Innovation is the very essence of the American spirit, requiring a combination of effective inquiry, problem-solving, and creative thinking skills, mixed with the curiosity and perseverance for seeking viable solutions to problems. While all children have creative potential, often their innovative behaviors thrive and endure only if supported and nurtured.
With today’s emphasis in schools on rigid curricula, standards, and testing, it becomes increasingly unlikely that many students will stretch their imaginations, act on their curiosity to seek answers to questions that go beyond the curriculum, or allow themselves to explore perplexing issues that pique their interest. So, what causes some children and adults to be curious, explore, and develop and maintain a desire to invent new ways of doing things that help themselves and others? That is the fundamental question behind this line of research and development.
Through a series of grants from the Kauffman Foundation and IMLS, we have studied the processes (both thought and actions) used by child and adult inventors with emphasis on what motivates their thinking and actions, the barriers to success they face, and the factors that increase their persistence and sustain their motivation to invent. Much of our focus has been on children (K-8) with plans to expand to high school and college age youth.
For more information about this project, please visit our project website where you’ll find a searchable video database of interviews with young inventors nationwide, mentor training for librarians or teachers who wish to mentor the young innovators in their schools and much more.
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