For the past year or so, we’ve experimented with sharing some of our tinkering studio activities with members at a couple of local boys and girls clubs. It’s been really amazing experience to get to work with the kids and staff on some of our favorite tinkering projects along with new ideas that Meg, Shirin, and others have developed specifically for the after school program.
One of the most rewarding aspects of working with the same group of kids for multiple sessions has been setting up experiences where their skills can develop over time. This fall, at the Visitacion Valley club, we focused mainly on woodworking, practicing tool use with drills, saws, screwdrivers, and hammers. As well, the kids honed their problem posing/problem solving techniques as they experimented in depth with a single material. They spent the last three weeks of the semester working on wooden pinball (or pin(e)ball) machines with unique plungers, flippers, borders, and interesting bumpers and targets. For the last day, we turned the room into an arcade and invited their families and others club members to play with their creations.
To show how each pinball machine grew in complexity over the several sessions, Meg printed out photos of each machine in various stages of completion. I really liked how this club member took those photos and displayed them prominently on his machine, showing pride in the process of creation as well as in the finished design. We’ll start up the program again in a few weeks and we’re looking forward to having more fun tinkering experiences in the spring.
The Boys and Girls Club posted an article about the event on their website here: DIY Pinball!