Principles of Kit-based Learning (found at www.tinkeringschool.com)
Before setting out to create a science kit, we wrestled with how to create a kit that felt something like Tinkering School. Out of a series of conversations I boiled it down this manifesto (of sorts) that we would use to guide our decision-making and measure our results. You can see the work in progress on the first kit here.
Principles of Kit-based Learning
The goal of any kit must be to teach how to think about the principle concept - the understanding and internalization of the concept comes naturally from the process. Memorizing the gravitational constant is not as useful as grokking the notion of gravity and developing a personal understanding of mass (constant) and weight (varies depending on context).
1. Focus on the quality of the experience first
- like a story arc, plan for successes and setbacks
- all stages of the project should be engaging and driven forward by the participants
2. Allow for personal expression within the experience
- design variability into the project
3. Leave something to be discovered
- some questions unanswered
- some capabilities of the kit unexplained
- some implications unstated
4. Support failure, require tinkering to get it right
- allow for incorporation of external materials (but don’t require it)
- instructions should only get you close to a solution, how close depends on the target audience.
5. Focus on a concept, but connect it to the world and the sciences
- relate it to actual things in the world that the participants can identify and recognize
6. The experience should transition smoothly to tangential or subsequent topics
- consider the kit as a part of a larger experience
- avoid a hard definition of “complete” or “finished”