Far Out Friday: The school where students go to tinker

by Brett Henebery08 May 2015

A school in the US is creating a new generation of builders and fixers (sorry, Christopher Pyne), training students to make the best of their craftsman-like abilities through a series of workshops and camps.

Tinkering School – based in California – opened in 2005, as a project of the Institute of Applied Tinkering (IAT).

The school’s mission is to “bring the highest quality hands-on experiential learning to kids everywhere”, helping to create the next generation of builders.

The school runs several programs spanning from L.A to Chicago to Austin, all working together to provide students with summer day and after-school camps, workshops and welding classes.

The minimum age for students to attend the one-day workshops and summer camps is 6, but students as young as 8 are allowed to try their hand at welding. Here, the students are given the chance to harness 20V of electricity, creating temperatures above 1,371C, melting together two pieces of steel into one.

The school has no set curriculum with exams or evaluations. Instead, the learning is project-based and gives students the freedom to focus on their individual areas of interest.

By the time they finish their workshops the students are expected to have developed a more refined sense of how to build things – not only in the sense of building physical structures, but also how to manifest an idea into reality.

During some of the workshops, the students come to discover that the more elaborate projects are, the greater the chance of failure. But that’s nothing for students to get upset about because failure is something that the school happens to celebrate.

As part of its philosophy, the school says “the freedom to fail is essential”, because a fail-positive attitude allows students to “play in the face of adversity”.

For more information, visit Tinkering School’s website here.