Posted: Jun 28, 2024

Lead Educator, Tinkering Lab

Salary: $22.00 Hourly
Application Deadline: N/A


About Chicago Children’s Museum: Chicago Children’s Museum (CCM) is committed to improving children’s lives by creating a community where play and learning connect. We embrace creativity and collaboration, we never stop learning, and we remember to stop and play along the way. CCM’s staff is a dedicated group of curious individuals who embrace the playful spirit of childhood. Every employee is empowered to reach their potential and be recognized for the impact they have on our organization, visitors, and the community we serve. Over its 42-year history, Chicago Children’s Museum has provided innovative exhibits, arts programs, STEM experiments, imaginative play, and more to over 11 million children and their caregivers. Located at Navy Pier, the museum is intentionally designed for experimentation, creativity, and the universal pursuits of childhood. CCM focuses on accessibility, inclusion, and learning for all children, ensuring valuable and memorable experiences for all visitors.

Through our Tinkering Lab exhibit, CCM believes we can foster an excitement for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) by providing visitors a place of freedom that inspires them to design, build and test using real tools and materials. Past programs include building a collaborative neighborhood out of cardboard, constructing and testing repurposed-material hovercrafts, and designing a playground for toys with differing needs. 


Position Overview:

The Lead Educator, Tinkering Lab, facilitates and supports Tinkering Lab programming. They work closely with the Director of Art and Tinkering Studios to ensure that programming, facilitation, materials, tools and the environment meets the museum’s mission and vision, DEAI (diversity, equity, access and inclusion) principles, and foundational values. The success of this role requires close collaboration with Tinkering Educators, Substitute Educators, and the wider Programming and Exhibits teams. This role includes assisting in development, coordination, preparation, maintenance, documentation, evaluation and facilitation of engineering and making programs both in Tinkering Lab and beyond.


Principal Job Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Provides high quality facilitation of CCM developed Tinkering programs, this includes, but is not limited to: 
  1. Adapting activities to meet the needs of a wide-range of visitors (ages, abilities, interests, backgrounds and perspectives) while considering overall program goals. 
  2. Connecting with visitors in positive, educational, creative and respectful ways. 
  3. Readiness to engage with visitors and coworkers at the start of shift. 
  4. Engaging with program goals which can include exploring tools, materials, phenomena such as electricity and lift, and the engineering process. 
  5. Connecting with visitors, including children and their caregivers, early learners, school groups and adults participating in special events.
  6. Manage daily operations and facilitation of visitor space both independently and as a team. 
  • With Director of Tinkering Lab and Team, research, develop, prepare and prototype new and existing programming, responding to visitor, staff and museum needs.
  • Contributes to the organization and maintenance of the Tinkering Lab room, storage and materials. Changes day-of program set-up as needed. 
  • Regularly helps with communication, both written and verbal, of program and environment changes to Tinkering Lab team.
  • With Director, identifies, sources, purchases, and tracks supplies and tools.
  • With Director of Tinkering Lab, trains and mentors select staff, interns and volunteers, including coordinating ongoing trainings in general tinkering philosophy and in specific skills related to tinkering programing.
  • Works with Tinkering Lab Team on collection and preparation of materials for programs.
  • Conducts all established health and safety protocols to ensure that the Tinkering Lab space, materials and tools remain safe, clean, and healthy for visitors. Assists in Tinkering Lab first aid cases. 
  • Manages Tinkering Lab capacity, including managing timed visitor check-in to the space.
  • Collects attendance numbers, surveys, and documentation of programs. 
  • Fields general museum questions from the public and acts as a museum representative. 
  • Supports the museum’s work in diversity, equity, access and inclusion and actively ensures that DEAI principles are upheld in all work with fellow staff and with visitors.
  • Enthusiasm for learning and mastering new skills on an ongoing basis; Participates in required trainings and meetings regularly. Willingness to be informed/certified/trained through institution-offered courses and to work within Diversity, Equity, Access, Inclusion (DEAI) frameworks and actively engage in learning about these frameworks. 
  • Contributes to other functions of the Tinkering Lab Team in a variety of ways such as assistance in development of a variety of programs; engaging in meetings with broader program staff; and facilitating special events, other programs and occasional offsite programs.


Position Qualifications: 


  • Undergraduate degree in education, engineering, science, art, museum education or comparable experience and evidence of ongoing professional development. 

Job experience:

  • 2-4 years experience teaching elementary aged children tinkering/engineering/making/STEM in a traditional or informal educational setting.
  • Experience purchasing, organizing and staging various STEM and making materials and tools in an educational setting.

Specialized knowledge and skills: 

  • Knowledge of and experience with diverse making/tinkering/engineering forms, processes, tools, techniques, and historical and cultural context of making.
  • Knowledge of and experience with developing making/tinkering/engineering programming for young children. 
  • Experience and/or desire to work with a variety of authentic tools and materials (including but not limited to power drills, hand saws, basic electronics, sewing).  

Demonstrated Competencies: 

  • Dynamic facilitator with experience delivering interactive programs to children and adults.
  • Knowledge of child development, experience with Tinkering, NGSS, and progressive learning and STEAM education philosophies a plus.
  • STEAM curriculum development.
  • Experience working with individuals and families from a variety of backgrounds, abilities, experiences, perspectives.
  • Growth mindset. Interest in and continuous improvement of outcomes for our visitors and communities, including school groups. 
  • Strong organizational skills relating to materials, visuals, space, and ideas.  
  • Ability to work on multiple projects at once.
  • Creativity, patience, and flexibility.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills, effective verbal communication with staff, children and caregivers. Comfortable leading large group discussions as well as in one-on-one interactions with visitors. Written communication includes daily reflections of individual’s practice in Tinkering Lab, tips for next day’s educators, connecting with supervisors and other staff.   
  • Facility with standard word processing and spreadsheet software.
  • Ability to maintain a professional demeanor in a variety of situations; demonstrated problem-solving and reliability.
  • Ability to effectively represent the museum internally and externally.
  • Ability to work in team-oriented environment; ability to accept feedback graciously and integrate it; and work independently without supervision.
  • Bilingual skills highly desired. 

Physical Requirements of the Position 

  • Stamina and physical endurance to stand and walk in Tinkering Lab space, maintaining quality interaction with museum staff and visitors. Bending, lifting, and reaching is required to access supplies. Push, pull and lift up to 40 pounds. Ability to crouch down/sit on the floor/interact at the level of the child.
  • Daily handling of a variety of materials, including repurposed and recycled items. 
  • Repetitive friendly and courteous communication while engaging with visitors and staff and speaking to groups. 
  • Ability to work-in and withstand loud/crowded spaces, including power drills and hammering.
  • Dress code required. Uniform provided. 
  • Ability to engage in virtual meetings via Zoom, TEAMS, etc.


Schedule: Position is 30-35 hours per week. Set schedule Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.


Salary Range: $22/hour.  


Position Status: Full-time, non-exempt, 30-35 hours a week, hourly + benefits


Location: This position will work on-site at Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier.