Drills, saws, hot glue and hammers aren’t usually what come mind when you think about kids and play. Think again. In the wonderful world of tinkering this is just the tip of the iceberg. Using creativity, math, science, imagination and the magic of trial and error, tinkering teaches future inventors about the world around them. Want to learn how to do it? Listen to these tips and tricks from the best tinkerers out there and you’ll be all set for your next project.

Karen Wilkinson

As the director of The Tinkering Studio in the Exploratorium, the imagination playground in San Francisco, Karen is the one in charge of giving children all over the Bay Area the tools for tinkering. If you’re looking for online access to this tinker-topia, take a trip to The Tinkering Studio’s blog. As Karen says, “it’s filled with whimsical takes on science and art.  We like to think of it as equal parts inspiration and information.”

As the child of a science teacher, her mom’s, “physics and chemistry stockroom was like [her] other sandbox.” Now, she’s here to make sure your kiddos have the same type of opportunities, but you have to do your part too. If you’re just getting into tinkering, make sure to embrace Karen’s advice and, “try hard not to ‘take over’ on the project and ‘sit on [your] hands’ more often.”

Karen sees tinkering as the most important 21st century skill because it is, “a marriage of play and inquiry.” If you’re looking for a way to put your skills to the test, try one of Karen’s favorite activities, the artistic and robotic scribble machine. These are guaranteed to give your little ones hours of educational entertainment.

Online: tinkering.exploratorium.edu/blog

Do you like to tinker with your kids? Share your favorite project in a Comment below. 

— Natasha Davis

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