Thanks to new technology (we're looking at you, Apple!)
and packed extracurricular schedules, the art of tinkering has gone
the way of the dinosaur. We're so focused on getting things done
that we don't take things apart purely out of curiosity or try to
build better versions of useful everyday items.
A new permanent exhibit at
Chicago Children's Museum puts the spotlight back on playing
around. Aptly named
The Tinkering Lab, the airy, industrial room encourages kids to
build from their imaginations and to understand how things are
The Lab targets tweens 9-13 with the opportunity to use
real tools (including power tools at the supervised "Tool Bar") in
order to take things apart and put them together. The goal is for
kids to ask questions and play with their ideas, sometimes failing,
but always learning from their mistakes.
Little ones are welcome to don safety goggles and wield a
real hammer, although their attention may be best kept by the Early
Learning Nook, an alcove designed for babies, toddlers and
preschoolers. They'll get their own taste of tinkering thanks to
interactive wall panels, touchable tools and objects that make fun
Trained staff members are on hand to demonstrate what's
going on inside items we use all the time, whether vacuum cleaners
or children's toys.
So put down that iPad or jam-packed day planner-it's
Elizabeth Diffin is the senior editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.
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