5 lessons at the Tinkering Studio

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“Tinkering,” the new exhibit at the Museum of Ancient Life, provides kids with a hands-on learning experience.

“Tinkering,” the new exhibit at the Museum of Ancient Life, provides kids with a hands-on learning experience. (Photo by Rebecca Lane)

For the past five years, Thanksgiving Point has opened a new exploratory exhibit on July 1st. After a successful year with “Sound of Listening,” last year’s exhibition, the Museum of Ancient Life is opening their new exhibition “Tinkering.” With more than 20 interactive exhibits, science becomes more of a thrill than a classroom assignment. Here are some lessons to learn at the Tinkering Studio that don’t necessarily have to do with science:

1.  Learning is fun

With national debates over Common Core and what techniques are best for teaching children in the classroom, the Tinkering Studio allows children the freedom to learn through interaction and hands-on activities.

“You are kind of part of the exhibit,” said Dave Stroud, director of interactive exhibits. “You get to build your museum while you’re here.”

People can create electricity, design their own pinbell machine, capture a picture of their shadows, build a product (which they get to take home with them) and more.

2.  There’s more than meets the eye

“We live in a finished product society,” Stroud said, showing off his iPhone as a prime example.

In a high-tech society, computers are running the world and even making their way into schools. While children won’t specifically be building a computer, Stroud wants to do “take aparts.” Take aparts are when he brings in old machines, tears them into pieces and explores the inside. Stroud hopes to make take aparts a series with potentially one of the objects being a record player.

3.  Science Thinking

Throughout the workshop, there are tinkering mentors to help make the interactive museum experience a good one. Using trial and error, kids can not only learn about how things work, but they can compete and work together to figure things out.

The marble drop requires taking apart the maze design after the children are done, but pictures of past designs hang next to the marble drop so that children can keep a memory of their work. (Photo by Rebecca Lane)

The marble drop requires taking apart the maze design after the children are done, but pictures of past designs hang next to the marble drop so that children can keep a memory of their work. (Photo by Rebecca Lane)

“Most of the stuff we think is fun is competitive,” Stroud said. “We just start playing and they start doing it.”

Each activity encourages using “Science Thinking,” a process the museum keyed for learning:  (1) make observations, (2) make comparisons, (3) draw conclusions and (4) make predictions.

4.  Ask Questions

The answer to why things are the way they are aren’t just handed out in the Tinkering Studio. Instead, children use the science thinking technique to figure out why themselves.

“It’s more about questions or asking better questions,” Stroud said. “These (the activities) are tools so that people can do these investigations.”

5.  Problem Solving

With encouraging questions and having kids find solutions to their problems, they learn the value of working through difficulties.

“(The exhibit) prepares you to think of your own challenges,” Stroud said.

The Tinkering Studio will open on July 1st to the public. The studio will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Admission to “Tinkering” is included in the museum entrance fee; it costs $8 for children and $10 for adults Monday through Thursday and $10 for children and $12 for adults on Friday and Saturday.

Learn more about the featured exhibits at thanksgivingpoint.org.

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Rebecca Lane

While her first language is sarcasm, Rebecca dabbles in English and Russian to achieve her lifelong dream of being a journalist. A BYU sports fan, reading enthusiast and wannabe world traveler, Rebecca is a Colorado transplant that is convinced Colorado's mountains are much larger than the many Utah County peaks. Rebecca manages UtahValley360.com for Bennett Communications. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccalane.

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