New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

“Officina degli Errori”: A Tinkering Experience in an Informal Environment

Sara Ricciardi, INAF - OAS (Italy)

Fabrizio Villa, INAF - OAS (Italy)

Stefano Rini, IC12 (Italy)

Matteo Boni, IC12 (Italy)

Sara Venturi, INAF - OAS (Italy)

Annalisa Bugini, Museo del Patrimonio Industiale (Italy)

Miriam Masini, Museo del Patrimonio Industiale (Italy)


Since 2012 we have been working together with teachers of our local community (mostly primary school) to design, promote and deliver hands-on, self-directed and playful activities to engage children with STEM. One of our most powerful method is the tinkering. Tinkering is a holistic way to engage people with STEM disciplines mixing them with Art, contaminating hi-tech material with low-tech and recycled material. Knowledge is not simply transmitted from teacher to learner, but actively constructed by the mind (and the hands) of the learner. Constructionism (Papert 1980) suggested that learners are more likely to develop new insights and understandings while actively engaged in making an external artifact. This method supports the construction of knowledge within the context of building personally meaningful artifacts, and the more self-directed the work is the more meaningful the learning becomes. From 2014 we proposed to the pupils of our local community several workshops tailoring the activities originally developed by the Tinkering Studio –Exploratorium – San Francisco. Recently we tried to tackle this aspect with our first attempt to bring the tinkering closer to the field of our interest and expertise, astrophysics and astronomical observation with the LUNATARIO. Our labs are mature and ready to be brought in a larger arena. For this reasons in the past months (Oct-Dec 2017), we brought the tinkering at the Museo del Patrimonio Industriale with “Officina degli Errori” a set of 4 tinkering activities in this informal environment.  We engaged a group of 20 kids, from 6 to 12 yrs old, during 4 workshops held on Saturday afternoon in the conference area of the museum. We expect this successful test will open a new branch of activities in this civic museum that is already offering lessons and experiences to the pupils in the Bologna area (990 classes last year). Those experiences are democratically free of charge. Our idea is to offer to those classes a tinkering lab coupled with training for teachers and hopefully some guiding in the preparation and acquisition of the materials. We hope those labs will grow in each class that visited the museum so that the tinkering will be a useful instrument of learning for each student of our local community.

Keywords: Best Practices in Public Engagement  & Outreach, Inclusion, Diversity, hands-on, STEM;


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