Discovery describes the short-term and low-structure quadrant of our Maker Learning Matrix.
It is defined by low or non-directive creative tinkering sessions that can lead to vital “A ha!” moments or, just as importantly, simple moments that lead to more tinkering.
Tinkering is a way to mix existing personal experiences with unfamiliar stimuli – tools, materials, processes, software, thoughts or ideas. There may be some guiding principles that constrain the inputs or provide an overarching concept, but the goal is to explore new connections between previously unrelated things.
These connections may lead to a special engagement that builds actual tension between what was previously known, what was discovered, and what new understanding is required to make sense of the discovery. Thus allowing one to apply this new knowledge to a new and unique application. These learning moments create the vital and powerful learning environment in which the result is that ever-important question, “Why?”
On a very practical level, tinkering is also a great way to introduce newcomers to a maker environment while establishing best practices, familiarity and respect for the boundaries of the space, the tools & materials, and the culture of a given venue. More on that at another time…