Tag Archives: Technology

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.

Inly’s Technology Philosophy

By Julie Kelly-Detwiler and Kelley Huxtable

B07A8074Our Parent Insight Event on Technology was missed due to snow days, but we wanted to share some of our thoughts on technology at Inly, as well as some often requested guidelines and resources for parents.

Technology at Inly at a Glance

At Inly, we use Montessori’s work to guide our introduction of technology into the classroom.  Montessori observed—and current brain study confirms—that three-dimensional, hands-on materials are the most effective tools to learning for young children. And so, from Toddler House to grade 2, we intentionally minimize the use of screen-based technologies. There is a great deal of current evidence showing that the process of physically crossing the midline of the body builds a child’s brain pathways and that much is lost in this development when children move too quickly to keyboarding, or work on tablets or smart phones. Our focus is to instill habits of mind that will encourage children’s natural capacity to problem solve. We focus on how children behave when they don’t know an answer.  Montessori works allow children the space and time to build this mental toolkit, which is the set of skills they need to attack and solve future problems. In addition, we emphasize computational thinking by exposing them to coding with cups, building circuits to create art, and incorporating STEM activities into their reading comprehension.

In third grade, our students take a year-long course on library and technology where they are formally introduced to skills in two key areas of technology: digital citizenship and digital literacy.  There is a great deal of direct instruction in research skills, accessing and assessing sources, and digital safety.  During third grade, each Inly student is given an Inly e-mail address and access to Google Apps, which they begin to use in preparation for their transition to UE.  We recommend that this be the first time students experience a level of independence with technology and, in this closed system, we are able to monitor every interaction so that we can use our students’ successes and missteps as learning opportunities within a protected domain.

In Upper Elementary, direct instruction in technology is continuous and ongoing, and is integrated into other areas of study. At this level, technology becomes a tool to create and share knowledge. Students have access to various devices for research, writing, and presentations. They create and share work using Google Apps, begin using interactive white-board technology in their teaching and learning, and engage in some curricular skills work online. Sixth year students complete a year-long capstone project that culminates in a presentation in which they use multiple technologies to demonstrate their learning.

By Middle School, students are quite comfortable using technology for academic and creative exploration and presentation. They have access to laptops in the classroom,  complete their Spanish work in an online audio/video language lab, and explore a variety of technology applications in committee work to create and problem-solve.   At this age, students are often exploring or using social media, and the social emotional lessons around digital citizenship, empathy, and social boundaries are real and frequent.

In addition to class work, students are searching out other ways to explore and learn with  technology on campus—from designing in 3D to running DIY robotics programs using micro-controllers and breadboards to learning to program with Lego EV3 Mindstorms.   The push toward innovation and creation is no doubt exciting and having students take the lead is an awesome experience that is not new to Inly. We are looking forward to continuing our journey into this new world of making and innovating with all our students, parents, and alums.

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


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

The "Aha" Series: 'Coooooooooooooool!' Stuff with the Lower Elementary Library and Technology Specialists

This week, we asked our Lower Elementary library and technology specialists to share some of their favorite stories that illustrate those moments of joyful discovery when an idea really clicks for a student and the “aha!” epiphany brings new life to learning.

Shelley Sommer, Head Librarian

There are several requests that are made each day in the Inly Library:

I want a chapter book that is exciting…It is about a girl my age… She might be a princess or have a magical power…She has adventures.

I’m looking for a book that I read last year. It’s green.

I want a book about a dog that looks just like my dog.

I want the book that my friend checked out last month. I don’t know what it’s called.

I’m looking for a book about witches and monsters, but it can’t be scary.

Meeting each of these requests takes a good memory, a little luck, and a sense of humor. But, few things are as satisfying as making the perfect match between student and book. When a student says those magic words: “That’s it!” it’s wonderful and quite frankly, a bit of a relief.

