Tick. Tick. Tick.

You have three minutes to radically change the way we give and receive gifts. Go!

Sounds hard, right? Maybe for an adult. NASA has a test that measures innovative potential – when they administered the test to 1,600 five-year-olds, 98% had scores that indicated genius level creativity. The test was readministered when the 1,600 participants were adults and a scant 2% registered as genius level creatives. (pp. 23-4). What happened to all the geniuses? It seems we’re all born creative – it’s just slowly selected out of us. The natural creativity of youth was never more apparent to me than during FLY’s Art of Toymaking camp at Eastern Michigan University.  

Two weeks ago, kids from Mill Creek Middle School ceased being students and instead became designers. For these Dexterites, the delightful design process began with Stanford School of Design’s crash course in design thinking. Here students empathize with a partner – understanding the emotions and stories behind their last gift giving experience. Using these clues they define a problem their partner experienced during the giving process. By creating prototypes and getting feedback from their partners, the young designers were able to solve these problems in innovative ways. Once the foundation of design thinking was laid, kids turned their new knowledge of design to solving problems for cats of course.

Our workshop was a flurry of researching, drawing, and building as young designers created artisanal cat toys for feral cats taken in by the Humane Society of Huron Valley. Not only did this group create toys that had a real, measurable impact on the lives of homeless felines, they sharpened critical thinking skills – learning to identify problems and then create solutions in novel, imaginative ways! When a final, tangible result was seen, a barrier was broken for many of these young designers – their artistic creativity was valuable; their artistic creativity will make a difference!

To see a room full of young, innovative minds all working towards a common, compassionate goal was a rejuvenating experience – one I highly recommend. Drop us a line If you want take part in building your community’s creative capacity, inspire youth to invent, and celebrate art!