The Museum of Discovery will host the first TinkerFest Saturday, August 4, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, an Arkansas Discovery Network event. As a member of the six-museum statewide consortium, the museum will showcase local makers and inventors and allow the public to create unique things made from ordinary objects.
Tinkering is free-form experimentation with use of screwdrivers, motors, wires, glue, and more. People can spend hours creating and building. Tinkering allows them to slow down and immerse themselves in a workshop environment.
TinkerFest will feature inventors and artisans from central Arkansas. Nearly 30 work stations will be set up both in- and outside the museum. Visitors will have the opportunity to construct elegant and delicious geometric shapes with gum balls and bamboo skewers; make one-of-a-kind jewelry from junk; take apart appliances and computers to actually see how they were designed and how they operated; repair recycled bicycles; make fun accessories, purses and wallets with duct tape; see a three-dimensional printer in action; disassemble a vehicle, and much more.
“Some of the best inventions have started as tinkering projects. It’s what has helped shape our nation,” said Joel Gordon, visitor experience director for the museum. A tinkerer at heart, Gordon manages the museum’s Tinkering Studio conducting workshops and encouraging imaginative creation. “For example, when the United States battled the Soviet Union for space exploration supremacy during the great ‘space race,’ people literally went into their garages and warehouses and started tinkering and creating. Innovation was the end result. People invented thermal gear, freeze-dried food, microwave ovens, hair dryers and the list goes on. It’s how the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) got its beginning.”
“Another big tinkering explosion was the integrated circuit board. That one invention has led to the creation of computers, MP3 players and other advancements. And, who were these tinkerers? Future engineers, scientists, mathematicians and teachers. We need another space race, and people are starting to realize the time is now,” he stressed.
One can build just about anything from materials lying around the house, from flying objects to intricate circuit boards. Even movie-making can be considered tinkering. It is the use of imagination, ingenuity and hands-on creativity. The increased popularity of do-it-yourself shows, online tutorials, videos and books has spurred a renewed interest in tinkering.
TinkerFest sponsors are Kroger, FTN Associates, Ltd., Regional Recycling and Waste Reduction District, and Spectra Energy.
Museum partners from around the country, including The Exploratorium in San Francisco, San Diego’s Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History will participate in Saturday’s TinkerFest event. All three have strong working relationships with the Museum of Discovery and the Arkansas Discovery Network.
The Donald W. Reynolds Science Center at the Museum of Discovery’s mission is to ignite a passion for science, technology and math in a dynamic, interactive environment.
About Arkansas Discovery Network
The Arkansas Discovery Network, an innovative network of museums across the state, has received more than $10 million in funding from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation since 2006. The network strives to make hands-on, interactive museum experiences more accessible to the state’s schoolchildren and their families, especially those in rural areas. Partner museums include the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock, Mid America Science Museum in Hot Springs, Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas in Pine Bluff, Texarkana Museums System in Texarkana, Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources in Smackover and Arkansas State University Museum in Jonesboro.