ScienceWorks Hands-on Museum Brings New Festival to Oregon’s Rogue Valley: TinkerFest – September 21st and 22nd, 2013


When designer Richard Jarel was eight years old, he took apart his father’s watch. “I carefully put it back together and it worked fine,” he recalls. “The only problem was that I still had three parts left over. My dad was not happy!”

That experience did not dampen Jarel’s tinkering spirit. He’s gone on to design toy prototypes for Mattel, and special effects for Disney, Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures.  From the Batmobile to Power Ranger helmets, from kinetic sculptures to a remote-controlled flying superman, Jarel’s creations populate our cultural landscape.

Jarel will share his creative journey and what he calls his “eye candy” of prototypes, props and models when he joins other creative thinkers and inventors for two days of playful invention and exploration at ScienceWorks Hands-on Museum’s inaugural TinkerFest on September 21 and 22.

The car take-apart is one of the many popular tinker stations offered both days. Photo by Nelson Chenault.

The car take-apart is one of the many popular tinker stations offered both days. Photo by Nelson Chenault.

Members of the Rogue Hack Lab, Ashland Art Center, Southern Oregon University’s Department of Digital Arts, and other inspired tinkerers have all worked with museum staff to create a variety of tinkering tables, “playshops” and activities.

“One planned activity that is sure to be a big draw is the car take-apart,” said Chip Lindsey, executive director of ScienceWorks. Lindsey has spearheaded many similar events at other museums over the past ten years. “Kids love being encouraged to take things apart, and that leads to wondering how to put them back together again.”

TinkerFest focuses on open-ended hands-on discovery that celebrates science, technology, engineering, art and creativity.  Parents and children will have the opportunity to play at a wide variety of tinkering tables that offer opportunities such as  dismantling  and fixing  small appliances, constructing copper-wire trees that  incorporate LED lights, building sculptures from odds and ends, crafting wiggly recycled-tire creatures, and manipulating robotic warriors.

The festival brings technology together with craftspeople, educators, families and artists to learn from each other. Art and technology are merged in interactive performances featuring dance, music, and robotic demonstrations.  “The broad focus is to bring folks together who want to share their passions for building, designing, creating and performing,” said Lindsey.

On September 22, the museum will offer in-depth playshops with internationally-acclaimed artists Georgina Hayns and Arline Fisch (advanced registration is required).  Hayns turned her childhood love of puppet-making into career-producing award-winning 3-D animated films like “Coraline” and “ParaNorman.” She’ll share her process with aspiring puppet-makers, teaching the basics of armature building, costumes, hair, sculpting and claymation.

Contemporary master jeweler Arline Fisch will lead a workshop in knitting and crocheting with wire, teaching techniques she used to create the shimmering jellyfish wire sculptures of her traveling exhibition, Creatures from the Deep, also featured as part of TinkerFest.

For more detailed information and a schedule of events and times, visit , visit the museum at 1500 E Main St., Ashland, Oregon, or call (541) 482-6767.

About Pat Tellini

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