Art of Tinkering MOOC – ScribbleBots #TinkeringMOOC

In week three of the Coursera-Exploratorium Art of Tinkering MOOC, I made my first ScribbleBot. A hobby motor, some kind of base, markers, and a battery combine to make visible the motion of a motored object.

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WEEKLY ACTIVITY: Make a few scribbling machines of your own, using our video and Activity Guide [link removed]. Try different materials, personalize your machine, and experiment freely! Then post your photos (and videos!) in this week’s forum [link removed] and tag them #tinkeringmooc on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so they appear on our social media wall. We can’t wait to see all the variations you come up with!

Making the ScribbleBot was very fun and easy – to get started with a first iteration. And the real fun and learning increased when I began to play with the variables of the bot to see what effects the alterations would have. As my sons joined me in my investigation and iterations, they began to make hypotheses about what would happen if they used different materials and designs for the bot.

REFLECTION QUESTION: Based on your experience in the class so far, which learning dimensions and indicators from the framework [link removed] are easy to see, and which are harder to pinpoint or recognize? Share your thoughts in the discussion forum [link removed].

So, I am removing the links from the Coursera weekly prompts because they lead to information behind the Coursera portal. However, the Learning Dimensions tool is Google-able, and there is a nice, short piece about the instrument on Lego Engineering.

During my time in the class so far, I think the following dimensions are easier to see:

  • Engagement – Spending time in Tinkering activities; Displaying motivation or investment through affect or behavior
  • Initiative and Intentionality – Persisting to achieve goals in the problem space
  • Social Scaffolding – Requesting or offering help in solving problems; Inspiring new ideas or approaches; Physically connecting to others’ works
  • Development of Understanding – Expressing a realization through affect or utterances; Offering explanation(s) for a strategy, tool or outcome; Striving to understand

For me, the more challenging dimensions to observe and notice explicitly are:

  • Initiative and Intentionality – Setting one’s own goals; Seeking and responding to feedback (environmental); Taking intellectual risks or showing intellectual courage [unless person is self-talking or sharing aloud among the community of tinkerers]
  • Development of Understanding – Applying knowledge

I actually think it’s fabulous how many of these (which are more fully understood when looking at the “descriptors” on the tool) are directly observable. When the learning dimensions are observable, I think the ability to provide growth-mindset coaching and questioning and encouragement strengthens for the facilitator.

TINKERING JOURNAL PROMPT: Record your response to this week’s reflection question, as well as two or three different responses from the discussion forum in your design journal. In what ways are the responses helpful to your educational practice?

[Posted directly to Coursera discussion.]

And I loved this video lesson from Dr. Edith Ackermann, who I was able to meet at the New York Association of Independent Schools Annual Conference for Assistant Heads, where she and I both presented/facilitated.

“Play is children’s most serious work.”

“Playfulness is a counterpoint to curiosity.”

“Playfulness is about allowing yourself to leap…as if when you knew that when you do that you come to see things anew.”

“In playful environment you feel safe enough to explore ideas that would otherwise be risky.”

Dr. Ackermann’s description of the importance of the eye also significantly resonates with me and all that I am working on relative to curiosity and observation journals…connected with the Tim Brown idea that “Innovation begins with an eye.” That it’s not merely simple trial and error, but it is something more sophisticated, rooted in advanced observation of the eye to gather feedback and apply that learning to enhanced iterations.


On Tuesday, I will open a meeting with division heads and heads of learning and innovation by facilitating creation of ScribbleBots. I plan to come back later to this post and add images/notes from that experience.



Art of Tinkering MOOC – Circuits #TinkeringMOOC (Tinkering Journal Post #1, August 22, 2015.)

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