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When the Thinkery first opened earlier this year, I delayed in going because I live in North Austin. What a mistake I made! Little did I know what I was missing out on! Our first trip there was this past Saturday and well worth the 35 minute drive! This blog post will give you some trip tips for your first visit and show you a little sneak peek to what the Thinkery has to offer. I’ll be sharing all about the Digital Photography Workshop we went to, but you can check out many of the other workshops they offer here.

Saturday Surprise

When I first learned about the Digital Photography Workshop at the Thinkery I was so excited! I took photography classes in high school and have always been passionate about photography. (Back then, we were only limited to 24 or 36 photos because we had to use FILM!!!) I knew my son shared my passion because he loves to take pictures too! So I registered us as a Saturday surprise for him and didn’t tell him where we were going until we arrived.

Arrival Tips

The Thinkery used to be the Children’s Museum in downtown Austin. Because of this, make sure your Google Maps app doesn’t take you to the wrong location. Just remember that the correct location is 1830 Simond Ave. Once you arrive at Thinkery if you prefer the parking garage like I do, simply tell the drive-thru attendant you are there for the Thinkery and they will give you a ticket for your dashboard. Just return it to the attendant when you leave, and your parking is free!

The Welcome 

When we first arrived, there was so much to look at! I hadn’t seen a “museum” like it before! The building and architecture itself was pretty impressive and not only that, but they have a fantastic place called the “Backyard” that I couldn’t wait to get to. In the meantime, I asked one of the staff members where the Digital Photography Workshop was, and they directed me to a huge garage door. Once inside, we were greeted by 3 friendly staff members who gave us name tags and told us to get comfortable. It was like being inside of a giant, interactive art exhibit! There was so much to look at, even while we waited. I played with iron inside of a magnetic field. You can watch that short video clip here. Each time I turned the knob, the magnetic field would react with the iron and magic happened. OK, so then it was time for the workshop.

The Workshop

First, we were issued our digital cameras! (We also brought one from home too) They have everything you’ll need from the laptops to the SD card. (A quick tip: if you want to keep the photos you or your child takes at the Thinkery, be sure to get a Dropbox account in advance. Before we left I saved the photos my son took by dragging his photo folder on the laptop into my Dropbox’s cloud storage.) The Worshop began with training on camera settings followed by a Powerpoint presentation over photography techniques. I enjoyed the Powerpoint because it went over Rule of Thirds, Lines, and Lighting just to name a few.

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Photo Time!

Each student was then given a checklist and assigned one of the workshop educators to take photos with. My son took it very seriously. Occasionally, the instructor would ask, “do you think you need to use flash on this picture?” I really liked how helpful and attentive they were! Then we went to the darkroom which was my favorite room. Think 80’s childhood: Ranbow Brite and Lite Brite! Then I organized the little pegs to light up in the shape of a heart, and “snap!”  Took my photo.

 Upload and Edit

After about 30-40 minutes of both indoor and outdoor photography, we  then went back inside the awesome see-through garage door. This time, my  son was able to get out the Laptop. The instructor showed the kids (and the adults) how to create a desktop folder for the photos, and then another for the edited ones. We went to Pixlr, an online editing program, to edit the shots. I can see why this workshop is 7 and up, because there is definitely  some computer skills and editing tool use. My son LOVED it.

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Honestly, it was one of the best Saturday mornings. My son and I both got  to enjoy ourselves, and he had some individual instruction so he was able to be autonomous and apply the camera skills he learned. Afterwards, we stayed and explored some other areas of the Thinkery (and what I call the Rainbow Brite room) again.

To Learn More…

Each month the Thinkery offers workshops for children and families that provide an opportunity to engage in a deeper and more advanced learning experience. Each workshop is led by Thinkery educators in a small group setting. Participants collaborate with their parents/caregivers as they learn, build and explore complex processes, tools and materials. Past workshops have included woodworking, computer programming, nail polish making, organic dissections, solar oven cooking and more. Upcoming workshops are published online here. For hours and location click here.

For more Summer Fun Activities in and around Austin, check out our Summer Fun Roundup post!

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