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COVID-19 and Distance Learning

By March 13, 2020April 2nd, 2020Tinkering News

Resources for Schools Managing COVID-19 and Distance Learning

As we are all very aware, schools across the country are either closed or about to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and academic staff are scrambling to put distance learning plans together for their students. My own son’s school closed yesterday, and I am a board member of another school (Brightworks, in San Francisco) that will be closed starting Monday.

So, I wanted to share a couple of resources that I hope will be valuable to the teachers, administrators, and families in our Tinkering Labs community.

The Brightworks Distance Learning Plan

My Tinkering Labs co-founder Gever Tulley started Brightworks back in 2011 with the idea of creating a deeply child-centered school, where kids are the architects of their own education and all learning is inspired by the motto “Everything is Interesting.”  The Brightworks team met the coronavirus pandemic with the same attitude, and I think the resulting Distance Learning Plan is excellent and could be a valuable resource for many other schools.  The team created it by surveying the plans published by many other organizations, integrating the best ideas and adding their own.  You can find the plan here:

Electric Motors Catalyst Kits for Distance Learning: 25% Off

Over the past week, we’ve been contacted by a few different schools who are integrating the Electric Motors Catalyst kits into their distance learning plans. Many schools are looking for engaging activities that kids can do when they’re at home, connect with core curriculum, and also let students collaborate in online video meetings. We’re seeing that our kits are a good fit, so we want to do what we can to help schools meet this challenge.  Here’s what we’re doing:

  • DISCOUNT. Any school that would like to use our products in their distance learning plans can buy them at a 25% discount.  Use this discount code at checkout:
  • VOLUME PURCHASES. If you will need 100 kits or more, contact us.  We may be able to provide a higher discount.  Reach out to us at or call 415 237-1763.
  • SHIP TO STUDENTS. We can ship the kits to your school or directly to families, if your school has already closed.
  • CURRICULUM. We are currently putting the finishing touches on two detailed curriculum guides. We had planned to launch them later this spring, but given the urgency many schools are facing we’re sharing them now as PDFs for no charge.  The two books are:
    • Challenge Guide.  This provides details for 15 activities that can all be done with the Electric Motors Catalyst.  There are 5 “Getting Started” activities and 10 “Challenges.”  For each activity the guide includes:
      • Materials needed (not all of the activities require all the parts in the kit)
      • Teacher tips
      • Discussion starters
      • Detailed instructions with pictures
    • NGSS Curriculum Guide.  Provides full NGSS Curriculum Units for grades K-2 and 3-5 (sorry, we do not have the middle school curriculum done yet).  Each unit includes:
      • Performance Expectations
      • Unit Flow Diagram
      • Lesson Overviews
      • For each lesson:
        • Objective
        • Prerequisite Knowledge
        • Materials
        • Context
        • Detailed Lesson Plans
        • Assessment
    • See below for some sample pages from the guides.  If you are interested in using them, please contact us at


Sample Pages
(email us at if you want a digital copy)


Sample Pages
(email us at if you want a digital copy)

I wish all of you the best of luck as we navigate our way through this pandemic.  With creativity and resourcefulness we can keep our families and teams as safe as possible and also keep the learning alive for our students.




– Matt and the Tinkering Labs Team