THE TINKER SPACE
Tinker /tiNGk r/ n. to make small changes to something in order to improve or repair it. e
What is Tinkering
The Lower School has been brainstorming about a “Makerspace” since last year. The team, led by the Academic Technology Di- rector, Seth Hubbert and the LS Curriculum Coordinator, Ellen Burdge, librarian, Karine Luguet, and LS Tech coordinator, Philippe Charpantier, took on the challenge to create a
new space dedicated to tinkering and making.
Tinkering is about hands-on experiences, experimenting, learning from failures, solving problems in an
unstructured time in order to explore, invent and innovate. Tinkering is very captivating and engaging since it
overlaps with so many areas such as science, design, art,
engineering and technology, so crucial to a 21st-century
We wanted to start as an extra-curricular space to
experiment with projects in a playful and creative way.
Students would develop manipulative skills, collaborate
on group projects appealing to both boys and girls.
Starting in November of 2014, 4th- and 5th-grade
students could sign up daily to come to the Tinker Space
during their lunch recess. Later on, an after school session dedicated to 3rd graders was added.
Karine and Philippe visited schools, Maker
Faires, the Tinkering Studio at the Exploratori-um, and creative reuse centers such as SCRAP
and Recology. They started collecting recy-clable material from the school and through
parent donations. They also exchanged with
local educators and started crafting a program
offering short-term projects as well as ongoing activities.
Some successful projects included disassembling obsolete digital equipment in order to
create signage for the Tinker Space, building
a cardboard city, doll-houses and automata
(moving mechanical object). The Tinker Band
rocked the space playing cardboard instruments with a Makey Makey, a circuit board
turning objects into touchpads. Paper and
squishy circuits, alligator clips, copper tape,
LED lights, Marble Run and glue guns became
part of a new inspiring vocabulary.
As the Tinker Space became more and more popular, teachers got curious and interested. Many teachers
visited the Tinker Space while in session. The goal is now
to make a long-term bridge between classroom and interdisciplinary projects and the Tinker Space, which has
already started! For example, 4th-graders created models
of the digestive system, and 5th-graders participated in
the Air Project Challenge, coordinated with the Science
Coach. 2nd- and 5th-graders experimented with paper
circuits for an art project. We hope to expand such initiatives to the other grades next year.
The icing on the cake was delivered on April 17th,
during the Design Faire, a schoolwide event showcasing
upper school student projects realized in the Design Lab
under the direction of Art and Design Teacher, Barbara
Abecassis, and lower school student projects from the
Tinker Space led by Philippe Charpantier and Karine
The Design Faire was an engaging, interactive and
successful event. We were all very proud to witness our
students presenting their projects with dedication and
pride. Time to inspire innovation!
REDISCOVERING THE PHYSICAL WORLD
Matilda Holtz, 7 Red, learns how a garment is
created by creating one herself, using an old-fashoned tool: the sewing machine.