Time to Tinker- Learning2Europe Warsaw

<Creating the Conditions for Invention>

I’ve been fortunate to participate in this year’s Learning2 Europe, hosted in Warsaw at the American School. Presenting a workshop together with inspirational Sarah Woods entitled ‘Maker you Own Learning’.

A freeflow tinkering space located in the school library.

This day long, hands on workshop was themed around ‘Hack your Conference Badge’ and designed to set the stage for invention building upon pre-preconference provocations


Three interconnected areas gave enthusiastic conference tinkerers the space to build ideas, tackle frustrations and create an artifact.

DIY Activist Art- LED Badge Hack- Micro Electronic Interactions

When time was up there was no sign of dissipating eagerness as conversations and making continued. During the main conference our library MakerSpace remained open providing a time to tinker and jam together at a MakersJam.


When time was up there was no sign of dissipating eagerness as conversations and making continued. During the main conference our library MakerSpace remained open providing a time to tinker and jam together at a MakersJam.

In this blog post, I’d like to share my free flow thoughts, ideas, resources and provocations, in particular the notion of valuing play, tinkering in the classroom, staffroom and in the field. All the Learning2 MakerSpace tinkering stations were born out of playing around with ideas, prototyping, reiterating and pretty much, in the words of Elizabeth Perry,

‘if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly…alot’

What’s in my Bag…

Here are the contents of my travelling makers bag (minus longboard). I’ve added links below to resources. IMG_9471

DIY Activist Art

Stencils- laser cut Oiled Manilla Stencil Card– A thick, durable and water resistant card dipped in linseed oil. Part of a 9th grade graffiti poster design project. We chose a Learning2 colour palette which worked a treat on brown parcel paper and cardboard packing boxes.


Prints were made on boxes, arms, hands, t-shirts computer covers, phone cases and conference badges. We were even tasked with printing the un-conference sign up posters.


Warsaw paste up #graffiti #streetart SCSzyman #Scandalist

We made a intriguing connection with Gilly Boelman-Burrows and WAWA.BLABLA. Gilly captures Warsaw street art. Post thought- Stencilling onto brown paper bags as an artifact take away!

LED Badge Hack (a spinning drawing machine)


LED Stickers– templates, copper tape and stickers from Jie Qi, I bought mine from Pimoroni. Together with a bargain pack of colourful LEDS and my favorite, diffused RGB (tricolor) LED from Adafruit. Conference goers created a range of hacks from robot hearts to thematic Polish traffic lights. The spinning drawing machine was upcycled from the cooling fan of an old computer.

Micro Electronic Interactions

Makey Makey/ Makey Makey Go– an invention kit and absolute must for any MakerSpace/Library- works brilliantly with Scratch.


whether you’re a musician creating new sound interactions, investigating sensors to transform your next project or exploring music and electronics for the first time

TRON Hoodie – an Adafruit project made with EL Wire

Sparkling Conference badge/Skateboard Hack – a remix of a Sparkling Skirt project and Skateboard upgrade – on my return I added this Flora board with lights to a Beetle Blocks 3D print and stuck it my longboard for some cool nighttime riding.

C80cm9YXUAABBqRStuff– other essentials for the maker kitbag include masking tape, gaffer tape, googly eyes, insulation tape, recycled keyboard keys, paint rollers, aluminium foil, parcel paper, felt tips…

Click the image below for full album.

Learning2Europe 2017

Documenting the process through recipe creation.

Our team of tinkerers were encouraged to capture the creative process in the form of a recipe – mini ‘instructables’ for other participants written or drawn onto the graffiti table.

<Adult play and valuing tinkering>

On my journey back home surfing through transit, I discovered the article below written by founder of the Exploratorium, Frank Oppenheimer. In his essay he discusses the relationship between perceived work and play which resonated immediately with our ‘Maker Your Own Learning’ workshop. A workshop made from ideas grown from playing with ideas.

Do we as educators value play both for our students and in our craft?

How often are you given the freedom and time to tinker with ideas?

Luckily Learning2 values this time and space to deepen understanding and tinker with ideas as part of the conference experience. Together with dynamic curation of workshops, and extended sessions delivered by students and teachers there is plenty of opportunity to make these deeper connections. Is it work or play? Or as the essay suggests, ‘if people get paid for playing, does it then become work?

‘…many Exploratorium exhibits have been born of play and have been built so that they can be playful for the people who come here. But even in this enterprise, I’ve noticed that as the staff gets larger and as the institution grows older, it becomes more and more difficult to get people to be playful’

Click the image to read full article


Sarah and I certainly had lots of fun interacting and learning alongside conference goers and fellow Learning2 leaders, from spontaneous stage spots to un-conference free flow making.C835ZeuXgAEoo8_

Thank you to the Learning2 team and everyone who joined us and I look forward to tinkering (working;) with you again in the near future as shillinCH transforms into shillOntheroad.

If you are interested in a Maker inResidence and Maker KitBags for your school or discussing an of the above further, please get in contact @markshillitoe or markshillitoe@gmail.com



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