About Kami Wilt

Kami runs Austin Tinkering School. After running a preschool as well as teaching art, science, nature, and carpentry classes, she saw Gever Tulley’s TED talk, 5 Dangerous Things (you should let your children do) and realized that Austin needed a tinkering school, stat. Gever Tulley came to visit Austin and he agreed. Now she, also, has had the pleasure of putting power tools in the hands of second graders, and has loved every minute of it.
Posts by kami

Tinkering Teachers wanted

Austin Tinkering School is seeking fun, energetic, enthusiastic, competent tinkering assistant teachers to work our summer camps from Jun. 5- July 28th, M-
F, 9-1. Pay is $15 an hour.  Email us at info@austintinkeringschool.com to apply.

Must be responsible, enjoy working with kids, have some teaching or leadership experience, be comfortable with tools and knowledgable about building and construction.

At Tinkering School, we let kids take the lead with the designs, so must be comfortable stepping out of the traditional ‘teacher’ role and collaborating with the kids, guiding them towards completion and successful projects.

This is a fun and unforgettable summer job! We build all sorts of things, from roller coasters to boats to pinball machines or giant marble mazes.

We will have some work leading up to the summer in different tinkering classes that take place at Tinkering School, so it’s a good time to train before summer starts.

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Welding demo with Cheraya.

Welding demo with Cheraya.


Month of Making!

Click here to get in on our Month of Making for only $20! Starting on Nov. 28/ Black Friday, you’ll receive awesome projects and ideas galore from guest makers like Bernadette Noll of Future Craft Collective, Kate Payne from Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking, Samantha Matalone Cook of Curiosity Hacked, as well as a healthy helping of hot tips from yours truly at Austin Tinkering School, delivered piping hot to your inbox every morning for the next 30 days. Kids projects, bath/body/home/hearth, food, gifts, and lots more! Set a precedent to Make this holiday season!

Busy, Busy, September at OpenShop

We hosted our first OpenShop just over 1 year ago, opening our North location to young Tinkerers to realize their building dreams. What a difference that year has made! This has been a busy, busy month at OpenShop, with loads of fun, interesting projects and a great batch of Tinkerers. This month saw robots, lots of Arduinos, soldering, and the usual spade of powertools and hot glue guns. Here are the photos!

Noah and Evan get fired up over Arduinos and blinking some LEDs!

Some bandsaw time for some quick and easy gravestones.

Noah practices his soldering as he works on his LED adorned walking staff.

Combine a temporary switch, coin cell battery, a 3v bright white LED, some terminals from an old pager, and a long, straight stick. Cut a battery slot, solder it up, and let there be light!

Calder works on holes for his hovercraft. Hey Calder, pay attention to that knife!

Wright’s super cool ‘hovercraft’ invention.

Noah’s cardboard battle helmet. Should go well with the LED staff.

Today we start up October’s sessions! Grab your Tinkerer a 1 month pass and come play with us!

Maker Scouts! (again)

Maker Scouts is always so much fun, each week we choose a topic/theme/idea/word and explore. This week our magic word was energy. Mostly that applied to the enthusiasm of this group of kiddos! All had an intense passion for tinkering, making, and, you guessed it, plenty of ENERGY!

Piyali warms up with the hand saw.

Kami introduces the first challenge: To lift a collaborator!

And Griffin busts some moves.

Eliza is not to be outdone!

August checks out a model wind farm that Terry Garity brought in to share with the Tinkerers.

Solar and crank energy were also on display.


And Snap Circuits! This age group was really engaged with the Snap Circuit projects.

“Tobin, do you have a question about Energy? No, just about diapers? Cool.”

Iris gets a lift.

Dash tires!

Carl checks out a collaborator lifting device. (later re-purposed for a pretty awesome slide)

We spent much of Wednesday waiting for the wind to come up for an energy generation demo from kPower. Though the wind wasn’t great the technology was pretty impressive!


Anna and Eliza put a shiny coat of paint on their shelves.

Anna and Jonas work on the lunch lifter. It seems lunches are much easier to lift than collaborators.

Friday’s shocking guest was ARC ATTACK! We were so excited to have these world renowned artists in our own back yard workshop!

Ellie demonstrates wireless illumination of a fluorescent bulb!

Anna and Eliza haul away just a few pieces of furniture they tinkered up during camp!

Though we never got a collaborator more than a few feet of the ground the camp was a BLAST! What an amazing group of self lead tinkerers. See y’all again next year!




Maker Seniors 2014

Maker Seniors is always such a treat for ATS. We really get to tackle some serious projects, we can crank up the tools we use and the Tinkerers have the capacity to really create a healthy dose of awesome! This week we turned to an old favorite with a new twist. It’s been a while since we did boats and this year each team was challenged with a specific material.

Collaborator Joel and Jack work out the wooden frame for their cardboard boat. Yes, CARDBOARD!

Team Pickie test one of their two model boats.

Kami and her team discuss plans for their PVC craft.

We found some amazing goodies at bulky pick-up! 10 water bottle jugs came in pretty handy for the cycle powered raft platform.

Sealing up the cardboard seems like a pretty good idea!

Greg puts the drill press through it’s paces putting a few holes in steel brackets.

The paddle boat comes together nicely!

The final boat is a plywood jon boat.

It spins! And fast!

