Dharohar Tinkering PD workshop Day 2

After a inspiring first day of tinkering with the Dharohar staff and volunteers, we moved to a second full day of exploration of motions and mechanisms and discussions about learning through tinkering.


Cranky contraptions, an automata activity developed by the Tinkering Studio group, changed the scale a bit from some of our previous projects. This activity felt more personal, is more about using common materials for a new purpose and gave each participant the chance to make their own creation.


The whole room was engaged in the process of seeing how some simple materials can be taken in new directions. As usual, some started with an artistic idea and tried to make it happen and others moved from messing around with a mechanism before settling on a design.


Both Shivani and I, as facilitators, had to think creatively and practice supporting learners trying to make things where we didn’t know how they would turn out.


And even though it was an individual project, we saw a lot of social scaffolding as participants helped each other with the designs, offered tips and tricks for tool use and even combined projects. It was cool to see two participants working on circus themed automata physically connect their machines on a shared cardboard sheet!


After lunch we moved to building a chain reaction machine! It was awesome to see everyone dive right in and get started. They responded quickly to the expanded set of materials and came up with interesting ideas.


One group at the front of the room initially had the idea of a water based switch! They tried connecting a switch with normal water, but added salt to increase the conductivity. Their next step was to figure out how to carefully pour the bottle into the cup with alligator clip leads.


Other groups had a challenge of an smaller irregularly shaped table (because those were the only ones available). These participants worked on a multi level ball run to create a longer and more complex pathway.


Another team focused on releasing a metal tube and golf ball to both trigger the next element and play a little melody. There were so many minute adjustments needed for them to construct a smoothly operating element.


The materials we had lent consistent aesthetic with the blocks, stands, motors, and tracks across each table. Each group also used at least one electrical switch to move the reaction along.


After about two hours of working, we went around the room and shared what we expected to happen on each of the tables. I loved seeing the questions that each of the participants asked including “how can you be sure it will work?”

The group with the water circuit added a exacto blade spinning on a motor to pop a balloon and an ingenious winch and hinge mechanism to release the water bottle.

Untitled from WICO on Vimeo.

We set off the machine and there were cheers, shouts of joy, laughter and shock from the group as we quickly moved around the tables. Each team had their ‘magic finger’ ready to move the reactions along in case something didn’t work according to plans.


For the final discussion we went around the room and shared our goals for “someday” and the concrete steps we can take on “monday” to move toward that goal! I was really impressed by their ideas and dreams that ranged from designing activities for the pop-up space, thinking differently about parenting styles and taking tinkering activities to home villages.

After the workshop with staff and volunteers, we moved to co-facilitating workshops for kids in their pop-up space in a local mall. But that’s a story for the next blog post…