Young Americans Blog

Tinkering with MindSpark

By: Maura McInerney Published: September 2nd, 2013

Tinkering:  Attempting to repair or improve something in a casual hands-on way.

Synonyms: fiddle with, adjust, fix, try to mend, play about with, fool with, futz with; tamper with, interfere with, mess about with, meddle with.

Did you know Thomas Edison tried over 10,000 times to create the light bulb before he was actually successful? He came up with lots of other great ideas along the way, but his perseverance paid off with an invention that we all use today.  And according to Edison “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Tinkering away

We are here to encourage and facilitate that same ingenuity in our community’s youth at Young Americans.  We partnered up with MindSpark, a non-profit that stimulates imagination in youth came to Young Americans, to awaken the inventor and creator in the nineteen Young Entrepreneurs in our Tinkering class.

The class started out with a “Pep talk” from Kid President. If you haven’t seen him on YouTube yet, you really should check out his inspirational message.  Kid President just wants to know “What are you going to create to make the world awesome?”

A teamwork activity was next. Class participants were challenged to find a way to get untied from their partner. Successful communication, working together, and finding alternative solutions were the objectives in this lesson.

Partners had to communicate and be creative to untie themselves from each other.

Partners had to communicate and be creative to untie themselves from each other.

Next the youth made kaleidoscopes with cardboard tubes, mylar film, and plastic containers of beads and sequins. The class went even further to create robots with working LED lights.  Participants started with a piece of paper with a robot illustration, a LED light, a battery, and conductive electric paint to draw and complete a circuit. The conductive paint was used as both a liquid wire and a conductive adhesive.  The LED light became the heart of the robot and illuminated when the paper switch was pushed.

What’s next?

More Tinkering? Adding light and electricity to your existing product? Let us know in the comment section below what you want from us and we will make it happen!

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