YES! WELDING! The camp was a twitter with ‘don’t look at the welding ark’ speak.


Looks pretty good up there!

A little front heavy but VERY successful!

The SS. Bazertle Bout (Bizarre Turtle)  prepares for its maiden voyage.

She floats! All four Tinkerers!

The cardboard boat tests the waters.


All the boats floated their teams and we had an amazing time building and sailing these crafts. Thank to everyone for all their hard work!


Flying Finish at Ann Richard’s

Well, we wrapped up another amazing week at Ann Richards School last Friday and what a blast! We must thank the campers, the amazing staff at Ann Richards, and our teen and adult collaborators. This excellent camp wouldn’t have happened without y’all!

Now to the photos!

Team Panda certainly took the award for best branding, most cohesive social media campaign, and their bi-plane was pretty cool too!

All the teams were inspired by Picki’s giant sling shot and built small egg protecting boxes to fling off the platform. This one was an egg retirement home!

Nooi is looking pretty cool!

Team Picki is proud of their revamped flying machine. After a couple rounds of failure they found a sturdy, stable little design.

Thursday’s testing goes pretty well. Proper launch technique will be a great challenge.

And then comes the big day… We modified last week’s launch platform a bit and got it assembled in the field.

And let the flinging begin!

Honestly, the sling shot had better results on the ground. But all eggs survived!

First up, Panda.

Blurry flight is still flight!

Kablooi presents their amazing flying dart. Two weeks running, this type of design proved to be very successful.

Erin helps hoist Nooi’s flying cat creature onto the platform.

A great launch and successful flight from Nooi’s flying box!

And the egg lives!

Picki preps to sling their flying machine!!!

All the eggs made it intact! Thanks again to Ann Richards, what a great camp! See y’all soon.


Art Camp: part 1!

What an awesome week we had at Art Camp!

On Monday we welcomed our first guest teacher, Christopher Locke of Heartless Machine (I’ll probably never stop raving about his kickstarter informercial for the Heartless Machine Guide to Drawing).

Chris showed us how to make instant books.  First he showed us a few of his own (hilarity ensued):

And then he shared his special recipe:

Start your first page with a hilarious animal, a name, and a profession.  Then introduce the second character.  On the third page there is a conflict of some kind, which on the fourth page is resolved, and then on the fifth page you wrap it all up with a bow. 

Luckily you still have the back page for your SURPRISE ENDING:

We started work on our string art project. Painting and hammering… straight-forward and satisfying.

On Wednesday artist Melissa Knight came to tell us about her work and to lead us in a fabric collage project.

The hand-dyed and batiked fabric that Melissa brought for us to work with was so beautiful.  A very satisfying project!

Ann Richards Flugtag Week #2 (mid-week update)

There’s something pretty amazing about working with so many brilliant young ladies at Ann Richards School! We started the week a little nervous. We were to have more girls this week and many of them were incoming 6th graders. How silly of us to be nervous! These ladies kick butt. This week we focused on a Flugtag again and are giving our high school collaborators more control over the class. 

Avery and Aleeya absorb some info about how paper’s grain affects its strength.

Trisha and Samantha begin work on their Big Mouth Tumblewing Gliders. It was great to revisit this project and see the collaborators have more success and be able to share more knowledge with this group of Tinkerers.

Emma gets a heavier glider going.

And sliding compound miter saw practice begins. Here are Arden (above) and Janea (below) in action.

But don’t forget about the handsaws. Our safety rules don’t let Tinkerers cut shorter pieces on the chop saw so a little physical labor is required and Julliana doesn’t shy away from it!

Lucero gets some practice with the drills.

Francesca shares some glider ideas with Lucero and Janea.

First casualty of the week.

Taping foam together to make wing ribs has been a popular technique for achieving uniform wing shapes. Here Alysha cuts her team’s wing ribs on the bandsaw.

And Erin’s donation of fabric has been a popular choice for wing skins.

Egg protection container.

It’s a bi-plane! The only person more excited is the guy taking the picture!

Alexandra gives their slingshot a test run. They were able to launch an eraser about 50 feet! We’ll see how far it launches a flying machine!

Stephanie and Maya test aluminum foil as a wing skin.

Samantha found that a small strip of foam provided enough support to stabilize the Nooi’s wing.

And  team Kablooi perform a stressful, but successful test run!

Today we work on the structure a bit and refine airplane designs! Check back soon!

Ann Richards Camp week #1

Our first week of camps at Ann Richard’s School has finished up and I’d declare it successful! The group of girls we had last week was such a blast to work with. The high school co-collaborators were great fun and Erin Willig killed it in her first week as an Austin Tinkering School Collaborator. Don’t miss the video link at the end of this post!

Stephanie explores PVC cutting. None of the groups used PVC… perhaps next week!

Some ramp and foil details

Bella and Emma work on the launch structure.

Rockets Red Glare gets her wings.


Stella and Katharine work on the launch structure.

Team Kabloi crack them selves up!

Obviously capes are required for any successful flight attempts.

It’s important not to get TOO attached to the eggs…

Rockets Red Glare looking pretty good on takeoff.

Bella launches team Nooi’s Francisco high into the air.

Katharine and Stephanie’s big box was very well balanced and protected the egg well. However, no optimized for aerodynamics.

Obviously, when you have a tall platform, you must re-enact scenes from Titanic.

Video of the flyings!