Why the Art of Tinkering is Essential for Your Kid’s STEM Education

Recall your earliest memories of making or inventing something to solve a problem. What did you do? To make paper aircraft fly farther, did you fold and refold them? Tried to reassemble an old toy after taking it apart?

These tasks constitute tinkering, an activity your kid would be engaged in when they start their STEM education, coding for kids and robotics for kids.

Understanding Tinkering

You may have spent considerable time performing these activities, problem-solving and thinking about them. What was the source of the materials? Did you go back to your ideas over the course of several days to refine and improve them?

Children initially investigate the physical characteristics of materials using their senses. They experiment by disassembling, reassembling, and figuring out how things operate as they attempt to construct and create something using tools.

Children can ask questions, form plans, collaborate, test ideas, solve issues, refine ideas to make them better, and share their products with others when faced with a challenge. It’s an approach your kids would apply in STEM fields and a learning environment for science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects.

Scientists and engineers use these methods of thought and activities. When faced with a dilemma, these experts work to provide real-world solutions to challenges in the face of limitations, such as a lack of resources, time, or money.

Tinkering vs Making and Engineering

Is there a difference between tinkering, making and engineering? While you may tend to see them as the same, some minor differences do exist.

Engineering is a more serious hobby, and tinkering is its lighthearted cousin.We need a bridge” or “We need a house to live in” are some of the problems that need to be solved by applying engineering.

On the other hand, tinkering begins by asking questions like, “What can I do with this?” or “How does this work?” The phrase, making is another factor. Making falls between tinkering and engineering, even though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

You can understand the difference between the three terms in a straightforward way as under:

While tinkering is using the stuff, making is the process of using things to create things (that occasionally accomplish things but sometimes are just cool), while engineering is using stuff to build stuff with a purpose.

Tinkering helps kids learn about materials’ characteristics and tools’ capabilities. Additionally, kids are able to hone their fine motor skills.

Tinkering paves the way to making something, and it is unquestionably the basis for more advanced engineering, technology, and making. The foundation of all making and engineering lies in learning to use tools, comprehend material attributes, and locate original solutions to issues. And the ideal way to start is by encouraging kids to experiment with their abilities.

Designing Challenges in Tinkering

The design problems present strategies for integrating early literacy with all facets of your child’s development (social and emotional, physical, and cognitive) and subject-specific learning (mathematics, science, social studies, the arts, and technology).

The challenges should start with the instruction to experiment with and learn about the tools and materials, which is the essence of tinkering. Kids should learn how tools and materials function, how to disassemble things, and how to reassemble them via this experimentation. Additionally, they hone their fine motor skills.

It takes time to tinker, so tinkering incorporates iteratio. Kids must be urged to try a different tactic or use alternative supplies or equipment when something doesn’t work.
The challenges must stimulate students to create something that will aid in problem-solving.

Each experience has a technical challenge to add complexity. When completing these technical jobs, kids must consider certain constraints and conditions, which is how engineers work in real life.

The problems are designed to have a “low threshold, high ceiling, and wide walls.” A low threshold, or floor, indicates that getting started is simple. Before really creating something, young children will spend a lot of time investigating the characteristics of various materials and tools.

A high ceiling is an indicator that there are numerous methods to broaden the challenges. Small changes can increase their complexity or difficulty. Kids can investigate the design difficulties in various ways and include content from other learning domains thanks to the broad walls.

Ensure your kids have access to a wide variety of options to tackle the problem rather than limiting them to a small number of resources that you have chosen.

The challenges’ primary objective is to encourage kids to use their imaginations, take chances, and solve problems. Children working on these design issues can do so inside and outside the school, just like engineers solve problems everywhere.

To satisfy your kid’s needs, you would have to modify the challenges using your own understanding of the skills, knowledge and experience the kids possess.

These tasks, which emphasise STEM, let kids use their math and scientific knowledge in exciting and worthwhile ways. They offer an opportunity to practise and hone critical executive function abilities like organising information, persevering, planning, focusing attention, and problem-solving.

The Tinkering Experience

The process of tinkering and creating experiences is more significant than the final product. Children participating in unrestricted and open-ended tinkering and making activities develop lifelong abilities. Children’s capacity to utilise tools, work with others, experiment, observe, make discoveries, communicate, and endure will continue to grow as they age.

Good maker spaces also provide your kid with a good tinkering experience. It is a location where people congregate to experiment, make things, invent, create, explore, and make discoveries utilising various authentic tools and materials.

A flexible room layout is essential for problems involving engineering, creating, and tinkering. Some difficulties might be solved at a table with one or two kids, while others might necessitate moving furniture to make room for more significant projects and more kids.

The maker movement, which is sweeping the nation’s schools, libraries, maker spaces, and museums, heavily emphasises tinkering. People’s urge to use their hands to make something drives this movement. However, it’s a concept that’s not new to any kid, including yours. Tinkering is something that comes naturally to kids. You only need to give the right push.