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Art of Tinkering Workshop – Day 1

Art of Tinkering Workshop – Day 1


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.

20140729-aot_workshop_167“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

20140729-aot_workshop_279“I forgot all the frustration during building when we got to look at each other’s boards. There is a sense of joy about that.” – Jean

20140729-aot_workshop_159“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

20140729-aot_workshop_066“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

20140729-aot_workshop_104“This workshop is for us to feel what the kids are feeling when they are tinkering, and our job is to pick up on that and make sure we don’t forget when it’s our turn to facilitate.” – Veronica

20140729-aot_workshop_353“I want to be mindful about my own sentimental view, but perhaps there is something fundamentally true about these drawings, that they might reveal something fundamental about our world.” – Phillip

20140729-aot_workshop_360“My ideas were always guided by ‘what if?’ What supported my process was my ability to take apart my contraption and be okay with that.” – Bonnie

20140729-aot_workshop_386“The biggest thing I am going to get out of this is the importance of having a glue gun in your classroom.” – Kayla

20140729-aot_workshop_363“I am happy but frustrated. This feels like a scratching of the surface, it could definitely use a second or third iteration; it felt like a little sip.” – Phillip

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.