[Wk 5 - Activity] Take Time for Tinkering


This week we encourage you to take time to tinker with something:

  • Choose a material or technology to playfully experiment with
  • Describe and share a picture or video of what you were tinkering with
  • Reflect on your tinkering process

Here are some questions to guide your reflections:

What were you tinkering with? Did you try anything new or different?
What did you notice? What might you want to try next?

This post is also available in Italiano, Português, Español,日本語.

How to encourage Creativity as a Parent?


I made a laser castle. The “coherence” (lack of dispersal) of laser light is conceptually interesting but requires manipulation for a learning apparatus. It’s easy for the light to be unseen. This uses the top of the turret as an echo chamber for the light. Eye safety is a big concern too so this (1) occludes the light, (2) allows either the removal of the laser and/or (3) the removal of any number of wires.

I am considering drilling into the side of the turret so that students can put a microbit or Adafruit CPE or other light sensitive device there to tinker with different light thresholds. I’ll probably add another breadboard and more switches to route power through more of a maze, which I think will increase safety, and the opportunities for learning. :ok_hand:

Ruminations during making led to thinking about the mixing of lasers. From the little research I did it seems that mixed coherent light leads to something, in light, analogous to the heterodyne principle of soundwaves that makes a theremin work (where, as I understand it, two waves mix to produce two new waves, and of these, one is filtered out and the other is amplified). This science is beyond me but I am looking forward to floating the analogy in the direction of some students who will know what to do with it.


Broke this free of its plastic housing. I want to think of ways to fit this off-the-shelf board into a brooch or something

Down the line I’d like make a rechargeable brooch with a neopixel. My intern last summer designed a neopixel board that is close to being able to fit into a wearable object:

//UPDATE. Sat on the floor of the library maker space and played w the light and card stock and acrylic. Sketching


Also, I plan to iterate on my berry caddy at the library tomorrow where they have an epilog laser cutter. Some pics of my first try here.

Why a berry caddy? 2 reasons:

  1. I live near a lot of upick farms. We pick quite a bit and make jam
  2. Picking season is over and working on this caddy offsets the cold!

// UPDATE Made adjustments to where I attach the strap and cut from 5mm ply rather than 2 layers of 3mm. Need to glue up the latest version and take it outside and drop it a few times. I’m not sure a nail free caddy is going to hold up.


Today we made a four legged robo-insect, and tried to photograph and film it in after-school photography. This links to a student’s film of the project : )

// EDIT:

Students were highly motivated by the prospect of getting to document and publicly share this making. That was noteworthy as a teaching practice.

tinkering: I assembled the components for this project while my students planned and budgeted their own robot projects. [making-alongside students.] tape wrapped around the servos, to protect them so they can be reused; hot glue after the tape, and then another layer of tape for reinforcement.

next steps: later in the same day, I added more legs, ribs, plus a bellwire tail. (And at this point I need to switch to a board with enough pins, and a single power source.)

pedagogy: this rough prototype with 4 legs and identical code on each leg seemed to be a great provocation, accessible, challenging, with wide walls. we were running the robot in our commons as students left the building, and everyone was stopping by and offering a theory about what would make the robot move “forward”. so I think sharing this prototype and its code would be a great starting point.

What would you suggest to make the robot move “forward”?

EDIT No. 2:

Next day, had fun making this and trying to program it such that it could simultaneously move and not fall over.


hi ,
I did a small Multiplication table toy for the students to learn in a playful manner.
I hope so you like it. I made this with the help of Charts, Marker pen,Scale and Protector.

Also I did a small project in scratch to learn about angles in a playful manner.


Still preoccupied with an admissions portfolio . Yet a few concepts still have been developing. This is usually how tinkering starts for me. I am inspired. I keep that inspiration with me. Letting my subconscious work through it. When I have the grammars to begin, I start with visual language. Just started tinkering with these concepts, here:

“Fake, know Real.”

“UI Design System”


For my play, I have been working on ways to use my surplus knitting yarn. My daughter’s college knitting club uses donated yarn to knit baby hats for a women & children’s health center. When she was in elementary school the two of us were part of a local knitting group with a similar mission. As her Saturdays became filled with meets and other activities, we attended less and less often. Since I still had the original baby hat pattern, I decided that this would be a good way to work through my stash. The problem with the leftover ball of yarn is you never know how many yards are left. So you have to be flexible and be willing to change the design in the middle. The red hat being so round made me think of apples, so I added the stem and leaves, but then the hat decided that it was a tomato rather than an apple.

Since the hats are tiny, it also gives me a chance to improvise (tinker) with the pattern and final shape. I also like that the project is small enough to carry with me and work on in moments that I am sitting or waiting.

