Tales from the Tinkering Table, Part One: Variations on a Theme

Imaginations take flight at Project Zero Tinkering Table where a collection of paper airplanes are beginning to accrue.

Imaginations take flight at Project Zero Tinkering Table where a collection of paper airplanes are beginning to accrue.

I took some grief from a former teaching partner and avid tinkerer about the design and material choices for our Tinkering Table. “Ross,” he said, “where are the tools? Where is the heavy machinery?” This is a guy who rebuilds a vintage racing Porsche every spring for fun and whose idea of a weekend project is building a 12’ x 12’ shed from the ground up. Yes, tools are fantastic in a maker space, but as with any new endeavor—you need to consider audience and situation.

This week the Agency by Design team enticed Project Zero researchers and their affiliates to stretch beyond the realm of 2-D at our Tinkering Table.

This week the Agency by Design team enticed Project Zero researchers and their affiliates to stretch beyond the realm of 2-D at our Tinkering Table.

We designed the Project Zero Tinkering Table to work in the shared public space of our office. A band saw might be a bit loud for the adjoining meeting spaces. We made the choice to begin with a material that our audience is very comfortable with: paper. PZ researchers, our audience, are quite comfortable with several phases of the design process. There is a lot of brainstorming and prototyping that occurs naturally during our work. The thing is—this is almost exclusively done two dimensionally. So this week we made the shift to 3-D. We hope to use the tinkering space and materials to encourage exploration with three-dimensional prototyping.

Once we see a shift from 2-D to 3-D work habits around our offices, we’ll consider asking for a band saw—along with the appropriate hearing protection.

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About Jessica Ross

Jessica Ross is a senior practitioner specialist working at Project Zero on the Agency by Design Project. Jessica was a founding team member of the Global Learning Charter Public School, where she taught grade 5-8 humanities for ten years. A licensed principal, she has also served as Title I Director and English Department Chair. Jessica graduated from Hunter College with degrees in both elementary education and history and is currently completing a master’s degree in Professional Writing at UMass. Her passion for teaching was recognized in 2007 when she was voted Teacher of the Year by the Standard Times and Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts. Since 2006, Jessica has participated in and facilitated numerous Artful and Visible Thinking workshops in Costa Rica, Amsterdam, Cambridge, MA, Rochester, NY and several other locations throughout the U.S.; she is currently the Assistant Education Coordinator of the Project Zero Classroom Institute.

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