The b(ack)log

Learning by playing and tinkering

I joined the session from Learning Creative Learning (LCL) today about playing and learning. During the breakout we were prompted to relate an experience about tinkering with physical objects and tinkering with technology.

Two examples sprang to mind. The first one is physical - when I was young +-10, I used to take any broken thing apart. And sometimes I took unbroken things apart :) I was mostly after motors, magnets, switches & wires. I remember creating my own version of cricket. You would roll a marble down a cardboard ramp and then the other player would try to hit it with a washing pegg that was glued to a motor by flipping a switch.

The other example is about tinkering with technology. A friend and I came across a game called Ganja Farmer. We figured out that all the game assets were stored as normal bitmaps in one of the subfolders of the game. We took it upon ourselves to transform the “defend the ganja” game into “defend your pills”. We called it Pill-o-Rama. Maybe not the most constructive theme, but we had fun doing it and we we’re very proud of our creation!

This was something that came natural and we didn’t specifically do it to learn. I can probably think up a few things that I learned from that, but it will be reversed engineered.

I have two thoughts about this:

One - as in the case of “Ganja Farmer”, there are ways in which to create things that invite play. I don’t know how we discovered it or who told us that we could modify the game, but because the game used normal images, files and folders, we could tinker!

Two - what needs to be present during a tinkering experience to transform having fun into a truly powerful learning experience? I ask this because I only realized last year why the motor that I salvaged from a gramophone player didn’t work when I connected it to batteries!