Conversational reflections about tinkering experiences in a children's museum

Lauren C. Pagano, Catherine A. Haden, David H. Uttal, Tsivia Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


We examined the conversational reflections of 248 families with 6–11-year-old children shortly after they visited a tinkering exhibit. Our aim was to understand the conditions of tinkering and conversational reflection that can enhance STEM learning opportunities for young children. Some families visited the exhibit when there was a design challenge and others when there was not. Some families chose to leave the exhibit with their creations, and, therefore, had them with them during the conversational reflection, and others did not. Children who participated in the design challenge, and had their tinkering creation present during the reminiscing, answered a greater percentage of adults’ elaborative open-ended questions. Children also elaborated more if they visited the exhibit when there was a design challenge compared with those who did not. Children and adults made more elaborative statements if they had their tinkering creation with them than if they did not. Families with their tinkering creations talked most about engineering and the value of tinkering, and those who participated in the design challenge talked the most about engineering practices, and least about tools. We discuss implications for the design of tinkering and reflection activities that can both reveal and advance STEM learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1493-1512
Number of pages20
JournalScience Education
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


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