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Research on Productive Tinkering in an Arduino Environment
American Association of Physics Teachers (2014)
  • Gina M. Quan, University of Maryland at College Park
  • Ayush Gupta, University of Maryland, Baltimore
In the engineering design process as taught in middle/high school classrooms, systematic planning is often valued over tinkering, a process that shortcuts that kind of analytical thinking. We argue that tinkering could be productive for students' learning. We piloted a project-based instructional module using Arduino Rovers (Arduino integrated programmable robot-tanks) in Summer Girls, a summer camp for high school students hosted by University of Maryland Physics Department. Throughout the two-week program, participants worked in pairs through several open-ended tasks before designing and completing a final project. Using classroom video data of student-pairs working on the design tasks, we contrast ad-hoc tinkering with planned, deliberate sense-making. We argue that tinkering is a productive practice for project-based learning, contributing to practical success on task and supporting students in learning content. We suggest that instructors of design tasks should consider ways to recognize students' tinkering practices and support them in tinkering productively.

Publication Date
Summer July, 2014
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Citation Information
Gina M. Quan and Ayush Gupta. "Research on Productive Tinkering in an Arduino Environment" American Association of Physics Teachers (2014)
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