Innovation is not about making something, it is about finding something new inside something known.
What innovative technologies can young children at the Kids Tinkering Studio Ltd use to learn? As educators, we are constantly asking that question. So perhaps if we flip the question around? Instead, what if we ask, “How can children learn to be innovators thru STEM and not just users, of technology? How could technology and STEM education promote curiosity and innovation?” These are the questions my husband Michael and I asked and we are and learning ways for children to innovate by approaching technology as raw material.
We have found that the way children play with gears, blocks or play dough is the way we allow them explore with technology. If you think about mathematics, we always want children to get into the depth of mathematics. With technology, it has been the opposite. Almost all the uses of technology distance human beings from its form and function. It is hard for people to think technologically— to understand the technological logic, think about the unknowns, imagine how parts are working inside these devises. We aim to encourage and give all children access to that depth of thinking at the Kids Tinkering Studio Ltd.
Our facilitators focus on habits of mind, Tinkering and STEM education for us is a vehicle through which we develop the habits of mind to notice, wonder and persist. We allow children to home in on the struggling, failing, and reflecting on how it felt to fail. We look at the process of learning, naming the learning and reflecting on it. We honor children’s small discoveries and support children’s thinking about themselves in relation to the materials they explore.
At the Kids Tinkering Studio Ltd, Michael and I have translated our ideas for STEM education in Trinidad and Tobago into hands-on exploration and design for children. We provide programs for children 6 months to 5 years old. In Preschool children are exploring and learning about electricity and simple circuits by working with blocks we made and other raw materials. They then connect their learning to their world by imagining the internal components of electronic toys, opening the toys to observe and identify the parts, and then re purposing and re configuring their internal components into their own invention.
For the children who come to us, their experiences also emphasize the importance of slowing down and taking notice. In our Saturday Kids Tinkering Studio sessions for example, children slow down to notice one small object, such as a knot or bolt, or spend time examining one small part of something that is new to them.
In our school program, through daily input in their journals, even our young children are shown how to observe and capture the smallest details of shape, size and texture of an object and to keep turning and looking at the object from different perspectives. Students then use their drawings to talk more about what they wonder. Our trained staff is there to prompt the children to ask and investigate “What if…” or “What happens when…” questions.
Please visit us at the Kids Tinkering Studio Ltd. #19 Alfredo Street Woodbrook. Call and connect with us or send us a message.