[Week 5 Activity] Time for Tinkering


I went kind of literal and tinkered with Tynker…
I was introduced to it recently and wanted to see how it worked, what could I use from Scratch coding etc. I loved it, simple and easy to access for even v young children. Lots of experimenting within the program supported by the built in help.


I definitely believe that everyone, kids or adults, need information on the tool that they are using before starting to use it for a defined purpose.

That could mean reading, tutorials, videos, asking an expert or a variety of other means. There is a time and a place for open exploration, depending on the tool, but that can often lead to so much frustration that the person shuts down to the tool as you did with Logo.

Thanks for the reply, it helped with my thinking.


This is amazing! I really like the pop-up book idea, and the possibility of leaving them in public spaces.


I have been tinkering with a cnc machine, trying to teach it to draw. I started out making it follow the lines from a hand drawing, milling it in a board. Then I discovered that the path the program made the spindle follow when it was supposed to clear away material, were kind of nice. A machine is like your stupid friend, it just does things perfectly. But you can fool it into some kind of human/machine creative collaboration.


Thats a great point you are making. It really feels good, doesnt it? And thats the feeling you want the students to experience too!


I was tinkering with squishy circuits. I felt free to try things and figure out new ways of creating “art” with squishy circuits. I didn’t have the insulating play doh so I use pieces of cardboard between the pieces of dough. I was able to create a face that has 2 green led lights for eyes and a red LED light for its nose. I m look forward to trying more ideas after making some insulating dough.


I must tell, i love children when they laugh and discover something new, because they keep asking, how did you did it?. Show please.
This project was about playing a guitar. We used a BBC MicroBit and a GuitarHero guitar.
Bouncing the guitar was fun as sound changed. So lots of fun.
Happy coding, yes, Microbit had a little code so far…


Fiquei muito feliz em encontrar um dos materiais que trabalhamos este ano aqui no curso.
Usamos os circuitos de papel e fizemos cartões diferentes.
Agora, no Natal, nossa turma de 4o ano criará cartões de Natal com circuitos.
Os alunos ficam muito entusiasmados e várias tentativas são feitas. Também usamos as massinhas condutivas e não condutivas. Foi uma farra!

Também criamos jogos interativos


I decided to try cross-stitch for the first time. I’m working on a cat yin & yang for my sister for Christmas.
I’ve really enjoyed tinkering with this; finding a pattern I liked, free-handing it on the fabric, and just getting started. I’ve made some mistakes and learned how to fix them. I’ve gotten bored with cross-stitching in straight rows, so I’ve tried cross-stitching blocks at a time.
Overall, I’ve realized that while this is tedious work and is going to take much more time to complete than I expected, I am enjoying having something to pick up and work on in my free time. It’s really satisfying to look at what I’ve completed so far and to watch the piece come together. It’s also easy to put in my bag and carry with me wherever I go!
I think this is a hobby I want to continue pursuing; for my next design, I’m going to use more colors and try some words!


My RoboFish Project
I developed this during a summer class that introduced me to all kinds of cool techie things. It’s an anglerfish model, and if you wave your hand under the sensor in his antenna (?), he will jump forward and open his mouth like he’s trying to bite you. I’ve been playing with it off and on since then, changing the chassis and so on, to make it work more smoothly. It’s a fun project I can keep amusing myself with for quite a while. I plan to take it to class to surprise and inspire my students.


In addition to playing with Scratch, lately I have been teaching myself coding through web design. After spending so much time in the abstract, 1s-and-0s-and-pixels headspace of coding, I needed my tinkering to be something concrete that I could do with my hands. I put together this Werkstatt-01 analog synthesizer from Moog. It was a little easier to put together than I anticipated (it took about 15 minutes), but the tinkering really commenced when I started thinking of ways to integrate the Raspberry Pi and Arduino. Most of the tweaks I came up with ended up being more software based than not, and my approach was a little “play pen” as opposed to “playground” as I followed instructions from the link above, but I still had fun. Musical tinkering is fun to me because even if I take the “play pen” route to build an instrument, I still get the “playground” of playing the instrument (pun INtended).


I chose to use Scratch as the technology to tinker with. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I found a turkey project to remix.
The original creator-ParkieLan, had created many costume changes. I enjoyed adding a new backdrop from the Scratch Library, the words “Happy Thanksgiving” and an upbeat tune from the Scratch Library. Adding the music and changing the costume color together was something new for me. It was fun to experiment with. If given more time to tinker… I would love to add more of a story line and additional backdrops to tell more of a story.


This fish looks pretty cool! I’m sure your students would be surprised. How long did it take you to make? How many renditions did it take to get to this point. I’m assumming that you are using scratch with this and Lego WeDos ?


How cool is this! An idea of a diorama that shows the colors of the rainbow is a great way to bring tinkering/creativity to students and would also work well with our weather unit.


