The Walt Disney Company and Centers for Research on Creativity joined together to see if the hypothesis held true that working on creative projects could actually boost a child’s overall creativity. The goal was to present students with tasks and challenges and encourage them to pursue these tasks using creative thinking and creative problem solving. They wanted to stretch the students’ creative thinking skills and to boost their motivation to accomplish these tasks creatively. The ultimate goal was to see if the students’ overall creative thinking levels had increased after experiencing the process of completing the project.
The sessions took place at The Creativity Lab at Inner-City Arts in California (2012). A class of 4th graders learned about and built things out of diverse materials in response to design challenges. They could choose to construct any of the following: A marble run coaster, a geometric structure (built from wire, bamboo, skewers, and wiffle balls), a wire sculpture, or a simple machine. It didn’t matter which project they chose. They were given a Creativity Assessment before they started their project and then again after their project was completed.
The assessment test done after the students completed the task showed large gains in their fluency of idea generation (ideas for novel uses of objects and the tendency of ideas to pop into students’ heads). They also showed large gains in inventiveness, self-belief that they were innately creative and an increase in their value of collaboration over the session.
You don’t need a Creativity Lab for your children to be able to work on these projects and gain that creativity boost; they can be done right at home as a Creative Mindflexor. My children worked on a “Marble Run Coaster” this past weekend. With a small rubber ball, items they collected around the house, and some duct tape, they set upon the task of creating their Ball Run. You could see the Creative Process at work as they first found the objects they wanted to use (parts of toys, a Cereal Dispenser, Cracker Box, paper towel roll, plastic cup, soda bottle); then you could see them think creatively as they decided how they wanted to design their “run”, and finally as they had to adjust and adapt their model to make the ball run smoothly from top to bottom.
As part of the study I mentioned above, the researchers pointed out how critical the “teacher’s”, or in our case “parent’s” role is in this process. While your children work on these projects, you want to:
1. Encourage your children to play with ideas; explore possible designs and solutions to problems as they proceed with the task.
2. When your child is having difficulty getting any part to work properly, instead of jumping in and showing them how to fix the problem, you should encourage them to continue to explore their own possible solutions.
A “Marbel Run” is a great at-home project that can help develop your child’s creative thought process and it’s fun to watch the end-result as well.