At BOP we have the pleasure of working with young people around the world that are looking to innovate, create, and invent. A great example of this is in our Oracle Innovators Hackathon that saw high school students working with industry leaders to use their STEM skills as they found new uses for pieces of leading industry technology.
After working with these amazing young innovators, we wanted to create this post to help you at home engage your young innovators. Here are some of our top tips:
When young people embrace their creativity, they begin to think in different ways. They learn adaptability, to move with ideas, and create new ones. This makes them better problem solvers and able to deal with uncertainty. This is an incredibly valuable skill for future employment and a way to engage and involve young innovators. Creativity can come from a number of projects; from writing a story to painting, app or game design to creating an avatar. Programs like TinkerCAD make it easy for kids to get 3D creating, while Scratch Jnr has them block coding from early years!
Young innovators are naturally curious, but need guidance to become creative thinkers. They benefit from being set creative challenges, where out of the box thinking is valued and 'failure' is celebrated.
Watch her thought-provoking TED Talk
Why You Should Make Useless Things
A key to unlocking creative thinking is encouraging the young innovator to engage and explore their imagination. Between creativity and imagination sits visualisation. Visualisation is a powerful tool and is a skill that doesn’t always come naturally. When you learn to read, imagination leads to better comprehension. But what if you don’t learn to imagine from an early age? It is assumed that imagination is inherent, really it needs nurturing and young people need the chance to practise.
The good news is activities do not require elaborate set-ups!
As adults, it is easy to get caught up in only what is seen. However, even the trip to the store can become an adventure that involves imagination if you allow it - the floor is lava anyone?
3. Critical Thinking
Like a lot of people, young innovators enjoy knowing why something happens. It can be very tempting to give our kids all the answers. But when we do this, they lose out on the productive struggle that helps them grow their critical thinking skills.
A really simple way to engage young innovators in critical thinking is to return the question.
Ask them why they think something happens, let them explore the possibilities - whether right or wrong. When you encourage relevant critical thinking they learn and become engaged, because it has meaning to them. Competitions like CSIRO's Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge or the robotics First LEGO League, value critical thinking, among other 21st century skills. Another way you can help build critical thinking skills is to get your young innovator to explain their thinking. This will also improve the way they express their ideas, as people often get a lot from teaching someone else.
4. Seek Opportunities
There is a multitude of opportunities for young innovators, if you only know to look. Many companies offer challenges and competitions for young people to showcase their talent, share their ideas across a broad range of areas. From story writing to photography, space centre design to crystal growing, there is something for every young innovator. Sites like Study Work Grow and Aussie Educator collect lists of competitions and are a good place to start. Another opportunity is attending workshops that embrace 21st century skills and help engage your young innovator.
If you're looking for more ways to inspire and engage young innovators in your classroom, make sure to have a look at our Free Resources to access some activities. Alternatively, have a look at our School Incursions page to see how you can get us into your classroom.