We get asked questions about tinkering and making all the time. As I was responding to an email message from a workshop participant in Singapore, I thought it might be worth sharing my reply more widely here on our blog. More importantly, I wondered how others might respond to the same question.
Hello Karen, Hello Mike,
I hope you are both well. We met at the Singapore Science Center. Recently we discussed Tinkering and Making, Tinker Studio vs Maker Space, the difference and/or relations.
What is the difference between tinkering and making- is a tinkerer a maker? Is a Tinkering Studio part of a Maker Space? Would love to hear your feedback and/or research.
Nice to hear from you Barbara,
This could be a much longer conversation, but I'll try to cut to the chase.
While we're fans of making, I think you can make things without tinkering. It's the ability to tinker, or more precisely the development of a tinkerer's disposition over time, that we care most about.
To us, tinkering is a marriage of play and inquiry; a way of becoming more fluent and well-versed in working with materials, building new skills, developing ideas, learning new tools, etc…
Tinkering supports learning that typically isn't linear and where outcomes are varied.
Not all making projects are approached in this manner.
Your question - Is a Tinkerer a Maker?
I'd ask the reverse as well - is a Maker a Tinkerer? And I think the answer in that case is sometimes yes, other times no.
Following instructions on a worksheet to complete a project is less about tinkering to me. However, if you use that experience as a starting point to launch into future projects that rely more on experimentation with less step-by-step directions towards designed outcomes, then you probably are tinkering.
Is the Tinkering Studio part of a Maker Space?
We think of the Tinkering Studio as a type of Maker Space within a museum - a space for learning through making, designed to offer a variety of opportunities for children and adults to think with their hands by constructing and creating projects based on their ideas.
Hope this helps…
How would respond to Barbara's question:
“What's the difference between tinkering and making - is a tinkerer a maker?”