Tag Archives: Innovation

Cultivating Creative Thinking at School and at Home

Peter and Paul Reynolds of FablevisionGoing Places: How to inspire the next generation of innovators and inventors

A conversation with Paul Reynolds and Peter H. Reynolds, authors, makers and visionary leaders of FableVision.

The twin brothers were keynote speakers at the Fall 2016 opening of Inly School’s new innovation hub, then hung around campus for a tour of the da Vinci Studio and its maker spaces, a book signing of their bestselling children’s books Going Places, and a chat about creativity, innovation and what makes kids tick.

What’s the key to creative thinking? Can it be cultivated?

Paul: I’d say, ‘Be curious.’ That’s where it starts, right there. Often if you tell people to be creative they freeze up. They say they’re not creative. But if you encourage them to be curious about the world around them, then they open up and creativity follows from there.

Peter: Make schools inviting, hands-on learning environments and then go home and make your home an extension of that learning.  Going Places book signing Inly School

When we were young our dad turned our garage into a maker space and workshop where we could build things out of wood. And our mom brought home an old Savin office copier from work. They were throwing it away so she brought it home and put it in the dining room and put a table cloth over it and a vase of flowers. When we wanted to use it we just took off the table cloth.

How cool is that?

Peter: I would make copies of things and it was so old that the copies were really light so I’d have to draw over the outlines with black marker and then I’d walk down to the five and dime in town and make new copies of the redrawn ones with the store copier.

So you were learning about printing and publishing from an early age…

Peter: Exactly. Without realizing it. I was just doing it.

And completely self-directed. Although your mom was clever to provide a tool. What can parents do to foster creativity at home?

Paul: It’s important for kids to see you drawing and singing. If you say you can’t draw, that sends a powerful message. Be brave. Show them that trying new things is fun. Make your home an extension of the school learning environment and let kids know you are also part of that learning team. Ask yourself, Do we have opportunities for creation in our house?

In the early days of video games we said to our three boys, ‘I know you really love playing video games — but it’s just as much fun to make them yourselves.’ So they did, using MIT’s Scratch programming language for kids. It’s no accident then that our middle son Ben graduated this year from MIT with a degree in computer science and game design, and is now set to graduate this June with a master’s while working at the MIT Media Lab. He experienced the joy and agency of making — and we expect it will pay dividends for years to come.

Sally Sisson

 The Reynolds brothers tour the new da Vinci Studio, an innovation lab comprising the Digital Lab and Design Studio, Robotics Space and Maker Space; and the Think Tank, an environment specifically designed for students to imagine and invent.digital_design_technology_inly_reynolds

Top: Paul and Peter Reynolds make some noise in the Digital Lab and Design Studio.

Middle: Illustrator Peter H. Reynolds makes his mark on the wall-to-wall whiteboard in Inly’s new Think Tank. 

Bottom: Imagination in action! Children dive into the creative peter_reynolds_going_places_inlyprocess, experimenting in their own maker space in the da Vinci Studio.

maker_space_inly_schoolFurther news and inspiration
For more in this series on creativity, innovation, and the new learning labs and spaces at Inly, see:

Celebrating Imagination and a Library for the Future

Print and Digital Find the Perfect Home


Books on imagination and innovation

Going Places by Peter and Paul Reynolds

“A celebration of creative spirit and thinking outside the box.” Watch the book trailer below.

The Importance of Creativity and Innovation in Schools

by Donna Milani Luther

8th Grade students tinkering at NuVu

8th Grade students tinkering at NuVu Studio

Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build the youth for our future.” This is the imperative for schools in this century.

There is a great deal of buzz in the world of education right now about creativity and innovation and why these skills should be incorporated more into K–8 school curricula to build for the future. We are preparing students of today for the jobs of tomorrow—jobs that don’t exist yet, in fields that will be created to meet the demands of an ever-changing world. And yet many schools are still using what Sir Ken Robinson describes as the “industrial age factory model” for education, which doesn’t meet the growing demand for creativity and innovation.

Interestingly, a number of schools are adopting a more Montessori-inspired classroom model to help meet this demand. The AltSchool in California, for example, founded by a former Google engineer, is described as “Montessori 2.0” with a strong focus on technology. Closer to home, a former MIT graduate, Saeed Arida, created NuVu “The Innovation School,” a full-time magnet innovation school in Cambridge. At NuVu, students learn in a hands-on environment with coaches who help guide the creative process, from inception to completion. NuVu’s pedagogy is based on the architectural studio model and geared around multi-disciplinary, collaborative design projects. Within each multidisciplinary Studio, students explore problems rigorously by focusing on one project for two weeks. A Studio Coach mentors students to develop their project through an iterative process over the course of the Studio. Students confront the small and large contexts within problems as they are exposed to complex, ‘messy’ situations. The NuVu Team continuously evaluates students through deskcrits and final reviews.

I am proud to say that our 8th grade students, for the second year in a row, have spent two weeks at NuVu. This spring, our students were assigned a project called  “Wheelchair Hacks” and asked to come up with creative modifications to wheelchairs. To see their clever creations, you can click here. Final projects included everything from a wheel-cleaning device to a height adjusting chair. It was exciting to see our students come up with clever modifications and explain how their process worked from beginning to end. They all hit road blocks but, like in real-life, figured out ways around them to get to their end goal.

AltSchool and Nuvu are just two examples of how education is coming around to the century old forward-thinking of Dr. Maria Montessori who took what had been in education and imagined what could be. Today at Inly, in the tradition of Montessori, we are imagining what can be in the world of education because we fundamentally believe in the power and potential of children. This is why we want to ensure our school environment fosters their capabilities, creativity, and innate desire to learn and explore.

As many of you already know, Inly is currently planning to build an innovation lab, reimagined library, and six new classroom spaces next year. The innovation lab will be known as the “DaVinci Studio” and will be a central location for our robotics, 3D printing, digital video creation, and tinkering projects. Along with these offerings, the DaVinci Studio will have an idea space, which will have whiteboards on the walls and surfaces for students to imagine, draw, and plan. I believe this space will allow our students to expand and grow in new and exciting ways.

Creativity and innovation should be at the core of a curriculum and instrumental to the way children learn. Paramount to the continued success of schools is ensuring that learning spaces mirror the collaborative work spaces of the real world and enable students to problem-solve, think differently, and challenge the status quo. The authors of The Third Teacher put it succinctly when they said we should “design learning environments and use design thinking to strategize cultural, pedagogical, and organizational change.”

At Inly, our new building project will enable us to accomplish both things that Roosevelt charged educators to do: ‘‘build a future for our youth and build youth for our future.”

Inly Alum and State Science Fair Winner Ricky Housley on Innovation and Invention

In the news (once again!)

Ricky Housley, Inly School ’08, recently won first place at the South Shore Regional Science Fair and has been selected to represent Massachusetts Region V at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair on May 13-19th in Pittsburgh.  He will also present at the MassMEDIC conference in Boston and compete at the 2012 Mass State Science and Engineering Fair on May 4-5th at MIT. Ricky has already racked up numerous prizes for his “Emergency Convulsive Seizure Detection and Notification System,” a device he engineered that detects a convulsive seizure, and texts the individual’s GPS location to emergency personnel. Last year Ricky earned first place in the Mass State Science and Engineering Fair, and we’ll be rooting for him once again!

A senior this year at Boston University Academy (BUA), Ricky is Vice Captain of the BUA Robotics Team and plays on the varsity soccer team. While a student at Inly Middle School, Ricky started a robotics club and also shared his expertise by teaching robotics in the Inly After School Program.

Inly School graduate working with roboticsRicky on Innovation and Invention

Given the young inventor’s busy schedule, we were lucky to catch up with him during Inly’s Invention Convention week, to ask for his thoughts on the art and science of invention.

Q: What kind of qualities do you think it takes to be a successful inventor?

Creative vision, persistence, and creativity.

People always say that inventors and scientists see things in the world differently. Usually, they are implying that these inventors and scientists can take things apart in their minds and essentially figure out how they work. While this may be true, it isn’t what makes an inventor successful.

An inventor is successful when he views the distasteful things in life not “as is” but as broken, as something that can be fixed. Initially, this may sound like a pessimistic perception of life, but really it’s an optimistic one; it means that we are not stuck in the way things currently are, but we are able to better everything around us.

Successful inventors notice, and fix the things in the world that have not reached perfection. Dean Kamen recognized that diabetics were not receiving the optimal form of treatment and developed the insulin pump as a result. [Note: Kamen invented the first portable infusion pump when he was still an undergrad at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. At age 30 he sold his first company, AutoSyringe, and later invented the Segway!]

Persistence: Things rarely ever work the first time and the only solution is to keep on trying.

Creativity: When things don’t work, one needs the creativity to come up with new, and different solutions. To quote the cliche, sometimes you just have to “think outside of the box.”

Q: What does creativity have to do with invention? Isn’t science pretty cut and dry, black and white, whereas creativity has more to do with the arts?

Creativity is not only relevant to the art of invention, but it is required. Invention requires the ability to think of different approaches and solutions to a problem. To relate this to a personal experience of mine: recently I required a lot of acceleration data for a science fair project I have been working on (a convulsive seizure detection and notification system). Unfortunately there is zero publicly available data. So, instead of giving up and moving on I spent a long time brainstorming trying to come up with a solution and ultimately it worked; I was able to abstract the data from videos of patients having convulsive seizures.

Q: What advice do you have for young people interested in pursuing science or engineering?

Learn public speaking. One often overlooked subject in the field of STEM is speaking. Inventions are great for personal use, but it is best to share them with the world and the only way to do this is through effective communication. (This is where I found Inly really helped me out.)

Q: What are your plans for the future?

I will be attending college in the near future. I am currently undecided as to which college, though I do have it narrowed down to Stevens Institute of Technology or The University of Rochester. There I will be majoring in computer engineering and will hopefully receive a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years, as I qualified for a five-year master’s program in both schools. Hopefully I will be able to continue my work developing medical devices, and hopefully the patent application I have pending will be approved.

Inly School grad Ricky Housley wins science fair award

Inly grad Ricky Housley with his multi-award-winning science fair project

Links

Inside Inly: Inly Alumnus Wins State High School Science Fair

Wicked Local Scituate: Inly student wins third straight state science fair

“Culture of Creativity” at Inly School

Kicking off International Montessori Week

Video: Google Founders Talk Montessori

Here’s an oldie but goodie to kick off Montessori Week at Inly School. In this interview with Barbara Walters, the young founders of Google credit their success not to brains and business experience, but to their early years in Montessori school.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin met as students at Stanford University and say they “clicked in an interesting way from the start.” Having both attended Montessori schools as young children, they attributed their bond to classic Montessori qualities: “being self-motivated, questioning what’s going on in the world,  and doing things a little differently.”

Read more about the Google founders and the Montessori mindset here:

Wired Magazine: Larry Page on Google and Its Startup Roots
“You can’t understand Google unless you know that both Larry and Sergey were Montessori kids. In a Montessori school, you go paint because you have something to express…not because the teacher said so. This is baked into how Larry and Sergey approach problems. They’re always asking, why should it be like that? It’s the way their brains were programmed early on.”

Montessori Education in the News

For more news on Montessori education and innovation, check out Why Montessori? on the Inly School website.