Kids Invent! Creative Activities stimulate the imagination of children by having them design and build projects which solve science and engineering problems, while developing presentation materials. Children learn to present their concepts, demonstrate their ideas, and think through the practical issues of design, performance, and functionality. All Kids Invent! Creative Activities emphasize important principles in math and science, while fostering the development of social skills that help children learn to collaborate in a variety of tasks.
The Kids Invent! approach to learning is an engaging and natural way for kids to learn math, science, invention, and the process of transforming abstract ideas into tangible things. Through the invention experience inherent in Kids Invent! Creative Activities, children are faced with practical problems which they learn to solve through observation, thinking, and experimentation. As part of that process, they also learn to use tools and materials, to manage time, and work with others.
Kids are happiest and most alert when they are active. So why do we tell them to sit still and listen when we want them to learn? Research has shown us the best ways to get kids to learn. And, it isn’t the traditional classroom. The best ways mimic how inventors learn. They work on problems, get ideas, and build models to test their ideas. Often times the first solution doesn’t work, so they change it and try again.
Inventors are not the only ones who use this “fast prototype” approach. People in all creative pursuits do this from artists and musicians to engineers and entrepreneurs. The approach delivers learning at the speed of ideas.
And, the approach engages. People like learning using their creativity and critical thinking skills. Even kids who don’t like learning like the Kids Invent! method. In fact, these kids often race ahead faster than the A students.
What’s the secret? We treat kids as if they were inventors, designers, or engineers. They work with one or two of their peers to build and test models to solve problems. We choose problems that are challenging, yet do-able, and that lead to discovery of the principle concepts of science.
Kids follow their curiosity and apply their creativity to learning what they need to make their model the best. Because they built the model and did the experiments, they understand the science. And they love the experience and beg to do more.
Teachers love the process, too. They have to prepare, but during class they are free to do what they always wanted to do: teach. Behavior problems vanish as kids are engaged. Each team is engaged in their own project working at their own speed and not needing constant instructions from their teacher. So the teacher can wander around the room looking for the teachable moment. This is the way teaching and learning should occur.
Science Standards are now in place throughout the US and much of the world. Looking at dozens of state and national standards we see large differences in the format and language and many similarities in content and approaches. Nearly all stress an understanding of the process of science and the integrity of science, along with understanding concepts of energy and energy transfer, forces, motion and position, light, heat, and electricity. Many include performing mathematical computations, estimating, and graphing. Most include making and understanding the concepts of models and systems. Many express the need for creative and critical thinking skills being part of the science experience.Kids Invent! Creative Learning Activities cover these processes and content areas. You can choose which CLA will meet your needs and students' interest by referring to the attached table.
Participating in a single activity will not guarantee that students will have mastered the subject. We suggest you look for the extensions suggested in the CLAs and that you conduct other activities that cover the same topics. Students need to experience the concepts and processes in different ways over a period of time to truly comprehend them.
The value of CLAs is that they present a natural way of inquiry learning that appeals to the broadest spectrum of intelligence types and they develop problem solving and creative thinking skills. In other words, the CLAs mimic the experiences that professional scientists, engineers, and inventors encounter. And, students enjoy the experience and want to do more – which is the best sign of a successful learning experience.
Ed Sobey, Ph.D. is a world explorer with numerous scientific expeditions. He holds a Ph.D. in oceanography from Oregon State University.
Ed is a global evangelist for creative learning. He encourages creativity, inventing, and innovation through his books, workshops, and exhibits that travel to museums throughout the world. The Institute for International Education has awarded Ed two Fulbright grants for science teaching. Teachers in more than 30 countries have participated in his workshops.
He was the founding director of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, founder of the National Toy Hall of Fame, and co-founder of Kids Invent! He has directed five museums in the United States and served as President of the Ohio Museums Association.
Ed has published thirty-one books. Topics include science and technology, inventing, and physical fitness. In 2003, his writing was recognized with a Voice of Youth Activities Nonfiction Honor List. Ed’s work was also recognized with a 2005 Congressional Award for Inventing Equitable Futures.
Ed created and hosted the TV show The Idea Factory, an inventing TV show for children and hosted the science TV show, Blow the Roof Off, for Ohio Public Television.
Timothy M. Stearns is the holder of the Coleman Foundation Chair in Entrepreneurial Studies and Executive Director/Founder of the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at California State University, Fresno www.lylescenter.com. Professor Stearns received his MBA degree in management and a doctorate in management/sociology from Indiana University. He previously was a member of the Management faculty at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and Marquette University. He has served on the editorial board of the Academy of Management Journal, and currently serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Business Research and the Journal of Small Business Management.