On the last day of camp this summer, I found myself frantically threading rope and tying knots to finish the project (part of an obstacle course), while the tinkerers played in the park. At that moment, I had to wonder: Is it OK that I’m helping this much?
Picture this: it's Monday morning at Tinkering School. Seven-year-old Niko is about to practice using the power drill. He has his hands full with a drill, a battery and a bucket of screws.
Niko asks a collaborator, "Where are the drill bits?"
At this moment, the collaborator has two options:
When kids walk in to Tinkering School, they know that they are going to build. They don't know what they're going to build. Unlike lots of workshops, we do not reveal the project to kids or parents ahead of time. Until the day of a workshop, after Safety Training, the project remains a surprise. We've found that this has a few advantages..
Tinkering School is not about tools. It's about helping kids increase their confidence and abilities as problem-solvers. It's about tackling tough problems and making new friends. It's about experiences--not objects.
That said, tools are an essential part of those experiences. Kids experiences of using the tools should be as fluid and frictionless as possible. (A plugged-in chop saw with a sharp blade on a clean, clear cutting table is a tool. An unplugged chopsaw with a dull-blade stashed under a messy table is a series of Very Tedious Problems).