Building Up Steam: The 3M Tinkering Hub

tinkering hub scott family amazeum

Local Kids Enjoy Tinkering at the Hub

By Karen Rice

Official Kids Mag recently caught up with some local kids being creative at the 3M Tinkering Hub at the Scott Family Amazeum in Bentonville. I watched them cut, paint, melt and flatten cans, bottles, cups and food containers and put them together into a giant work of recycled art.

“We are making a sculpture,” 9-year-old 4H member Lilyan L. from Pea Ridge explained. “We get to paint, we get to hammer, we get to melt things and then decide where they go.” She proudly showed me where she added a googly eye and used Styrofoam egg cartons for grass on a large wooden form.

“I smashed this with a hammer,” she said about a flattened plastic water bottle. “Shannon (an older 4H mentor) melted it.”

The family museum features interactive exhibits in science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM). And the 3M Tinkering Hub is a place for kids ages seven years old and up to be inspired, explore new ideas, get hands-on and create awesome things.

The Hub is kind of like a big STEAM playground. It’s a large workspace with fun materials, objects, images and projects to explore.

It’s a place that’s sure to inspire the next generation of inventors and innovators.

Lilyan corrected me when I referred to the material she was using as trash, saying “it’s not trash, it’s recycling.”

Eight-year-old Quinn P. of Bentonville also added to the sculpture. He visits the Amazeum every weekend and told me he finds something new to see and do every time he’s there.

“I never get bored here,” he said.

Thinking—while  tinkering—about ways to recycle and reuse items was part of the learning that was happening that day at the Hub.

Ray Weatherford, who has been working at the Amazeum for two years, said it’s rewarding being able to share all things STEAM with kids at the 3M Tinkering Hub. Ray’s dad is an engineer who taught him how to use tools and let him help out at lot. Now, he passes his love of making things to future generations.

“It’s a lot of fun to teach kids how to work with their hands,” he said. “We’re making new activities all the time. We recently did weaving. We’ve done circuits.”

Ray loves seeing kids learning when they are tinkering.

“Anytime I see a kid with that aha moment like ‘I made this thing’ or ‘I learned something brand new and I didn’t think it would work like this,’ it’s super cool,” he explained.

4H teen leaders Shannon and Jacob were helping out the younger kids with the project that day. For them, this was just one of the many experiences they get to have in 4H.

Shannon, who is 14, told me the opportunities in 4H are “amazing,” from being a role model for younger kids, to learning how to conduct yourself in interviews and talk to adults. Jacob, 17, who has been in 4H for 10 years agreed, and said 4H has also helped increase his leadership and public speaking skills.

“Some people think 4H is just for younger kids but as you get older there are more opportunities,” he said. “It has instilled a strong work ethic in me.”

Both Jacob and Shannon said that 4H has taught them the value of volunteering and community service.

“4H helps you know what you are capable of,” Jacob added.

At the Amazeum that day, kids learned they were capable of creating something awesome with things other people might just throw away.

Follow this link to find more fun activities!

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