Why we all need time to tinker with tech

Tinkering rolls personalized learning and critical thinking into one powerful package

Picture this: a grandparent working on a car in the garage or a kid figuring out the inner workings of a clock. A group of students with screwdrivers in hand taking apart old desktop computers to learn about circuits. Or a parent encouraging their child to invent contraptions for feeding pets or taking apart everyday objects such as old clocks and doorknobs to figure out how things work.

Tinkering in the modern context is a process of trying something to figure out what works or doesn’t to find your way to the best solution, often going through many iterations, or changes, along the way. Tinkering is more a philosophy than a single practice and thus can be applied to many forms of learning for all learners.

In a blog post discussing their work, authors Hunter Maats and Katie O’Brien discuss the science behind making mistakes and becoming experts. Experts are not made by practice alone, instead they deliberately tinker to determine which strategies are working or not working, and strategically develop areas that need improvement.…Read More

These amazing kits make electronics simple and fun for every student

One tool erases frustration and boredom and makes electronics fun for students

littlebits-stemVery young students often have a hard time engaging meaningfully in electronics projects. Sure, most middle school kids can learn the function of basic electronic components and follow a set of instructions to create a basic circuit on a breadboard. Often, however, their work suffers from the mistakes, short-circuits, and sloppiness that plague any novice.

More limiting than the struggle to keep bare wires from accidentally brushing each other, is the wall that most students hit after they create the alarm circuit or lie detector that they built from the schematic in the textbook.

While their imaginations are ripe with ideas of things they might like to build, most young students lack the fundamental knowledge to push beyond the canned circuits provided by their teacher and to create something original.…Read More