Our Latest MOOC - Motion & Mechanisms


Tinkering Fundamentals: Motion & Mechanisms

We're about to launch a new online Professional Development experiment! This new MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) is called Tinkering Fundamentals: Motion & Mechanisms. Its free to participate at Coursera. This is the second course we've produced and this time we've partnered with the Research + Practice Collaboratory and Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland, CA to bring you a five-week course built around three of our favorite motion-based activities: Marble Machines, Automata and Chain Reactions. The Collaboratory, led by Bronwyn Bevan at the University of Washington, conducted the field research and co-led, with Lighthouse, monthly meetings with after school teachers and Tinkering Studio staff to look together at the data we were collecting and our goals for student learning. The results are documented in a tool we’ll share in Week 5 called the Learning Dimensions Framework.

Our goal for the course is to introduce tinkering activities, but also go deeper into the pedagogical ideas behind them. We'll share our approach to designing activities, practicing facilitation, and setting up environments conducive to learning about science and art through tinkering. We'll be actively participating in the course along with you in the discussion forums and even offering impromptu hangouts from time to time.

We're thrilled to be able to introduce you to some of our intellectual, scientific, and artistic heroes; including Eleanor Duckworth and Hubert Dyasi. You'll get to hear from artists and scientists working directly with these ideas; folks like Arthur Ganson, Bernie Zubrowksi, and Carlos Zapata. And we'll hear reflections from our teacher collaborators who shared these activities in their after school programs. We've produced a collection of 19 short videos detailing the way we go about designing activities, from guiding principles to the “nuts and bolts”; we also developed detailed guides to go along with each of the activities, and some of our favorite readings.

We can't wait to begin and hope you'll join us!
Registration is open now.

Overdeck Family Foundation

This project was funded by generous support from Overdeck Family Foundation and the National Science Foundation.


I’m starting a Makerspace after school program in my school and I’m excited to learn more about tinkering!

That's terrific news. Where are you located?

We have a Community of Practice for Making & Tinkering through ASTC that you might be interested in joining.
You don't have to be associated with a museum to join, but you might want to see about partnering with a local museum in area.

Also MakerEd has a google community:

Also - check out our Fundamentals of Tinkering MOOCs through Coursera. They're free courses open to anyone with an interest in Tinkering and might be helpful with project ideas, but especially to develop a deeper understanding of learning through tinkering.

Hello, I am a teacher at Summit School in Winston-Salem, NC. We have just launched a tinkering studio time at our school. We are in the 2nd year and are just thrilled with how the kids run with their own marvelous ideas. I am looking for professional development opportunities and contacts with which to share ideas of how to keep our program rolling and growing. Are you going to host another "The Art of Tinkering" workshop in 2018? Do you have any current or future planned professional development in tinkering facilitation?
Thanks, Jennifer Sparnicht

Hello Jennifer!
Yes, we have a planned Art of Tinkering workshop March 13-15 2018. If you send me your email, or email me at, I can send you more information and a way to register!

Hi. I teach art to young children and am trying to make automata toys. I am interested learning more as this is new to me.

We hope you'll enjoy learning about automata - depending on the age of the children you're working with you can have them observe, draw, make and animate mechanical motion. Have you seen our latest automata-related activity called Cranky Contraptions?

Hi! I hace a question about the dates when the course is offered. In my work at a museum i can subscribe courses for capacitation, but im too near of the beginning date. Are there another date for the course? In coursera says that start on 12 feb, will be more dates when i could subscribe in the future?
Many thanks,

PS: sorry for my bad english.

Hi Nicolás ~

Both courses run continuously, with a new cohort starting approximately every 4 weeks. The course is free and you get unlimited access to the digital content. You can enroll in as many sessions as you'd like. I think you should still be able to start this session since we're only a few days in, but if not, registration for the next one should open up in a week or so.

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