Real Tools. Real Learning.

In the Tinkering Garage, explore how science, art and technology collide. This exhibit puts the “fun” in science fundamentals. See where your creativity takes you as you design, create, invent and experiment in this all-ages, hands-on workshop. How high can you stack a tower of cups? Build a marble run on the peg wall, or build your own racecar. The only limit is your imagination!

Cool Stuff

Visit Air-Head, a whirling tube of wind, to see aerodynamics at work. Construct a paper craft, then put your engineering skills to the test and your invention takes flight. Does an object shaped like a propeller fly better that one that is tube-shaped?

What you'll learn

Tinkering, the process of adapting, changing or adjusting in hopes of making improvements, is not a new concept. Some of the greatest thinkers and inventors in history got their start tinkering. Where would we be today without Leonardo da Vinci’s sketches and inventions or Wilbur and Orville Wright’s experimentation in engineering and aerodynamics? Many of our inventions, innovations and technological advancements are a result of tinkering.

Free play involving stacking blocks, building with Legos and spinning tops are all forms of tinkering. In fact, it has been proven that tinkering with toys actually helps with development through childhood, especially in the areas of science and math. There is a common misconception that sex ultimately determines aptitudes towards certain educational subjects. For instance, boys are better at math and science while girls excel at creative writing and languages. In actuality, the toys a child plays with during their developmental years has a profound effect on their skills and strengths later in life. 

Ask a Question:

What makes the fastest Lego race car?


I can make several different kinds of cars. Cars with four wheels, cars with six wheels, shorter cars, longer cars, heavier cars and lighter ones. How hard I push the car and the length of the ramp are factors in the speed of my car, too.


A short, 6-wheeled Lego car will race faster than a tall, 4-wheeled one.


Find a friend and have several races to see which car wins most often!


Was the 6-wheeled Lego car really the fastest? If not, which car won the most?


Hey, Dad! I bet my car is faster than yours!

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that all children need free, undirected play for creative growth, self-reflection, and decompression. The freedom to invent and discover creates independent thinkers. Through an innate sense of reasoning and going through the scientific process naturally and unprovoked, kids learn the process of problem solving on their own. Left to their own devices, they will develop the confidence to imagine and create something unique. It has been proven that tinkering with toys like blocks and and Legos actually helps with the development that allows kids to succeed in math and sciences later in life. It has often been thought that boys are better at math and sciences and girls are better at creative writing and languages. We now know that success in those areas is not based on sex, but rather is directly related to the toys that a child plays with in their developmental years. Participating in this powerful learning experience, adults might even recapture some of the creativity and innovation that once drew them to explore.

Did you know

As far back as 427 B.C., the Greek philosopher and mathematician Plato said that you could discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, all children need free, undirected play for creative growth, self-reflection and decompression. During free play, children have the time and freedom to create while developing critical reasoning, independent thinking and problem solving skills.