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California Tinkering Network

The California Tinkering Network provides professional development to informal educators working in afterschool programs serving children from high-poverty communities. The program combines practical and scholarly knowledge to support a professional vision and plan for how best to engage children in making and tinkering programs in afterschool settings. Our goal is to excite and engage children in active tinkering, and also to help them recognize the complex intellectual work that tinkering can involve, and, to open doors to their own possible futures, how it connects with disciplinary and professional fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The program consists of workshops focusing on (1) design of tinkering activities, (2) equity-oriented facilitation strategies and pedagogies, (3) design of environments that inspire and welcome participation, and (4) assessing children's learning through embedded formative as well as summative assessment strategies. The network is seeking to advance, understand and document the ways in which tinkering programs can support children's growing fluency and interest in engineering and other STEM practices. The network posts resources, activities, advocacy tools, and also supports travel and collaboration among participating sites.

Current participants in the network include: Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco, California STEM Learning Network, California Afterschool Network, Community Science Workshops of Fresno and Watsonville, Discovery Science Center, Exploratorium, SAM Academy, Techbridge, and Young Makers.

The California Tinkering Network was founded through funding by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.