Innovate This Water Bottle: Narrow the Focus to Foster Innovation in the Classroom
I get emails all the time from teachers that are struggling to foster innovation, creativity in the classroom. Many students (past third grade according to the data) are starting to decline in creativity and seemed to be conditioned to sit and wait for instructions so they can create THE answer. This is usually the opposite of innovation. In fact, more and more teachers are understanding that THE skill we need to promote is innovation and creativity.
So when a teacher wants her students to “get creative,” for a Genius Hour project, what does she do?
She narrows the focus.
To get students “out of the rut” of waiting around for direct instruction, it is best to have some fun warm-up activities, which can focus on ONE common item.
Take, for example, this water bottle:
It’s a simple, basic water bottle. Ask the students to:
- Improve the water bottle. Does it need to change color on temperature? Should it have a better handle? Should there be a purifier built into it?
- Transform the water bottle into something else. Could it be filled with water, frozen, then transformed into a cold compress? Could it be used as a self-defense weapon? Could it contain something else than liquids?
- Disrupt. Come up with an invention that would disrupt the water bottle industry.
- Collect/Connect. Collect some ideas on other random household items to connect the water bottle. A water bottle and spoon… or bottle and a clock. A water bottle and a vacuum??? The stranger the two items the more creative they must be. If you REALLY want to get crazy creative, combine THREE items into one invention/idea. (Hmmm water bottle/vacuum/air purifier). You get my point.
As you can see, the ideas are endless… by constraining the students (or adults) to ONE simple item. Students so often get overwhelmed with the word “innovation” that their worries are often consumed with “what is innovative” thoughts. By narrowing their focus down to a simple item, their imagination runs wild… and that imagination ramps up to creativity… which leads to new innovation insights. A simple but AWESOME game that goes through this very similar process is “Disruptus.” It is a stand-by game for my classroom when we need a “creativity boost.”
Next month we (StartEdUp) are launching some fun “assignments” to ANY class that wants to innovate common problems. Then in November we have a BIG announcement that you’ll want to be a part of- I promise it will bond your class with your local community.
If you want more information, please head to: www.startedupinnovation.com. Or check out our Facebook group community where we talk GeniusHour/ 20% Time/ Innovation/ Entrepreneurship We post DAILY VIDEOS from the classroom! You can also email me at: email@example.com or my student co-founder Hunter at: firstname.lastname@example.org. We can set you up for our next challenge- no matter if you teach elementary, middle, or high school.