For the red & white hat, I tried a new method of knitting in the round called helix knitting. If you look carefully, you can see a spiral. Next step, three color spiral!

For the pink hat, I let it get more cone shaped at the top and learned to crochet a spiral.


Closed and realistic shape
Clay + iron (original nail of the First World War)

Open and unrealistic forms


Hi everyone!
I choose thinkering with ‘my life’ for the last 2 years. It has been a long journey but full of questioning, investigating, learning, reframing the assumptions and LCL community contributed to my tinkering by helping me finalize the process. Nowadays the tinkering process is transforming to a solid structure and here is the result: This is the logo of the project that I dedicated my life to make it happen. This is generally a learning environment based on ‘mindfullness’ where people search for the things that they most like to get involved and deal with by attending workshops from diverse areas, participating conversations with people who are the hero’s of their lives, and sharing experiences in small groups. It’s a mixture of hom&lab.
Thanks a lot to @mres and the people who create and maintain LCL community. I appreciate your efforts a lot and happy to be here :slight_smile: Thank you.


I thought about doing another tinkering project (maybe those with clay could look more like making?).
So here is my project of vertical vegetable garden:

Rainwater is collected (it would be interesting to apply those nets to catch droplets if there was a lack of water, and then to condense them) which, if in excess, can in turn be channeled into a special cistern (to irrigate / water).

The idea came to me thanks to the sore throat, which “forced” me to do the aerosol: the cardboard of the vials, making it rotate, reminded me of a series of channels.

Materials: cardboard, vinyl glue, wooden stick, piece of syringe for water collection (with integrated rain gauge), empty rubber thread inside to simulate tubes, clutches, paper scotch, soil collected from a flower pot , a piece of coating of a larger tube to simulate a container / tank for collecting water.

Since I also have a fever, you could also put an outdoor thermometer, and, why not, a more complete control unit to detect humidity, pressure, wind …

It was fun to build this object even if I overturned (initially the structure was not very stable and too full) the soil on the table risking to go to the PC keyboard.

Design and construction time: very fast, if you find the pieces you need right away!

The most frustrating part of the project? Having to clean up and tidy up :smile: (I advise not to use the kitchen table as a work surface, but to work directly on the floor on a tray or a cardboard or a newspaper: I used a cork board)





I wonder if the centipede robot would move forward if you added a teeny bit of ‘grip’ to the front OR back legs. I have this liquid rubber that’s an alt for heat shrink tubing. Something like that where you can add just a smidge. There must be something in the fridge or pantry that has similar properties…


Front or back only? Are you referring to the 6 legged creature or the 4 legged? (The middle legs of the 6 legged are purposefully longer . . . )

Rubberized feet was one of the student’s suggestions. I’m wondering if conductive paint has enough grip because then you could wire connections between legs and release the thing on some kind of copper tape maze or makey instrument. :musical_keyboard:

The servos are all programmed the same way, go to 70 degrees, wait 1 second, go to 110 degrees, wait, repeat. I’m wondering about changing and specifically randomizing this tempo (recalling something Rodney Brooks says about letting a robot just do whats in its nature).


Is this going to be installed outside? I am wondering what modifications could be made to protect against illness that might threaten the plants - where I live, I can’t grow European ginger, because of a disease called “rust” that threatens only certain species (I invested a lot trying several years in a row) - such as using hydroponic soil, installing this at a high elevation, or even installing indoors but still using rainwater.

Also, I wonder if you are tinkering with measuring water saturation of the soil (with microcontroller/sensor), and configuring the rain reserves so water is only released when the saturations clears a certain threshold? The challenge of doing so reminds me of the Turing computer product @Shelly_Sharp shared in another thread.


I’m referring to the six legged one. How are you powering those floras, btw?

Im suggesting that you mod the feet on the front or back only to get it to move forward. changing the speed of front or back servos would do it too. at least its worth a try. and sure, conductive feet on a path is yet another way to move it forward. So many options! How will you choose?

This is a real question: Do you have a general rule for how to choose which design option to try first?


Adafruit Circuit P Express actually - and if I were more goal oriented they’d be replaced with a Feather huzzah (cause I’d like them to be IoT & driven by internet data) - and LithIon pwr.

No! And it’s not a rule, but my conscious mind doesn’t seem involved (it doesn’t even go to work with me).


Wow David, I am not an expert botanist or agronomist …
I know nothing about soil saturation, nor plant diseases.
I can instead think that, if the tank is full, other solutions can be envisaged, such as a controlled release in the municipal network, leading to a purifier …

Being a vertical structure, on the wall, it should be not bulky, and positionable on a terrace, or in a courtyard, or enlarging it along a wall of a house (but checking the most favorable exposure).