What are Tinker Kits?

Tinker Kits are the ideal way to foster data and digital literacy skills in your students. They’re available for loan by any UTS student or academic from the library. You borrow them just like you would a book – making them easy to incorporate into your teaching. Grab a set of them, check out the library website for some ideas we’ve put together, and off you go! You can also work with a librarian to tailor something a little more targeted to learning outcomes.

For example, you could;

  • Design an experiment using the Pocketlab Voyager, an all-in-one sensor that syncs up to an iPad. Use a plastic bag to create barometric pressure variations, or take the temperature rod around a room, easily tracking and transforming the data in real time.
  • Use the Sphero kits to demonstrate the basics of computational thinking. Students can throw these mini-robots to each other, code it to light up when it’s caught, or use the drawing tool to make them roll around on the floor.
  • Get your students to overcome challenges in circuitry and code with the Makey-Makey The library has run sessions where students and academics make their own noisy monsters using this kit with aluminium foil, copper tape and MIT’s Scratch web application.
  • Harness digital landscapes using VR handsets; students use their mobile phones to download apps, making it easy to implement in all sorts of classrooms.

Why would I use them?

They’re very engaging. Students work together in pairs or small groups, putting things together by hand. Instead of listening and making notes, they’re learning by doing.

They’re simple. Tinker Kits break down complex bodies of knowledge, such as coding, circuitry, data collection, data analysis – demonstrating the principles in very basic ways.

They’re tools for encouraging computational thinking and problem solving, which are increasingly required in workplaces of every kind now and in the future. In the words of the UTS strategic plan, Tinker Kits like these are one small part of many that encourage future-focused graduate capabilities.

What kits are available?

  • 360 degree cameras: attach to mobile phones for full 360 degree photo and video.
  • Arduino: an open-source platform used for building electronics projects.
  • littleBits: click together circuitry that allow you to learn about electronics while building and protoyping.
  • Makey Makey: a tool that lets you control your computer with anything you want – just as long as it conducts electricity.
  • Pocketlab Voyager: an all-in-one portable science lab that can measure motion, light, magnetic fields, weather and temperature.
  • Sphero: a simple robot you can program with your smartphone or tablet.
  • Virtual Reality: learn in new ways by experiencing a learning environment. For example: explore inside the human body, walk around a 3D model, experience the daily life of others, history, culture, etc.

How do I get them?

Visit the UTS Library website or google ‘UTS Library Tinker Kits’ to get a full list with explanation, tutorials and examples. Academics can borrow Tinker Kits through the library catalogue or contact a librarian to arrange bookings. Loans are usually one week.

This post is adapted from a presentation for the LX.lab Technology Showcase, part of the 2018 Casual Academics Conference. Check out more resources from the Technology Showcase here.

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