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← Life lessons through tinkering

Gever Tulley uses engaging photos and footage to demonstrate the valuable lessons kids learn at his Tinkering School. When given tools, materials and guidance, these young imaginations run wild and creative problem-solving takes over to build unique boats, bridges and even a rollercoaster!

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Showing Revision 2 created 07/31/2013 by TED.

  1. This is the exact moment
  2. that I started creating something called Tinkering School.
  3. Tinkering School is a place where kids can pick up sticks

  4. and hammers and other dangerous objects,
  5. and be trusted.
  6. Trusted not to hurt themselves,
  7. and trusted not to hurt others.
  8. Tinkering School doesn't follow a set curriculum,
  9. and there are no tests.
  10. We're not trying to teach anybody any specific thing.
  11. When the kids arrive

  12. they're confronted with lots of stuff:
  13. wood and nails and rope and wheels,
  14. and lots of tools, real tools.
  15. It's a six-day immersive experience for the kids.
  16. And within that context, we can offer the kids time --
  17. something that seems in short supply
  18. in their over-scheduled lives.
  19. Our goal is to ensure that they leave
  20. with a better sense of how to make things
  21. than when they arrived,
  22. and the deep internal realization
  23. that you can figure things out by fooling around.
  24. Nothing ever turns out as planned ... ever.

  25. (Laughter)
  26. And the kids soon learn
  27. that all projects go awry --
  28. (Laughter)
  29. and become at ease with the idea that every step
  30. in a project is a step closer
  31. to sweet success,
  32. or gleeful calamity.
  33. We start from doodles and sketches.
  34. And sometimes we make real plans.
  35. And sometimes we just start building.
  36. Building is at the heart of the experience:
  37. hands on, deeply immersed
  38. and fully committed to the problem at hand.
  39. Robin and I, acting as collaborators,
  40. keep the landscape of the projects
  41. tilted towards completion.
  42. Success is in the doing,
  43. and failures are celebrated and analyzed.
  44. Problems become puzzles
  45. and obstacles disappear.
  46. When faced with particularly difficult

  47. setbacks or complexities,
  48. a really interesting behavior emerges: decoration.
  49. (Laughter)
  50. Decoration of the unfinished project
  51. is a kind of conceptual incubation.
  52. From these interludes come deep insights
  53. and amazing new approaches to solving the problems
  54. that had them frustrated just moments before.
  55. All materials are available for use.

  56. Even those mundane, hateful, plastic grocery bags
  57. can become a bridge
  58. stronger than anyone imagined.
  59. And the things that they build
  60. amaze even themselves.
  61. Video: Three, two, one, go!

  62. Gever Tulley: A rollercoaster built by seven-year-olds.

  63. Video: Yay!

  64. (Applause)
  65. GT: Thank you. It's been a great pleasure.

  66. (Applause)