The 'Think It Should Work' Test Station


Last week we spent some time working on the electricity boards activity in the Tinkering Studio. A big part of this activity is learning how to troubleshoot a circuit that seems like it should be working, since over time wires get broken, bulbs get burnt out, and batteries run out of juice. While this can sometimes be a frustrating experience, it also provides a chance for participants to go through a check list of possible issues and solve their problem as they would in real life. As a way to help both the visitors and the explainers facilitating the experience for the first time, Ryoko, Lianna and I thought that we would make a test station to help guide them through the process.

Like many ideas it started out with a sketched plan on lined paper.

We then grabbed extra circuit board parts and arranged them on the board with laser cut cardboard ovals standing in for labels. Along with the wire tester, bulb tester and volt meter, we dicided ot add a hint about how some parts need the current to flow in a specific direction and that not all batteries are created equal (we use AAs, AAA, and 9 volts).

With everything in the right place we attached the components and made wood labels

Then we put two dowels in the wall and hung the board next to the broken parts bin so it would be easily accessible during the activity.

We'll see how people use this new piece while exploring electricity boards. We're thinking about how to add other parts to help make the experience more satisfying and understandable while also allowing people to go in their own directions and solve their own problems.

Delightfully geeky ending to the video Luigi.

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