City X at the Children’s Creativity Museum

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The City X Project focuses on kids, creativity, and empowerment. It was a natural fit for us to partner with The Children’s Creativity Museum, an interactive art and technology museum for kids located in downtown San Francisco, to run a portion of our City X Project workshop. The Creativity Museum says this about themselves:

We envision a world where creativitycollaboration and communication inspire new ideas and innovative solutions. We believe that the success of the next generation will hinge not only on what they know, but also on their ability to think and act creatively as global citizens.

Yes, yes, and yes!

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Here at City X, we love the Creativity Museum. I’ve been spending some time there over the past few weeks learning about their design programming and running small test workshops for City X. One of their tenets is that creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum. They’re not kidding about that, and they’ve been truly wonderful to collaborate with.

A couple weeks ago Brent, a colleague from HacKidemia, and I sat in on one of the museum’s design field trips with a class of second graders. The facilitator walked students through the design process using a very similar framework to City X’s December workshops. Later in the week I met with Heather, the developer of that program. Her focus is to unlock creativity and encourage divergent thinking by introducing kids to the design process. She emphasizes brainstorming, prototyping, user feedback, and pitches (recorded with flipcams) in her workshops. Like us, she’s had difficulty implementing the empathy and definition steps of the design process with young kids. (Tips? We’d love to hear about it!) On Saturday I set up in the museum’s annex with some iPads and ran two short workshops to begin testing the City X story.

A few lessons learned:

  • Save the technology for last. 3D printers are awesome. So awesome, in fact, that when introduced first it’s hard for kids to pay attention to anything else.
  • “User feedback” is often best implemented with adult volunteers unless the kids can be given specific questions to ask each other.
  • 123D Design – the modeling app we use with the kids – is more finicky on an iPad than it is in the browser. It froze several times. Further, the regular iPad and iPad mini interfaces are slightly different. Overall, however, the process was slick.
  • 8-year-olds can type on an iPad at the same speed and with more accurate spelling than they can write by hand.
  • Prototyping with clay is always one of the most fun activities we do.
Raphael designing a "mini sun" to keep the citizens of City X warm in their ship.

Raphael designing a “mini sun” to keep the citizens of City X warm in their ship.

Basic workshop materials.

Basic workshop materials.

Just for us, the museum even hung this cool spaceship they had from the ceiling to inspire the kids!

Just for us, the museum even hung this cool spaceship they had from the ceiling to inspire the kids!

Another big thanks to the Children’s Creativity Museum for being so open and helpful! City X looks forward to collaborating with you again soon.

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