The robofish took about three days to make. The first day I sketched designs for the fish body and scavenged materials while working on a different project. The next day I dedicated to the fish, building the chassis and body and starting programming in Scratch. The third day was all troubleshooting and redesigning and reprogramming problem areas. I built the chassis using parts from a Hummingbird kit, but I don’t like their wheel assembly and have been trying out some parts I bought at a hobby shop for RC cars. I did like how easy it is to integrate Hummingbird with Scratch.


FYI, I’ve noticed that vinegar is like magic for getting tannins stains off of my reusable cup. Mine has a metal interior, so you can see if it works as well on porcelain. :smile:


In May 2013, right after the end of first edition of LCL, @Bice_Rapaccini and I realized the first event dedicated to tinkering in Italy.

Since then I have always been focused on tinkering for my educational activities, I started to consider it a real paradigm and also a way for approaching various aspects of life.

L’Exploratorium, of which I learned during the first LCL, was (and it is) a big source of inspiration that lead me to make a range of trash toys, among which the ScaraBot (scarabocchi is the italian for scribbles and scarabot are creative scribble machines). I invented this name in order to give more dignity to a mechanism built with trash materials that is not simply copied, but it is the effort and creativity’s result of who made it (hard fun)

After, ( always during 2013) I participated to the first edition of Maker Faire in Rome proposing tinkering activities to make directly at my desk and during some workshop.

Exploring and experiencing have become the keys, both concepts and action, in my STEAM educational activity.
During these years, together with some other participants of LCL, in the forum today, I experimented several tinkering activities in courses, workshop, and summer camp, dedicated to kids and young.

Each time I consolidated my idea on tinkering’s value as learning method, and each time I learned something else myself, something new.

Another of my big challenge has been bringing tinkering into the school, or better to the teachers.
I had the opportunity to hold tinkering courses and workshop for teachers both in private and in public school, often most of them were quite sceptical, even if only for participating.

I know that after many of them changed their mind, they re-discovered the value of creativity and free experimentation as a driver for learning.

Thankfully there are persons like @Stefania_Bassi (and I could refer to many more teaching at school) who convinced me to organize the tinkering for her colleagues (Hereby some of their ScaraBot ).

But the challenges never end, among them, there is of course the challenge to convince parents that tinkering activities are useful…“Why do you make this tinkering? What is this tinkering for?”


I thank LCL for giving me the opportunity to play with my 6 years old daughter !

We had a little (but fun) idea: to use the tablet as a light table.
We asked ourself: what’s the most lighting thing in the word? the Sun
so we decided to make a sun! A backlit sun

we took inspiration from the great italian designer Munari book
“Drawing the Sun
Book by Bruno Munari”, Corraini

We did it many times to refine the size of the circle and the set : a setting sun was our favorite !

Then we change the theme: we drew a ghost with sparkling eyes!



This week I tried an app called Aurasma, which is an augmented reality app. We tried to make videos with kids and post them on real objects around the classroom. It worked. This was a great experience and not really that hard.
We are going to use this technology for our Movie Club and do short videos depicting different countries and their languages for the next school year. We will make a language stand where these videos will be hidden and other student will have to find and watch them.

Hope it works.


Well, in an Italian thread we were discussing on the exact meaning of the term tinkering, and this made me think of a tinkering activity not exactly physical, but anyway very amusing (at least for me).
I would like to propose it here, even though English is not my mother tongue and I have not a great experience with it, so that I think I’m not able to fully appreciate the result.
Anyway, I took a dictionary at hand (in this case Merriam-Webster online, but in Italian I took a “real” dictionary, just to make the activity more practical), and looked for the verb to tinker, and then substituted in the definition every verb (of which the online dictionary gave the meaning), repeating this for the number of letters of the first term (in this case, 6). In Italian I made this with nouns.
The result is as follow:

tinker: to work with something in an unskilled or experimental manner

work: to produce a desired effect or result
to [produce a desired effect or result] with something in an unskilled or experimental manner

produce: to cause to have existence
to [cause to have existence] a desired effect or result with something in an unskilled or experimental manner

cause: [no meaning for verb]
have: to acquire or get possession of
to cause to [acquire or get possession of ] existence a desired effect or result with something in an unskilled or experimental manner

acquire: to get as one’s own
get possession: to take into control
to cause to [get as one’s own] or [take into control] of existence a desired effect or result with something in an unskilled or experimental manner

get: to gain possession of
take: to seize or capture physically
to cause to [gain possession of] as one’s own or [seize or capture physically] into control of existence a desired effect or result with something in an unskilled or experimental manner

gain: [no meaning for verb]
seize: to understand fully and distinctly
capture: [no meaning for verb]
to cause to gain possession of as one’s own or [understand fully and distinctly] or capture physically into control of existence a desired effect or result with something in an unskilled or experimental manner

So, to tinker is to cause to gain possession of as one’s own or understand fully and distinctly or capture physically into control of existence a desired effect or result with something in an unskilled or experimental manner