Using a combination of tracks and pipes, little hands busily chart out a path for a marble down a wall. Across the room, kids are preoccupied sending balls and hoops flying in different directions on spinning turntable.
Welcome to Science Centre Singapore’s new Tinkering Studio – where learning is by doing, getting things wrong is part of the process and experimentation rules.
The result of a collaboration between Science Centre Singapore and San Francisco-based science centre, The Exploratorium, The Tinkering Studio is a hands-on activity space where kids are encouraged to fiddle around and come up with new ideas. Made up of various activity stations, kids can concoct solutions to challenges posted, or even choose to redefine the problem and set their own challenges.
Launched on 22 January 2016 by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs, activities at The Tinkering Studio draw on The Exploratorium’s more than 15 years experience in developing tinkering activities.
Activities at The Tinkering Studio
A highlight at The Tinkering Studio is the Marble Machine.
Against a peg wall, kids can get fiddly with an assortment of everyday objects that include vacuum hoses and funnels as they build a path to direct a marble on a journey down the 13.6 square metre wall. While a label by the wall suggests trying making the marble travel down as slowly as possible, it is up to a child’s imagination to decide how “Rube Goldberg-istic” to be, or even what he or she would like to do.
The Marble Machine even provides enough breadth for children to work collaboratively on constructing a path for the marble.
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At the Pinbell station, children get to design their own pinball machine. A collection of blocks and bells create unique melodies when struck by a bouncing ball à la pinball machine. Kids can stretch out across the table to arrange and rearrange the different blocks and bells, “composing” their own little ditties with the objects.
At the Turntable, kids can challenge each other to see who can keep balls and rings spinning on a rotating spindle for as long as possible. Experimentation is key and there are countless permutations to try out with different sized hoops, balls and “sweet spots” on the spinning turntable.
Other activities at The Tinkering Studio include a Shadow Kaleidoscope, Hold Saw Rhythm, Wind Table and more. There is also a Light Play installation where simple materials and light sources can be used to create a collaborative artwork.
More Tinkering to Come
Together with The Tinkering Studio’s launch, Science Centre Singapore also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with The Exploratorium to further promote the tinkering movement in the region.
A separate MoU was also signed with The Institution of Engineers, Singapore to promote science and engineering in Singapore. This will result in nationwide events such as National Engineers Day and an upcoming Engineering Exhibition at Science Centre Singapore.
Associate Professor Lim Tit Meng, Science Centre Singapore’s Chief Executive said, “Tinkering involves project-based discovery, and encourages learning through making connections as opposed to step-by-step guidance. In developing the next generation of thinkers, scientists and engineers, we need to start young and engage minds in fun-filled science exploration through ‘thinking with their hands’. I am happy that our partnerships with The Exploratorium and IES enable us to contribute towards upstream efforts to Singapore’s next phase of innovation-driven growth.”
The Tinkering Studio is located at SCS Hall E. Enter through Hall C, past the E-mmersive Experiential Environments exhibition. Admission is free for all Science Centre Singapore ticket holders.