A couple of weeks ago we hosted an Art of Tinkering workshop at the Exploratorium, as we do about three times a year. These are opportunities for us to reflect on our practice while engaging a group of professional educators in the practice of tinkering, and the art of facilitating. We are constantly tweaking and rethinking our approach to our Professional Development workshops, and thus the exact mix and order of the activities we present varies. This time around, we started with Marble Machines, and followed it with Scribbling Machines. Rather than give a blow-by-blow account of the day, I thought it would be nice to let the participants’ words tell the story. Here are some quotes from the conversations we’ve had after each activity.
“As a facilitator you know that it is not important whether they get it done or not, that your job is to assist. But as a participant you really want to finish it! When a parent comes in an forces a kid to leave, it’s really important to understand that perspective as a kid: even though they might have made an hour of fantastic work, if for the last five minutes it didn’t work, it might feel like a failure.” – Angelica
“It’s a finely tuned collection of things that seems to have been created, the materials are pre-digested and lend themselves to collaging and assembling together. But there’s a tension in being slightly awkward and needing us to push them, subvert them, or turning them around in some way.” – Phillip
“Having a time constraint made me go straight for the logical, relying on what I already know, and it makes me think of my students and what would make them really break out of the box and use their imagination.” – Mia
What have your experiences been like with Marble Machines or Scribbling Machines? Do any of these statements resonate with you? Let us know in the comments! And if you want to see more photos from the workshop, check them out here.