyping session that broadly explored several ideas related to wind, balloons, and pneumatics. One of my favorite things about BAME events is that they allow us to revisit old activities as well as play around with new ideas.
One of the classic tinkering activities we revisited was Wind Table. Usually we use materials like cone cups and paper strips as fliers, but for BAME we added balloons as an additional component to explore. One person focused on trying to make an object that would fly across from the low wind table to the taller one. With just our traditional materials that wouldn't be possible, but with the addition of balloons it made for a rich area to investigate.
Another activity we revisited is Chain Reaction. Ryoko had the idea of using a pneumatic syringe to make a tongue depressor scissor lift. Over the course of the night, the machine grew to include a bicycle pump start and a finale that bounced a tennis ball off a balloon trampoline (unfortunately that component didn't make it into the video below).
A new avenue of exploration for us involved using balloons and pneumatics to make animated animals and sculptures, some of which included linkages. There's definite potential to keep exploring here. One of the things we like about air-powered creations is that they don't require electricity, they can move quickly or slowly, they can move things that are far away, and that they can lift things that are relatively heavy. The BAME prototyping session gave us a window into some of the possibilities of using air as a tool, and there's a lot more to learn!
Dog jumping for a treat: