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 Whether you have a fully equipped Maker Studio or are trying out Tinkering in the classroom for the first time, the Tinkering Labs Electric Motors Catalyst is a great way to bring hands-on learning to your students. Our goal is to help as many kids as possible develop their creative problem-solving abilities, and we’ve worked hard to create a kit that is effective, fun for students, and easy and affordable for teachers.

To make the Catalyst teacher-and classroom-friendly, we designed it for practicality and flexibility:

    • Effective across a wide age range: 6-17+
    • Excellent in large groups, small groups, or individually
  • No teacher training required
  • No computer, smart phone, or any other equipment required
  • Practical for many time frames:
    – Short (30 min) or long (1-2 hour) sessions
    – One-time experiences or multi-week projects

Tips for Group Tinkering Sessions

1. Arrange the space to make sharing ideas easy

A large circle or tables facing each other work well.

2. Large rolls of paper and some tape are helpful.

If you are going to include the markers, cover the work area and possibly the floor with paper.

3. Have students work in pairs or individually.

Groups of three can also work, but we’ve found pairs to be better.

4. Consider giving each team a parts container.

This helps teams keep their parts organized and makes cleanup easier later on.

5. Try distributing the parts over time.

We usually start by giving each team enough items for them to get a wheel spinning, as we show in the “Spinning Wheel” video.

6. Start with a challenge.

A big challenge can be intimidating or inspiring, but in any case it’s likely to be exciting.

7. Lend a hand, but try not to give instructions

You can always offer assistance, but try to let kids work out their own ideas without giving too much direction.

8-Week Tinkering Curriculum

Many educators have their students for one 45-minute period once a week.  If that’s you, here’s an example 8-week curriculum that can be executed in 8 single period sessions:

Session 1: Introduce a challenge; Simple circuit
Session 2: Short-circuit proof “Connection Platform”
Session 3: Rubber band attachments & angle brackets
Session 4: Build a machine that draws curvy lines
Session 5: Invent a tool that can cut a piece of paper
Session 6: Create something that moves in a straight line
Session 7: Invent a robot that moves without wheels
Session 8: Free invention