Meet Our Team

The Tinkering School Collaborators each bring their own unique and exciting perspective to each workshop. We are artists, parents, educators, child specialists, scientists, makers, and thinkers who are silly and also very serious about building community and building cool things with kids!


Gever Tulley
Founder & chief tinkerer

Gever founded Tinkering School in 2005 in order to learn how children become competent and to explore the notion that kids can build anything, and through building, learn anything. A self-taught computer scientist with no formal education, Gever’s expertise is really in… thinking. Gever has taught workshops and made presentations to both kids and adults around the world. He has spoken at TED twice, written articles for MAKE:, and authored the book Fifty Dangerous Things (you should let your children do).


Brendon Bell
Tinkering School Director

Since his days as a young Lego maestro, Brendon has enjoyed tinkering and creating with a wide variety of mediums: everything from building film sets, and converting a camper van, to exploding a huge cardboard box dam! (Ask him about it if you see him).

In his role as Director,  Brendon is grateful to collaborate with an amazing, creative team that’s dedicated to providing more young tinkerers of all backgrounds with the opportunity to dream big and build fearlessly.  

Brendon joined Tinkering School in 2017 with a BA in Film and Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz (Go Banana Slugs!) and a professional background in video production. Most recently, he worked for Free Range Studios producing videos for clients including The Alliance for Climate Education, More than Scientists, NASA, and The Story of Stuff.

Outside of tinkering, Brendon loves to travel, play music, and volunteer as a Nonviolent Communication assistant trainer with BayNVC.

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Julie Peri
Summer 2020 Day Camp Program Manager
After School 2020 Program Manager

Julie is a builder. She spent her childhood playing with LEGOs, has a degree in civil engineering, worked as a construction supervisor with Habitat for Humanity, and started her own non-profit, Dykes With Drills, to teach women and queers how to build.

Julie believes in learning from our mistakes, collaborative team work, and creative design process. Julie is passionate about sharing her love of growth with others, and believes that “anything is possible.”

When not at Tinkering School you can find Julie at her beautiful home in Walnut Creek, or teaching workshops for her nonprofit around the country.


Katie Mcclung
Summer 2020 Day Camp Camp Captain

Katie McClung is a multi-media artist from Alabama. After finishing her undergraduate studies in Painting and Printmaking, she soon discovered her love for interactive sculpture and light installations. Since moving to the Bay Area, Katie has completed her own light installations while gaining fabrication skills through working with several local arts collectives including FLUX Foundation, Black Rock Lighthouse Service, and The Folly. 

Katie has a deep appreciation and love for adventure, language, and cultural diversity. She has worked and volunteered at non-profit organizations and schools in the U.S., India, France, and West Africa. She has 16 years of experience teaching a variety of subjects including Painting/Drawing, Yoga, French, and English with students ages ranging between 3 and 65 years old. 

Katie loves to collaborate, create, share ideas (and silly jokes!). She believes that the most effective way to learn is through both play-based and project-based learning.


Daniel Bigler
Summer 2020 overnight camp Cruise Director

Inspired by countless viewings of the film “Jurassic Park” as a kid, Daniel Bigler really wanted to be either a dinosaur or a filmmaker when he grew up. It turns out the “growing up” part never actually happened, though, and instead Daniel has made a career out of supporting children’s play and curiosity. Daniel spent many summers building and playing with kids (and Gever) at Tinkering School while also working as a faculty member in Children’s Studies at Eastern Washington University during the school year, where he taught courses on the Sociology of Children, the Geography of Childhood, Children’s Play, Children in Film, and more. He holds an MA in Childhood Studies from King’s College London and is finishing an MA in Children’s Rights from the University of Geneva. Daniel has an immense fondness for silliness, adventure playgrounds, children’s books, playing around, movies, and trying to build the longest Hot Wheels track ever in the history of the universe.


Grace Leary
Summer 2020 Registration Manager

After graduating from Brightworks, Grace worked as Tinkering School Aftercare Collaborator & Registration Manager. Since then, she has taken classes on child development and is interested in alternative learning approaches. From volunteering at The Little School as a Teaching Assistant to supporting Teaching Interns as a Youth Leader at Southern Exposure's Mission Voices Summer Program to working at Brightworks School as an After Care Collaborator to helping kids dream big at Tinkering School, Grace has always been passionate about alternative education and working with children. She believes kids should be able to express themselves freely and aims to encourage that notion by helping bring their ideas to life. As an artist herself, this is especially important, and she strives to uphold a safe and supportive learning environment that promotes unlimited potential. 

Whether it's accompanying 4-6 year olds on field trips, assisting art teachers with projects, supporting 12-21 year olds and their artistic expression at camp, or playing crazy chess after school with 5-12 year olds, when it comes to kids, Grace is happy to help.

When she's not focused on Tinkering School registration management, you can find Grace working with Brightworks students, editing photos, collecting interesting things, following intriguing recipes, or gradually checking off flicks from IMBD's list of must-see-movies.


Molly Mansfield
Summer 2019 day camp Program Manager

Molly joined the Institute for Applied Tinkering in 2016 as part of the Tinkering School Summer Program and was a Brightworks Magenta Collaborator and Tinkering School Site Manager in 2016-2017. Molly comes from New Hampshire and loves maple syrup but doesn’t miss shoveling snow. She attended the University of New Hampshire where she completed an M.Ed. with a focus in secondary science education, a B.S. in Microbiology, and a minor in French Language.

She also did plant genetics research, ballroom dancing, and art classes for fun. She holds three teaching credentials in secondary level science in both New Hampshire and California, and taught math and science at two public schools in New Hampshire before moving to Sonoma County to work as a wine scientist and a gymnastics coach for two self-designed sabbatical years. She is excited to lead the Magenta band and continue to help create the most amazing, Brightworks-y high school possible! She loves ice cream, enjoys drawing, sings when she drives, washes her feet when she showers, and sorts M&Ms by color.


Sam Phillips
Summer 2019 OVernight camp Camp Captain

Sam has been helping kids make projects and trust in the power of their ideas since 2009. From facilitating video production workshops in movie theaters across the rust belt of rural Ohio to teaching 6th grade English in Mississippi and Tennessee through Teach for America to partnering with Northwestern University and the YMCA to build a free makerspace for middle-school students in northern Chicago, Sam’s career in education has been (literally) all-over-the-map, yet consistently focused on improving educational equity and leveraging the transformative power of the expressive arts. He has given presentations at the National Art Educators Association Conference and Argonne National Laboratory, was named a 2016 Fellow through the FabLearn program at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, and was a contributing writer to Meaningful Making Vol. 2 published by Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Over the past two years, Sam has juggled several roles at the IAT, including Aftercare and Park Collaborator and leading a Band at Brightworks this year. When he’s not at Tinkering School, you might find him three rows from the front at the Roxie Theatre, catching up on the latest documentaries, drawing by Lake Merritt in Oakland, or volunteering at the Exploratorium.