The benefits of tinkering school for a childs development

Print Oct 06, When 6-year-old Soren Walck of Kutztown, PA, wants to see what makes an old phone work, he runs for the tinkering kit he got for his birthday from his mom, Kathleen, a former art teacher.

The benefits of tinkering school for a childs development

Gas-powered Roman chariots, singing greeting cards, play dough circuit boards, and homemade voltage detectors are just a few of the science projects you might see when you apply a maker approach to STEM education.

The maker movement celebrates creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship through the design and construction of physical objects. Maker activities may come across as playful, even slightly wacky, explosions of inventiveness. At the Tinkering Studio in the Exploratorium, a museum of science, art, and human perception in San Francisco, we've been developing maker activities for almost two decades.

During this time, we've observed how tinkering can support children's development of productive science learning identities. Productive science learning identities are crucial for students choosing to pursue science academically, professionally, and through lifelong engagement.

STEM-rich maker activities are powerful places for this identity work because they can accommodate a wide variety of interests and experiences, they blend intellectual and socioemotional engagement, and they provide opportunities for young people to develop, pursue, persist with, and accomplish original ideas and solutions in which they can take pride and ownership.

From Wind Tubes to Circuits Wind tubes are an example of a maker activity that can serve as a motivating, engrossing introduction to scientific understandings. A clear acrylic tube is placed over each fan, with an 8-inch gap at the bottom so that objects can be inserted into the tube and lifted up by the breeze.

Children work with an array of low-cost materials—berry baskets, cardboard toilet paper rolls, pipe cleaners, straws, masking tape, pieces of cardboard, feathers, tissue paper, string, Wiffle balls, and so on—to construct objects that will float or fly.

The benefits of tinkering school for a childs development

The first object children make typically shoots up and out of the wind tube too quickly, or perhaps sinks down and doesn't fly, or bobbles erratically in the tube. They return to the worktable to refine the design, perhaps to add more stability, to streamline, to add weight or remove weight.

They test and retest their designs. Through this process, learners engage in making predictions, designing, testing, revising, and retesting. They grapple with the scientific phenomena of symmetry, balance, weight, and turbulence.

When teachers use wind tubes in the classroom, they might provide a period of initial experimentation and then ask students to record their predictions, data, and evidence-based assessments of the relationship of design to flight.

The Art of Tinkering | Scholastic | Parents

As students share their data, they are likely to observe that more than one design element produces similar results. Can they further explore these similarities to elucidate key scientific principles from their firsthand experiences?

With students now personally invested in the phenomena, the activity opens the door for further studies of motion and stability, forces and interactions. Making might look like fun and play, but as Edith Ackermann from MIT says, play is a child's most serious work Duffalo, Indeed, both Lev Vygotsky and Jean Piaget have argued that play is a central developmental process for learning.

An example of channeling playfulness into curricular learning comes from the Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland, California, where high school students have access to a making space, located inside their science classroom, to build and test their developing scientific ideas and understandings.

As a part of the 9th grade physics class, led by Ed Crandall, students are asked to develop investigations that may often require designing and engineering various apparatus that they can use to test their hypotheses or assumptions. One student, a swimmer, explored whether it was possible to build a gill that swimmers could use to extract oxygen from water.

Another student, a passionate graffiti artist, designed and experimented with different spray paint can nozzles. A third group of students wondered why raindrops, falling from such dizzying heights, don't kill people when they fall on their heads. They decided to build an apparatus that would enable them to simulate and measure rainfall.

Their goal was to use a counteracting flow of air to suspend a drop of water; when the water drop stopped falling, they could measure the air velocity to determine the rate at which the "rain" was falling.


The process of developing the questions; identifying the parameters and variables; and designing, constructing, and fine-tuning a wind tunnel to accomplish their goal ultimately deepened the students' commitment to the process of understanding how friction, gravity, and velocity interact to save us from the force of falling raindrops.

As these examples show, maker activities not only help students develop deep, firsthand learning about scientific concepts, but also engage them in the practices of science and engineering National Research Council, —developing questions, defining problems, testing solutions, responding to feedback, and generating explanations or solutions.

A Growing Movement Making as an instructional practice has deep roots. Seymour Papert argued that the process of physically constructing an object is an effective way for students to both develop and demonstrate understanding.

The benefits of tinkering school for a childs development

The current maker movement extends and updates this history by integrating digital tools and technologies such as small, low-cost microprocessors or 3-D design software into activities that support young people's design and construction goals.

Across the United States, schools, science museums, children's museums, and libraries are designing and building maker programs. Brightworks, a school in San Francisco, has organized its entire curriculum around making and invention.I am willing to bet that books about tinkering with kids didn't exist for my mother.

I grew up in a single parent home. My sister, brother, and I had a wonderful model in our mother. Although many, many days must have been difficult, to say the least, she never made it . The longest study of its kind shows that an early education program for children from low-income families provides benefits that last well into adulthood.

A Growing Movement

The Child-Parent Centers (CPC) program in the Chicago Public School System was established in Tinkering is important because it can help children understand how things are made, enables children to have focussed and unstructured time to explore and test ideas, and it’s at the heart of invention.

Still, no reform is challenge-free, and the potential benefits from tinkering with the U.S. school day are considerable. In a moment when so many U.S. families are struggling to piece together a sane work-life balance (to say nothing of long-term savings), the basics of having and raising kids . | #1 Educational Site for Pre-K through 5

There are cognitive benefits of doing things the way we did as children — building something, tearing it down, then building it up again. According to research, nothing activates a child's brain like play. has multiple resources organized for any learning tool you might need as a teacher Adding your school can help us give you better content recommendations based on what teachers in your school or district are using in the classroom.

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Building the Future: Tinkering and Playful Learning -- THE Journal