Our future is rapidly changing. If our children are not taught to become innovative thinkers and problem solvers today, how will they identify or  create solutions to  problems that we don’t even know are problems yet in the future? ..... Jean Kaneko, Founder The Exploratory

In an October 2014 article in Wired magazine titled American Schools are Training Students for a World that Doesn’t Exist, the author issued a provocative statement: Our kids learn within a system of education devised for a world that increasingly does not exist.

David Edwards, author of the article and a Harvard professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, reinforces the notion that our global world is a dynamic one. From food resources to climate change to microbiological threats to human cultural patterns, the world is host to a variety of massive, monumental challenges, challenges that will rest on the shoulders of our current youth to solve. What is absent from far too many schools is the process of discovery, creativity, and iterative, problem solving. Students should not only be exposed to the process of innovative thinking; they will need to be immersed in it in order to be ready and prepared for the 21st century that awaits them.

Since President Obama's 2009 Educate To Innovate Initiative call to action,  The Exploratory has reached over 5000 students in Los Angeles through its STEAM programming in after school, in-school, event, camps and workshops. We have provided Professional Development workshops sponsored by corporations and foundations like the Pearson Foundation, created the Tinkering & Making Toolkit for Project Mash, run workshops for hundreds of young Angelenos through the Los Angeles Public Library and consulted with many schools in building of STEM/Innovation Labs.  

Through this work, we have heard the call for action by educators and librarians. They have shared with us their desire to incorporate 21st century skill development into their learning environments. They want to include more hands on learning, connecting the problems they discuss in their classrooms to those in the real world. The teachers want to engage their students to want to learn.  They recognize that STEAM learning through Tinker.Make.Innovate. will make that happen. 

The Tinker.Make.Innovate. Challenge & Showcase

The Exploratory: Maker Guilds has created a learning opportunity to propel Los Angeles educators in schools, libraries and other youth-serving organizations on the path to making L.A. the leading hub of learning strategies. The Tinker.Make.Innovate Challenge & Showcase aims to help educators overcome the barriers of learning new technologies and electronics, and to become confident facilitators of project-based STEAM learning opportunities.

Students will be challenged to Invent Something To Impact The World. The Tinker.Make.Innovate. Challenge enables students and educators to learn how to use the latest technologies and making tools like the 3D printer, rapid fabrication tools, laser cutters, electronics, robotics and more to bring their STEAM learning  experience alive. We provide students with the opportunity to find a need that is relevant to them and their community for maximum engagement and gain confidence as innovative thinkers. Then, we provide them with an opportunity to demonstrate their learning through an authentic public showcase at Maker Faire 2015 in San Mateo and at Making@SIGGRAPH at the Los Angeles Convention Center in August 2015. 

By providing the training, materials and support that our educators need, the Tinker.Make.Innovate. Challenge and Showcase will help establish Los Angeles as a hub of Innovative Learning. 

How will it work?

Professional Development 

Depending on funding, The Exploratory: Maker Guilds will provide 2-3 orientation workshops for 50-100 educators at our maker space in Culver City. During these workshops, educators will take part in the challenge while having the opportunity to learn how to use the latest making tools. We hope to record these workshops so that they can be provided to those who cannot attend the workshops in person. 

Tools And Materials 

Depending on funding, 50-100 educators will be provided with a Make-It Box filled with materials and tools to facilitate the Tinker.Make.Innovate Challenge for their community. We will also supply a list of recommended materials, as well as letters of support for educators to apply for their own grants and funding. 

Curriculum / Pathways 

Educators and Librarians will be provided with  3 pathways to choose from. Each pathway will be provided with a detailed lesson plan for educators. 

 1. Invent a solution to a  relevant problem in the world. Drawing directly from the news, a relevant problem like the Ebola crisis will be researched and students invited to invent a solution.

2. Invent a solution to a need of your local community. Take a look at your classroom and school environment. What needs do you see? What could you invent to address that need?

3. Invent an answer to a personal need. The student will identify a personal need and invent a solution to that need.



The Tinker.Make.Innovate Challenge values process and the learning journey. We have integrated a digital portfolio opportunity within the challenge to encourage students to document their process, for parents to connect with the process and for educators to have professional reflection. Through the Mozilla Digital Badging system, we will award badges for the multiple stages so that students can keep track of their progress.  


A multi-million dollar research project by the MacArthur Foundation highlights the importance of showcase/sharing ones work as a tool for engagement. Students want to know that their work is meaningful and relevant to their world. To maximize this tool and to further the reach of the Tinker.Make.Innovate. Challenge, we have arranged for a Showcase as a part of Making@SIGGRAPH, at the Los Angeles Convention Center in August 2015. Students will have the opportunity to share their work with tens of thousands of international attendees from the animation, computer graphics, interactive techniques professional fields. Educators from all the world will also have the opportunity to learn these new techniques and bring them back to their students and community. 


Our Partners

Making@ Siggraph 2014

Every year the brightest minds in the engineering, computer graphics, video game, and motion picture industries gather together at a week long conference called SIGGRAPH.  This August, Los Angeles will host SIGGRAPH’s 42nd annual conference at the LA Convention Center.  Jean Kaneko, the Founder of The Exploratory has been asked to create a Making@SIGGRAPH experience for SIGGRAPH attendees, educators and artists to directly learn new technologies, techniques and tools that they can bring back to their communities. It will serve as a culmination showcase for the Tinker.Make.Innovate. Challenge.

AmeriCorps VISTA

The Exploratory: Maker Guilds was granted 2 AmeriCorps VISTA Corps members for 3 years to help build the capacity of organization to increase access and opportunities for STEAM and Making programs in under-served areas.

Maker Education Initiative 

Maker Ed is partnered with Maker Guilds to provide capacity building resources to our team. The Exploratory: Maker Guilds is a pilot Maker Corps member, a Maker Ed program that trains young adults to be maker educators and one of 9 national  subsites for the Maker Vista Corps program.

Los Angeles Summer of Learning

This city wide effort led by Mayor Eric Garcetti  engages youth to pursue their interests outside of the traditional schools setting and collect digital badges along the way.  The Exploratory: Maker Guilds created 18 badges  and conducted workshops at Los Angeles Public Library branches for the 2014 Summer of Learning.


Over 50 teachers from more than 30 schools throughout Los Angeles have already pledged their support to incorporate this challenge into their classroom.

We are looking for more partnerships and sponsors that can help bring this Challenge to more LA youth.

Los Angeles Public Library

The Exploratory: Maker Guilds has conducted over 50+ workshops at LAPL branches throughout Los Angeles for its FULL STEAM AHEAD program as well as an approved member of the performers list. It is currently in discussions to provide professional development for librarians at local branches.