Skip to main content

Our Community Focus

Tinkers & Thinkers – STEM to the Extreme

Oct 01, 2018 07:08AM ● By Jennifer Neys

Tinkers and Thinkers, photo by Susan Wood Photography

Tinkers & Thinkers – STEM to the Extreme


Over 30 exhibitors and thousands of kids and families came out to Pleasant Hill Park for the annual Tinkers & Thinkers. Although it's only in its second year, one happy mom proclaimed: "We look forward to Tinkers and Thinkers every year. This is our favorite event." 


With a generous grant from the PH Community foundation, families made hundreds of dancing brushbots made from fingernail brushes, hobby motors, and 9-volt batteries. As children fastened the wires to close the circuit, eyes popped wide as the robot sputtered to life. "I made this!" exclaimed one boy. A third grade girl, curious if she could make her motor spin in the opposite direction, consulted her mother before declaring, "Nevermind! I'm going to experiment!"


Outdoors, drones took off over the giant pavilion tent, where visitors engineered bridges, catapults, and tinfoil boats. The Rotary Club featured classic technologies like rope making while running sewing machines and tie-dye baths for decorating canvas bags. Youth sported blinking bowties and binary code bracelets they created with the County Office of Education.


Indoors at the Teen Center, a colorful timeline of computer scientists was on display. Preschool and elementary aged youth learned the fundamentals of programming with Beebots, Cubelets, a Code-a-pillar, and Lego robotics at the library booth. At the same time, Valley View Middle School students and College Park's FalconX Robotics Club showed off their competition-ready droids.


It was wall-to-wall STEM, with tornado machines, smoke ring cannons, laser cut cardboard toys, masking tape sculptures, elephant toothpaste, and virtual reality demos. "We call Tinkers & Thinkers an innovation faire, but it's also an an inspiration faire, an education and exploration faire! It's like a fireworks display, with all these lights going off over people's heads. Everyone's learning something new, making something for the fun of it," said Patrick Remer, community library manager.


In a new attraction for the faire, the San Francisco-based maker collective Cyclecide brought in carnival rides made from recycled bikes. Kids fearlessly climbed up a pirate ladder to buckle into a pedal-powered Ferris wheel. Meanwhile, another line formed for the "dizzy toy" a two-person centrifuge. Further details about this event can be found at: