TINKERING

WHO INVENTING TINKERING? 

Physicist Frank Oppenheimer founded the San Francisco’s Exploratorium in 1969 based on his idea that science, art and technology should be made accessible to people of all ages through a hands-on approach. The Tinkering Studio opened its doors in 2009; the space is dedicated to discovery through tinkering and occupies an entire storey of the Museum.

THE METHOD

Tinkering is an approach to learning by exploring natural phenomena through tools, materials as well as individual abilities.

LEARNING

There are two methods for learning: 

  • through experience;
  • through study.
 

Through experience, knowledge is achieved by experimentation, simulation, attempts and play. Through study, knowledge is achieved by assimilating notions being processed by others, a process that requires attention, abstraction and fact reconstruction skills.

TINKERING AS AN EDUCATIONAL TOOL

Tinkering is an approach to education based on the constructivist theory for which knowledge is not simply “transferred” from the teacher to the pupil, but it’s actively constructed into the student’s mind. 

“Creative activity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual” Arthur Koestler

 

LEARNING DIMENSIONS OF TINKERING

  • ENGAGEMENT

 Spending time in Tinkering activities means to play, envision, make, explore materials, try something over and over. Tinkering promotes the cognitive process through the construction of personally meaningful products. Displaying motivation or investment through affect or behaviour means to show emotions (such as joy, pride, disappointment, frustration) and remain after the work appears to be finished, and start something new.

  • INITIATIVE AND INTENTIONALITY

Tinkering allows you to set your own goals and plan steps for future actions. Moreover, it allows to detect any problems to which answers and solutions can be developed, developing unique strategies. 
The tinkering activity allows you to respond to feedback derived from a given path by finding, in the environment and in the material available, a source of inspiration. The tinkering approach is always innovative and allows us to persist towards our goal despite problems or doubts. Tinkering also implies an effort of understanding: it admits not knowing, expressed through loss, surprise, confusion, but it develops intentionality to insist on exploring confusion and building understanding.

  • SOCIAL SCAFFOLDING

The tinkering activity allows the student to request or offer help in solving problems and to propose tools or materials to serve an idea, letting oneself be inspired by the work of other individuals.  Tinkering is sharing and connecting with others works, it’s an interaction.

  • DEVELOPMENT OF UNDERSTANDING

Tinkering stimulates expression through emotions and phrases.  Understanding a phenomenon involves a positive feeling; at the same time, the lack of understanding involves a request for clarification from the rest of the group. 
The tinkering activity allows to offer or refine explanations.

  • CONNECT WITH THE STEM

Tinkering connects work with previous knowledge with new concepts related to STEM, allows you to use what you learn during the explorations and makes the work more and more articulate and complex, thus providing an improvement.