Playful Engineers Teaching Artist Jay Mankita

Kids are Playful Engineers, naturally.

With space to work and play, time for trial and error, and access to open-ended materials, children learn how the world works, through their own exploration and discovery. We facilitate play-based, socially-driven learning environments for kids and families, in-person, and online. Through our programs, kids accomplish tasks, send messages, tell stories, and bring characters to life, through engaging, meaningful, and playful engineering activities.

We also teach specific maker-skills and fundamentals of simple mechanical processes, through our hands-on design and construction sessions: our ‘Makerspace Build-Alongs’. Whether you are planning a big public event, or just one small session, in-person, or online, we can help your Playful Engineers shine!

Hands-on STEAM-Powered Makerspace workshops

plus presentations, residencies, and large events for all ages and abilities, led by teaching artist Jay Mankita, and his small team of engineering enthusiasts.

For in-person programs, we bring our Traveling Makerspace with us, and provide all the materials.

For online programs, you can gather and prepare the materials yourself, or order classroom kits from us.

Artful Mechanisms!

Extraordinary maker activities from craft sticks, paperclips, cardboard, dowels, brads, paper cups, and other ordinary materials.

In-person or virtual. Single session or series. This program combines the two more specific programs below.

Artful Mechanisms programs are available as a single program or series, or broken down into parts: Linkages and Automata:

Mechanical Linkages from Craft Sticks!

Kids make scissor, reverse motion, and parallel linkages from pre-drilled craft sticks and brads which we provide, building backbones for their own artful mechanisms that send messages, tell stories, or accomplish tasks. As they build their mechanisms, they create their own designs as overlays, which in turn, modify the mechanisms. Engineering informs design, and vice versa.

Crank-Driven Mechanical Automata!

Students make their own crankshaft-driven automata designs – artful mechanisms that can send a message, tell a story, or accomplish a task. For a single session, all you need to get started are paperclips, tape, cardboard, paper, pencils, and markers.

Chain Reactions & Creative Contraptions!

If you have a bigger group, we’ve got the materials. Chain Reactions was Playful Engineers first program, and is still our most popular!

Stick-eometry – Geometry from Sticks, pencils, or dowels

With 5 pencils, 3 rubber bands, and some tape, kids make their own flexible geometric manipulatives. Each structure forms triangles, pentagons, pentagrams, and trapezoids, and helps kids discover geometric principles through hands-on play.