Friday, December 7, 2012

Growing Innovative Thinkers

What is innovation?  Why does being innovative matter?  How can we encourage children to be innovative thinkers?  These questions were given thoughtful consideration at DuPage Children's Museum (DCM) Innovation Summit held in Meiley-Swallow Hall on the North Central College campus early last month.    

DCM's Farming for Fuels program
Rich Faron of Museum Explorer and project manager on one of DCM’s newest exhibits, AWEsome Energy, stated that innovation is “grown from the very beginning” and that an essential part of an innovation—engendering culture is the opportunity to “try things out over and over again, incrementally moving things forward.”

Innovation matters because, as panelists at the summit stated, “It is important for children to learn that taking risks is all right.” When it comes to being innovative, taking risks for younger children might mean being encouraged to make a prediction rather than saying, “I don’t know.” For older children this may mean encouraging them to focus on their interests—even if it is out of the ordinary. 

In her blog, Play. Fight. Repeat., Dr. Suzita Cochran writes about Encouraging Innovation and Ingenuity—especially as it relates to following the interest of the child.  Dr. Cochran offers some valuable literature resources that touch on innovation, including Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future and Why Not? How to Use Everyday Ingenuity to Solve Problems Big and Small by Barry Nalebuff and Ian Ayres.

At DCM, our mission speaks to innovation. We stimulate curiosity, creativity, thinking and problem-solving through:
·         Self-directed, open-ended experiences
·         Integration of the arts, science and math
·         The child-adult partnership

Come by for innovative experience today! 

Additional resources:

Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World by Tony Wagner

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