STEM Buffets for an expanding Tinkerverse

A supply distribution center given to classrooms that allows students to tinker, design and build projects and then share their creations.

Photo of Jordan Kruger
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Tinkerverse is a web platform in which a student can enter an online community to display their ideas, big questions and creations to other young creative minds.

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A school club, classroom or other educational group can register to be a part of the Tinkerverse, an online universe for posting creations and ideas.  Depending on your age, your group’s home planet would be located in a particular galaxy, but you are free to roam on the Tinkerverse website and within the Tinkerverse app to look at creations taking place around this interactive universe.  You earn points by posting your creation and earning likes for your idea as it gets linked to other social media sources.  

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In order to complete projects and post them to Tinkerverse, schools can participate in STEM Buffet in order to receive materials .

STEM Buffet provides an opportunity for students within a school in need of supplies to enter design competitions with others.  It offers a stock of tools and materials that allows students to explore their own imaginations and generates opportunities to learn from other peers at their school and other participating schools.  Teachers that choose to participate in STEM Buffet can apply for the program and if approved, they will receive a mobile shelving unit full of screws, pipes, wood, dowels, wheels, motors, wires and many other parts that can me molded into student creations.

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Whether the teacher wants this to take place in-class or as an afterschool club, students receive a the challenge of the month on the Tinkerverse website, which gives an open-ended challenge and criteria for what to build.  They then get to use any materials that they need in order to complete their creation.  Once a project has been built, students will post their design to the Tinkerverse web portal that is shared with other participating STEM Buffet sites to create a virtual showcase.  Students will not only find gratification in the success of their self-built project, but they also will see a diverse compilation of creations from other students which in turn expands the creativity of all participants.   Participating schools are also encouraged to share creations internally within their school to get more students involved in the next build.  The cycle then starts anew and the next challenge is issued and buffet supplies are recycled when possible or are re-stocked by the organization.

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Tinkerverse and STEM Buffet offers student-centered learning opportunities where students tinker with a set of supplies and build something from their own imaginations.  It is intentionally designed to inspire more students to join each month to get involved in this fun and innovative process.


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Photo of Grace

Love this idea. It reminds me of IDEO's office, where there are so many great tools at your fingertips for designing! To follow on what Margaret P said, I think there are several other organizations who might be intrigued by getting involved here. Several museums are doing amazing work around tinkering/making.

I wonder, though, would teachers know how to use this? How would you support teachers to know what kinds of monthly item to assign and to help kids tinker?

Photo of Jordan Kruger

Hi Grace,

Thanks so much for the ideas and encouragement.  Sorry for the late response.

Would teachers know how to use this? How would you support teachers to know what kinds of monthly item to assign and to help kids tinker?

-The great thing about this is that the teacher doesn't have to do anything except set classroom rules and behavior expectations if necessary.  Other than that, the projects are actually designed to be completely student-centered and think that they will work better if the the teacher just gets out of the way and let the students create on their own.
-Projects will be created by the STEM Buffet team and posted online on the portal.  I think it will be similar to Rube Goldberg challenges where there is a presented end game and a set of constraints.

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