Arkansas museums gather for tinkering

By Aiona Bones on February 5, 2012

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Valerie2The Exploratorium is working with museums across the state of Arkansas to create spaces for open ended making at the intersection of art, science, and technology. While the studios’ infrastructure is being sawed, drilled and bolted together in San Francisco, the folks in Arkansas have been just as busy preparing themselves to direct and facilitate tinkering as soon as it arrives.

It’s a cherished part of tinkering philosophy that people learn best by trying things themselves, so participants in our latest professional development workshop got a chance to facilitate tinkering activities directly with the public. In the group discussion afterwards we were deeply impressed with the participant’s insightful comments and touching zacstories about their day. Here’s just a tiny collection of the good stuff they had to say:

J.P. said he noticed a connection between tinkering and social work in that there’s a tension in knowing when to help and when to step back. If you help too much the relationship becomes symbiotic. Instead, he said, you need to show visitors how to solve their own problems.

Ray told us he wanted the visitors to feel like they were playing and having fun, not like they were learning or that he was teaching them. The learning mattered, but he hoped it felt accidental.

Lynne noticed that sometimes all a visitor needed was to have her start them with something simple, like lighting a lightbulb, and that they could elaborate from there.

Valerie found that if there were too many examples on the work table, visitors would often just copy what they saw. She said she noticed that having just the right amount helped them tap into their own creativity.

Click here for the full workshop agenda and lots more photos.

The Arkansas Museum Network tinkering project is made possible by The Tinkering Studio at the Exploratorium in collaboration with Exhibit Services.

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