Cool Stuff

Legos! Peg wall! Bumpity blocks! Hands-on projects inside this garage make science fundamental. See how high a tower of cups can be before it comes crashing down. How many Legos does it take to stretch from point A to point B? Float objects high overhead in an air-filled tube—Air Heads to Speed Racers, there’s something for everyone in this workshop! Colorful and playful, Tinkering Garage encourages kids of all ages to build, create, experiment, and design.

What You’ll Learn

There is a whole world of history behind the advanced aerodynamics and engineering we see everyday—helicopters and airplane travel, even the use of the barometer date back to the 1600s and Pascal, whose inventions included the hydraulic press and the syringe. The scientific method is well-established through centuries of experimentation. But go further back to 427 BC. Plato said that you could discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. That sounds good to us.

Open-ended play is gradually being replaced by the abundance of video games and other technology. Playtime seems like an old-fashioned luxury in today’s hectic schedules. However, a closer look at those good old days reveals amazing discovery, new invention, and technological advancement—and the geniuses behind them. In fact, there is a school of thought that scientific discovery depends on the innovative thinking that is encouraged by open-ended play.

At Tinkering Garage, the scientific method is played out naturally in the fields of physical science, engineering, and math:

Ask a Question:

What makes the fastest Lego racecar?

Research:

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.

Hypothesize:

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

Experiment:

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

Analyze/Conclude:

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

Communicate:

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 necessarily based on sex, but rather it 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.

Featured Fun: The Wind Tube

In Tinkering Garage, kids can experiment with aerodynamics and engineering as they fashion paper crafts to take flight in the ever entertaining wind tube area. Here kids learn how the shape of an object effects the way that wind or air interacts with it to determine how well it flies. Does an object shaped like the propellers of a helicopter fly better than one shaped like a tube? This can only be discovered through the endless possibilities of experimentation and tinkering. We never would have gotten off of the ground if the Wright brothers hadn’t used their imaginations to capture the idea of flight!