Tinkering Lab | Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier

Tinkering Lab

Welcome to Tinkering Lab, Chicago’s first DIY maker-space for families! Step into the ultimate workshop where we provide the space and resources, and you decide what to do next. We’re talking REAL tools, REAL materials and the freedom to innovate and explore life outside those fancy computer and smartphone screens.

Start by taking our Pegboard Challenge, which features different gears, balls, chutes and other loose parts. Add, remove and tweak to create your own unique cause-and-effect reaction.

Once you’re finished, make your way to the exhibit’s workshop spaces, and jump right in. Trouble getting started? Try a visit to the Tool Bar, and choose from our wide selection of hammers, power drills, screwdrivers, saws and much more. Our professionally trained staff is available to assist when using tools that need extra supervision, and will happily brainstorm if tinkerers hit a creative wall.

And Tinkering Lab isn’t just for big kids either. If you’re visiting with young ones, check out the Early Learning Nook, a safe, protected space designed specifically for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. The area features interactive wall panels, touchable tools and found objects, loose shakers and other repurposed items.

We are currently looking for individuals who would like to get involved with Tinkering Lab through volunteering. This is a great way to lend a hand and begin your collaboration with the museum and the exhibit. To learn more, please contact us.

Tinkering Lab: Real tools. Real science. Really for kids!

Special thanks to the Northwestern University Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, funded by the National Science Foundation (DMR-1121262), for their help with prototyping and formative evaluation of the Tinkering Lab exhibit.