Tinkering School

come make amazing things with us

Meet Our Staff

The Tinkering School Collaborators each bring their own unique and exciting perspective to each workshop. We are artists, parents, educators, child specialists, scientists, makers, and thinkers who are silly and also very serious about building community and building cool things with kids!


Gever Tulley

Gever founded Tinkering School in 2005 in order to learn how children become competent and to explore the notion that kids can build anything, and through building, learn anything. A self-taught computer scientist with no formal education, Gever’s expertise is really in… thinking. Gever has taught workshops and made presentations to both kids and adults around the world. He has spoken at TED twice, written articles for MAKE:, and authored the book Fifty Dangerous Things (you should let your children do).

Loren Swanson
Tinkering School Director

Loren is a tinkerer of all sorts with a background in architecture, startups, technology, and woodworking to name a few. Loren courageously takes on unfamiliar tasks and embraces new challenges, some of which include helping design earth ships, livable tree houses, water slides, kids castles, and parks. Loren can tinker his way out of any situation. Loren is a loving dad of two kids,  both who attend Brightworks, and tinkers with them with LEGOs and in their small, but efficient workshop at home.



Molly Mansfield
Tinkering School Site Manager

Molly joined the Institute for Applied Tinkering in 2016 as part of the Tinkering School Summer Program and was a Brightworks Magenta Collaborator and Tinkering School Site Manager in 2016-2017. Molly comes from New Hampshire and loves maple syrup but doesn’t miss shoveling snow. She attended the University of New Hampshire where she completed an M.Ed. with a focus in secondary science education, a B.S. in Microbiology, and a minor in French Language.

She also did plant genetics research, ballroom dancing, and art classes for fun. She holds three teaching credentials in secondary level science in both New Hampshire and California, and taught math and science at two public schools in New Hampshire before moving to Sonoma County to work as a wine scientist and a gymnastics coach for two self-designed sabbatical years. She is excited to lead the Magenta band and continue to help create the most amazing, Brightworks-y high school possible! She loves ice cream, enjoys drawing, sings when she drives, washes her feet when she showers, and sorts M&Ms by color.

Brendon Bell
Tinkering School Site Manager and
Boys & Girls Club Tinkering Program Manager

Since his days as a young lego maestro, Brendon has enjoyed tinkering and creating with a wide variety of mediums: everything from building film sets, converting a camper van, filming a documentary of a bike tour in Zambia, and exploding a cardboard dam! (Ask him about it if you see him).

As a Tinkering School Site Manager, and the Boys & Girls Club Tinkering Program Manager,  Brendon enjoys supporting young tinkerers to dream big, build fearlessly, and through the process discover just how capable they really are of bringing their imaginations to life.  

Brendon joined Tinkering school with a BA in Film and Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz (Go Banana Slugs!) and a professional background in video production. Most recently, he worked for Free Range Studios coordinating / producing non-profit campaign and informational videos for clients like The Alliance for Climate Education, More than Scientists, NASA, The Humane Society, and The Story of Stuff.

Outside of tinkering and filmmaking, Brendon loves to travel, play music, study permaculture, and practice / assistant teach NVC (Nonviolent Communication).


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Julie Peri
Tinkering School Site Manager

Julie is a lifelong tinkerer spent her childhood playing with LEGOs, K’Nex and Capsela kits. Julie followed her passion for tinkering and graduated from UC Davis with a degree in civil engineering.

After graduating Julie worked as a construction supervisor with Habitat for Humanity in the East Bay, and taught tinkering to preschoolers in Davis and San Francisco.

Julie believes that there is no such thing as failure, only an opportunity to grow, and believes we can create magical outcomes with teams and teamwork. Julie is passionate about sharing her love of growth with others, and is an unstoppable force for fun and courage. Julie’s favorite phrase is “anything is possible.”

When not in the Tinkering lab you can find Julie in the waves of ocean beach, hanging out at Playland skate park, or visiting her loved ones in and around the Bay Area.

Sam Phillips
Tinkering School Site Manager

At various points throughout his childhood, Sam envisioned growing up to become a magician, animator, playwright, film critic, video-maker, and molecular gastronomist. As Lead After Care Collaborator, Sam can pursue all of those interests and more as he builds, plays, learns, and wonders alongside the rest of the Brightworks community.

Prior to joining the team, Sam taught 6th grade English Language Arts at Nashville Prep Charter School, where he integrated technology into his instruction and led an after-school digital media club. Most recently, he has worked in Chicago as a video and animation teaching-artist at Marwen and Street-Level Youth Media, and was the founding manager at MetaMedia, a free youth makerspace which he helped launch.

Sam has given presentations at the National Art Educators Association Conference, Illinois Computing Educators Conference, and at Argonne National Laboratory. He was named a 2016 FabLearn Fellow though Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, and holds a bachelor’s degree in cinema studies from Oberlin College. When he’s not working, he loves obsessing over pop-culture ephemera, visiting microcinemas and ice cream parlors, making collages, and learning new games that he can play with friends.


Tinkering School is a trademark registered in the US Patent and Trademark Office.