Please note the dictionary meaning of ‘tinkering’ on the Home Page of Tinkering Lab.
“tinkering”, the most important operative word for effective learning
attempt to repair or improve something in a casual or desultory way.
“he spent hours tinkering with the car”
To get your attention towards the importance of Tinkering, We’ll throw some hard-hitting statements about it:
- Tinkering is the most natural way of learning.
- Anybody who never tinkered, never invented or discovered anything. Even Serendipity required some element of tinkering, or you won’t notice the discovery.
- Tinkering was as effective a learning tool for making stone implements in the stone age as it was for Wright Brothers for inventing the airplane.
- Tinkering was a way to learn even when formal education did not exist.
- Formal education has been killing tinkering for a long time. We have now rediscovered the importance of Tinkering in learning.
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Science Labs are usually setup for purely academic projects. In contrast, Tinkering Lab is not for any specific subject or topic, but is for a wide range of experiences, including science.
Some major differences are as follows:
- Science Labs are designed for guided experimenting.
- Tinkering Labs are for open-ended experimenting, with no single solution.
- Science Labs are may have expensive or fragile equipment.
- Tinkering Labs have equipment appropriate to the age of the intended students so that they can tinker without the fear of damaging equipment.
- Science Labs may have dangerous material.
- Tinkering Lab material is age appropriate. The danger in any material or tool is planned for unsupervised use. Some tolerance to getting hurt is expected.
- Science Labs activities correspond to topics in text books.
- Tinkering Labs are more intended towards life and creative skills. The skills developed in Tinkering Labs may or may not directly help academics, but indirect advantage is most certainly observed.
- Science Labs have a static design.
- Tinkering Labs are intended to evolve with the institution. Even to start with, the design and setup of the Tinkering Lab varies from institution to institution, based on a number of factors. Even something as simple as availability of outdoor space makes a big difference to the setup of a Tinkering Lab.
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Tinkering is the most natural way of learning, not only by humans but even by other thinking animals, such as monkeys. Yes, just like humans, all thinking animals tinker.
However, in recent times, all over the world educationists have rediscovered tinkering and the interest is growing fast. In some countries some from of tinkering has been introduced in the school curriculum. In UK this is called D&T, or Design and Technology. In US the inclusion of tinkering is in the form of STEM Education.
The inclusion if tinkering has happened because the skills developed because of tinkering are needed today and will be more so in the coming times. The countries that develop a culture of tinkering will acquire more and more intellectual property (such as copyrights and patents). Others will be paying through their noses to use this knowledge.
Unfortunately, as of now India is headed towards the ‘Others’ group. Even today we are paying heavily for products that should cost a fraction of what it actually does. This ranges from medicines to toys and everything in between.
Any country that is planning for the future needs to take up tinkering seriously and make learning science less serious for kids.