Tinkering Challenges

Type: News

Maker Challenges are an excellent way to challenge learners to think differently about the tools and materials we have in the makerspace. We host a variety of challenges from 30 minute competitions to 2 hour making sessions using the design thinking process. This week, we hosted a type of challenge that we refer to as a tinkering challenge.


Materials are placed on the makerspace work table with a sign stating two action statements. Action statements are meant to prompt students to jump in and do something (ex: “Build using these materials” or “Make something interactive”). Next to the sign, we place a prototype that we’ve made using the materials, which serves as a starting point for students who have a tough time figuring out where to start. Typically, the challenge is set up for the entire day but, we’ve noticed the most amount of tinkering takes place either during lunch times or before school starts.

For this week’s challenge, we wanted to introduce our students to our new Ozobots. The Ozobot is a small, R2D2-looking robot made by Evollve Inc. It has sensors on the bottom that allow it to detect lines as well as color. This allows students to draw a track for the Ozobot to follow using markers. Some color combinations have actions associated with them. For instance, if the Ozobot detects blue, then black, then blue it will increase its’ speed. The variety of commands allows students to construct interactions between the bots using a color code language.


We covered our makerspace work table with white paper, displayed a sign containing our action statements, and drew a black oval in the shape of a race track. The Ozobot instruction manual was laid out for reference to the different commands students could issue with color combinations. Students and teachers alike came to tinker. It wasn’t long before the paper was full of different shapes, color combinations, and one student’s quest to find the perfect method to make the bots run into one another. As lunch ended, students made plans to meet back in the makerspace to learn more about programming the Ozobots as they rushed off to class.

You can learn more about Ozobots by following this link.