About this Course
The Tinkering Fundamentals course will offer educators and enthusiasts an opportunity to develop a practice of tinkering and making. We see tinkering as a serious endeavor—one that is generalizable across content and especially good at interweaving disciplines in a way that leads to complex projects and individualized learning opportunities. Tinkering has recently been introduced into the educational field as a potential driver of creativity, excitement, and innovation in science learning. It is seen by many as an effective means to engage in exploring STEM concepts, practices and phenomena. Tinkering typically blends the high and low tech tools of science along with a strong aesthetic dimension that supports children’s (and adults) self expression. For over a decade, the Exploratorium has been developing science-rich tinkering activities for both children and adults. We see tinkering as a fun yet serious endeavor—spanning many disciplines and content areas and fostering connections between art, science, and technology. Learners follow their own path to understanding by investigating tools and materials and exploring questions that interest them. This opens up a wide range of possible answers rather than any “right” one, particularly for teaching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) subjects in the classroom. This course centers on circuit-related activities, which offer a wealth of opportunities for thinking through making. In this course, we won’t just show you how we develop tinkering activities; we’ll also delve into why. We’ll focus on three important aspects: activity design around specific materials, facilitation strategies, and environmental organization. We’ll also share some guiding principles and learning indicators we’ve developed that can help you integrate tinkering into your elementary and middle-school science program. Whether you’re new to making or a seasoned tinkerer, we hope this course will help you take the next step! OUR APPROACH TO TEACHING This is a hands-on workshop, not a lecture-based class. Participation is essential! We want everyone to be making and tinkering together: trying things out, asking questions, sharing ideas, and reflecting together as a community. This is a wonderful chance to tinker and learn alongside people from all over the world and from all walks of life, so don’t be shy! PLEASE NOTE: Although this course will not have active instructor participation, we have put a great deal of effort towards creating a supportive space that encourages exploration. We’ll give you a few ways to get started; prompt you to share your own observations and experience as learners, designers and facilitators; and hopefully spark interesting conversations and discoveries along the way. While it’s not a requirement, we encourage you to take this class with a friend or colleague or meet with other people in your area: having support or doing activities with others will enhance your experience and help you stay engaged. REQUIRED COURSE MATERIALS You will need several tools and materials to do weekly course activities. Pre-bundled materials are available from the Exploratorium store at www.artoftinkering.com. Please obtain all materials as soon as possible, well in advance of when you will need them in the course. Be sure to allow extra time for shipping and, if you are outside the U.S., for customs. In some cases, certain items may require assembly. Please refer to the Resources section to review this course’s activity guides.
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100% online courses

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Beginner Level

Beginner Level

Clock

Approx. 11 hours to complete

Suggested: 6 weeks of study, 1-2 hours/week
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English
Globe

100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Beginner Level

Beginner Level

Clock

Approx. 11 hours to complete

Suggested: 6 weeks of study, 1-2 hours/week
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

1

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Introduction to Tinkering

What is tinkering? What does it mean to you? Is it different from engineering or other forms of making? We'll explore these questions in the readings and forums while getting a sneak preview of the activities we'll be sharing over the following modules....
Reading
3 videos (Total 12 min), 5 readings
Video3 videos
Course Overview1m
Preview of Activities6m
Reading5 readings
Week Overview10m
Your turn10m
Course Overview10m
Course format10m
Credit Requirements10m

2

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Initial Explorations

Tinkering is all about making, so let's get started. In this module we begin with a basic circuit board activity, which helps learners make physical and conceptual connections between electrical components. You will learn how to build your own set to play with and why we designed it this way....
Reading
6 videos (Total 32 min), 2 readings
Video6 videos
Designing for Tinkerability: Circuit Boards8m
Inspiration: Shih Chieh (CJ) Huang8m
Making Circuit Boards5m
Classroom Connection: Circuit Boards3m
Pedagogical Perspective: Rob Semper3m
Reading2 readings
Week Overview: Initial Explorations with Tinkering10m
Your Turn10m

3

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Learning Dimensions

In this module, we'll explore erratic motion and art-making with an activity called Scribbling Machines. We'll also investigate how tinkering maps on to different indicators of learning....
Reading
6 videos (Total 39 min), 2 readings
Video6 videos
Designing for Tinkerability: Scribbling Machines6m
Inspiration: Evil Mad Scientist8m
Making Scribbling Machines6m
Classroom Connection: Scribbling Machines5m
Pedagogical Perspective: Edith Ackermann7m
Reading2 readings
Week Overview: Identifying Dimensions of Learning10m
Your Turn10m

4

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Tinkering Tenets and Personal Expression

We'll explore the aesthetic dimensions of tinkering with a full rundown of our Paper Circuits and Sewn Circuits activities, including key design elements and important principles....
Reading
6 videos (Total 40 min), 2 readings
Video6 videos
Sewn Circuits7m
Paper Circuits7m
Inspiration: Jie Qi10m
Pedagogical Perspective: Mike Eisenberg7m
Classroom Connection4m
Reading2 readings
Week Overview: Personal Expression Through Tinkering10m
Your Turn10m

5

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Coding, Computation and Facilitation Strategies

A look at the high-tech side of tinkering. In this module, we'll also explore strategies for facilitation and deep engagement....
Reading
5 videos (Total 38 min), 2 readings
Video5 videos
MaKey MaKey7m
Toy Take-Apart8m
Pedagogical Perspective: Gever Tulley5m
Pedagogical Perspective: Mitch Resnick9m
Reading2 readings
Week Overview: Computation, Deconstruction, and Facilitation10m
Your Turn10m

6

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Putting It All Together

It's your turn! How will you take what you've learned in this class and apply it to your own life and practice? We'll help you come up with a detailed action plan and get feedback from other students in the class. By the end of this module you'll complete your project, your peer assessments and review other people's work....
Reading
4 videos (Total 17 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
Video4 videos
Classroom Connection5m
Wrap Up of the Course1m
Pedagogical Perspectives5m
Reading2 readings
Week Overview: Putting It All Together10m
Your Turn10m
4.8

Top Reviews

By MMAug 14th 2016

It's a interesting approach about how to teach and to learn in STEAM subjects.

Instructors

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Mike Petrich

Director, Informal Learning Center
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Karen Wilkinson

Director, Tinkering Studio
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Luigi Anzivino

Professional Development Lead

About Exploratorium

The Exploratorium is a twenty-first-century learning laboratory, an eye-opening, always-changing, playful place to explore and tinker. For more than forty years, we’ve built creative, thought-provoking exhibits, tools, programs, and experiences that ignite curiosity, encourage exploration, and lead to profound learning. We use the same tools and approaches to design compelling professional development programs for teachers ranging from novice to expert, elementary to high school, and formal and informal, in fields of science, math, and engineering. To date the Exploratorium has provided in-depth, multi-year programming to thousands of educators from over 450 school districts in 47 states and in many different countries....

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Once you enroll for a Certificate, you’ll have access to all videos, quizzes, and programming assignments (if applicable). Peer review assignments can only be submitted and reviewed once your session has begun. If you choose to explore the course without purchasing, you may not be able to access certain assignments.

  • If you pay for this course, you will have access to all of the features and content you need to earn a Course Certificate. If you complete the course successfully, your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page - from there, you can print your Certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile. Note that the Course Certificate does not represent official academic credit from the partner institution offering the course.

  • Yes! Coursera provides financial aid to learners who would like to complete a course but cannot afford the course fee. To apply for aid, select "Learn more and apply" in the Financial Aid section below the "Enroll" button. You'll be prompted to complete a simple application; no other paperwork is required.

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