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Why tinkering is important to understand STEM concepts, especially for girls?

“Women currently hold a disproportionately low share of STEM undergraduate degrees, particularly in engineering” [STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math]. Recent data seem to attribute this decline to the lack of adequate STEM education during Pre-K and Elementary school years. As a father of an elementary school child, my approach to teach STEM concepts to my daughter is through experimenting with tools, also called “Tinkering”.

What is Tinkering and how is it related to Experiential Learning?

Tinkering is learning by doing! It is the first step in the Experiential Learning continuum. Tinkering involves experimenting with tools to engage the curious mind to understand the mechanics and mysteries of how things work around you. Children by birth are natural tinkerers and engineers. When children tinker with things, they grow as learners, problem solvers, think out-of-the-box, and discover new uses to everyday objects around them. Today’s tinkerers are also tomorrow’s inventors and entrepreneurs. Several studies in the science of learning have shown that hands-on experimentation through trial and error, help elementary school children conceptualize ideas and enhance their understanding on how things work in greater depth.

How can Pumpus help inspire children to tinker?

Pumpus the pumpkin, who happens to be a smart geek and an inventor, inspires and encourages tinkering through his adventures in a STEM picture book series for elementary school children. In each story, Pumpus and his friends solve a problem from an invention perspective. For example, in “Pumpus Has A Flowing Idea!“, Pumpus and his friends plan on spending the night in their treehouse. But when they realize they forgot the batteries for the flashlight, Pumpus uses his book of great inventions to solve their problem using a dynamo and waterwheel to make electricity. Through science, mechanics, and safety, Pumpus saves the day!

Tinkering and early childhood STEM education – What it’s all about?

  • Children, by birth, are natural Tinkerers, Engineers, and Explorers.

  • Raising our children with the necessary tools to figure things out themselves will help them to become Tinkerers and Independent thinkers.

  • The next generation of Inventors—and Designers, and Entrepreneurs, and Scientists —may depend on it.

Praba is a children’s book author of a STE(A)M series for Pre-K and Elementary School Children. He uses creative illustrations to teach STEM concepts from an experiential learning perspective. His books have been recently reviewed by Midwest Reviews and have also been nominated as the “2016 Children’s Literary Contest Finalist” for the Pacific North West Association Award. Praba’s motivation to write stories for children, especially girls, is to inspire them to take STEM careers as women currently hold a disproportionately low share of STEM undergraduate degrees, particularly in engineering. He is an avid blogger and blogs on STEM and Experiential Learning. For more information, visit us at:

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