Tinkering at Museum of Discovery


Last week I led a day long tinkering workshop with the team at the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock. We had a great crew of museum educators from around the state as well as teachers, librarians and informal education program leaders.


The theme for the workshop was taking existing tinkering activities and adding new elements (many of the museums in the Discovery Network were some of the first to implement tinkering studios in their spaces).  For scribbling machines that meant using DAGU motors, colorful ink and a wide variety of examples. And we tried paper circuits with the addition of chibitronics chibichips to get us started thinking about computational tinkering.


Both of these activities and extensions gave the group the chance to identify the core values of tinkering activities (playful, learner-centric, collaborative, iterative, etc...) but also reflect on the things that they could change and adjust for different settings, time scales, materials budgets, facilitation needs and thematic focuses.

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Over the course of the day participants made some really cool creations that gave them the chance to experience the joys and frustrations of tinkering. Especially with programming and paper circuits, it was the first time for many to have a experience as a learner and feel more confident about their own abilities.

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During the workshop Brittney took lots of (especially beautiful) notes of the conversations that we can refer back to as we continue to develop these experiences.

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After the session, I got the chance to connect with Joel Gordon and visit the Innovation Hub, a makerspace that he helped found in Little Rock. It was really inspiring to see the mix of co-working space, artist studios, micro-manufacturing, digital tools and more traditional environments for woodworking or screen printing sharing the same building.


There’s been lots of great work around tinkering in Little Rock and the surrounding areas over the past few years and I’m excited to see how these ideas continue to develop.