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Computational tinkering: making digital technology available to all

How do we make computational thinking practices and concepts engaging and relevant? Making and tinkering skills are crucial for the next generation to succeed in a digital world; even a basic understanding of these concepts is important for navigating the world of today and tomorrow. This panel offers participants the opportunity to explore the intersection of tinkering and computation in both the digital and analog realms. We will showcase playful programming experiences as well as computer-free computation.

These experiences will lead to deeper discussions about the role and potential of tinkering to make computational thinking concepts approachable, engaging and relevant for learners with different backgrounds and skill sets and it will give you strategies and tools to bring a computational tinkering approach to your own practice.


Tinkering Studio Project Specialist
San Francisco
United States

Session speakers

Head of Exhibition and Education
At the Swiss Science Center Technorama we have introduced digital elements to our tinkering activities in order to promote computational thinking and problem solving. For us it is however important that the focus of the activities remains on the social interaction and communication between the participants. Thus we prototyped activities where each visitor programs a digital artefact solving a subproblem of a greater challenge. In this session you will have the chance to realize your computational creativity in our latest iteration of this activity.
Katherine Ozawa
Experience Developer and Program Manager, Engineering Design
The Tech Interactive
San Jose
United States
Katherine Ozawa manages The Tech Studio, where she develops and prototypes experiences with a focus on engineering & design. The focus of her work is on creating ways for all learners to engage with challenging STEM concepts by tapping into the innate curiosity and problem solving skills that are present in everyone. Her recent work in this space is centered around screen-less explorations of computational thinking in the contexts of the museum floor and the family home.
Exhibition and Programs
Christof Börner is member of the curators team at the science center phaeno in Wolfsburg, Germany. Recently, he worked on a new exhibition about different aspects of digitilization and assisted the development of computational tinkering workshops. phaeno provides computational tinkering activities in an open workshop for the general public and a (time limited) workshop for school groups. In both workshops we focus on easy accessibile coding in combination with team-building creative activities. This aproach also helps to motivate and train our own staff. In this session you get to know a variation of our workshop for schools. These activities may also open the discussion for a gender-balancing aspect.
Founder, CEO We Are Play Lab Foundation
We Are Play Lab Foundation
Cristina Riesen is the initiator and lead of Project Square, an open education initiative using playful learning and participatory design to create engaging computational thinking learning experiences for K12 classrooms. Developed in close collaboration with educators, designers, entrepreneurs, experts and researchers from the leading Swiss scientific and education institutions, Project Square builds on frameworks from learning sciences, interaction design and computational thinking. It empowers kindergarten, primary and secondary school teachers and students to become competent in a digital world by understanding and practicing computational thinking in embodied and playful ways, in their everyday environment.