I’m lucky to have aha moments every day. When I see a post-it note stuck to my computer from an older student telling me that a recommended book was perfect, it makes my day. I love helping teachers and parents find a good book to read aloud to a class. I love hearing the kindergarten students proudly announce that they are “moving up” a level in their learn-to-read books. Most of all, I love to see the spark that comes from connecting with a book. There are times when a book reaches a student at just the right time in their lives, and you can almost see their world getting bigger. It’s a privilege to share the journey with them.

Library Class

During the second half of the year, all third-year Lower Elementary students have an extra weekly Library class of their own to learn more advanced research skills. We begin by covering different types of reference books—including dictionaries, encyclopedias, and atlases—and later move on to the Dewey Decimal System. It’s interesting to see students’ progression throughout the semester.

Here’s a specific example: A third-year student came down to the Library to do research on agriculture in New Zealand. He started by asking for just that: a book on agriculture in New Zealand. I suggested he start with a general book on New Zealand, and he headed straight for the 900s section, knowing right where to look. A few minutes later he called out, “But there’s nothing on agriculture in the Table of Contents.” I asked him where else in the book he could look, someplace that would list topics alphabetically rather than by chapter. “The index?” he asked, flipping to the back of the book. “Agriculture—found it!” he said, and then searched for the right pages. I went on to assist another student and then heard him call out again: “But there’s only one good page here. I need to write a whole paper!”

“Where else can you look?” I asked. “Google?” he replied.

“Yes, but are there any other books to try first? How about in the Reference section?”

“The encyclopedia!” he said, heading for the World Book section.

“Sure, but is there another encyclopedia you could look in first? One that’s all about different countries?”

“You mean People and Places”?

“Yes! That’s the perfect place to look.”

He picked the right volume and flipped through the alphabetical headings until he found his country. “Look, there are like three whole pages, just on agriculture! Cool, there’s a picture of a kiwi tree.” He spent several minutes perusing the subtitles and text. Then he said, “But I also need to find out how many kiwis they shipped to America last year. It doesn’t say here.”

“Then where do you think you could find that information? You need something more specific and up-to-date.”

“Google?” he asked.

Yes. Aha! He got it! Step by step, he used the skills he’d learned in Library class to hunt down the information he needed for his research project. He went from broad to narrow, used a variety of reliable resources, and learned a lot—in terms of both process and content—along the way. Now he was logging on to one of the library computers, to continue his quest for data on kiwis, using all the sage advice he’d learned from “Mr. Paul” in Technology class, I’m sure.

Brigid Lengyel, Assistant Librarian

I’m new to Inly, but some of its students made an impression on me right away. One morning a Children’s House class arrived in small groups for their library time. Each group contained two kindergartners who took responsibility for their younger classmates, helping them with book selections, making recommendations, and generally keeping a watchful eye on the preschool students.

I was struck by how serious these five-year-old children took their responsibility while remaining kind and gentle. I wondered if I might be seeing them on their best, September behavior, but their attitude hasn’t changed over the course of seven months. I’ve observed as the school year has progressed that this combination of nurturing and confidence-building is a thread that runs through the Inly environment, and that what seemed a bit remarkable at the time was in fact an everyday occurrence here.

Paul Park, Technology

The pervasiveness of digital technology can make the word “digital” seem almost mundane. Their joy at being able to manipulate and create digitally is something that seems to be almost innate in today’s youth. However, in the journey that I am privileged to guide the third-year students through each spring semester, there are times when the inner workings of today’s digital ubiquity can produce those low and drawn-out utterances like “Cooooooool!” or “Neeeeat!” and that certainly makes my day.

One of the first discussions we have in the class is about the flow of digital signals throughout, in and out of a computer. I show them various components of a computer and explain how they communicate with each other by sending digital codes down either wires or electronic circuit paths. While we are having this discussion, I pass around the physical computer parts for the students to inspect. The ability to see and touch the parts—parts that when turned on come together and communicate to produce the technology experience that they are so familiar with by now—produces some of the longest exclamations: “Coooooooooooooool!”

[This post originally appeared in Rhythm & News, the Inly School newsletter, on April 10, 2009.]