Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Kitty City: The Cat's Meow In Teaching Innovation

I've been thinking a lot lately about fostering innovation in the classroom. I want to allow my class to have more chances to think and create and build and of new ideas next year. In my mind it goes beyond tinkering and the Maker Movement though. It's performance art pieces inspired by Improv Everywhere, or an augmented reality comic book, or a song created in GarageBand that tells a story of a lion hunting a gazelle.
I'm not giving my students a soldering iron, Gary.

We have a "Technology Fair" each year in 4th grade. In the past it was a showcase where students could discuss a research project on a particular technology. That technology could be a drone, or artificial limbs, or ice cream, or whatever. The students set up their displays, like a science fair, and parents would walk around and talk to them about their project. Last year the kids showed off an innovation project as well.

Now imagine that space in the video above filled with tiny buildings and parks. And those tiny buildings were filled with cats.
Or hamsters.
                        Or snakes.
If you build it, He will come

One of the coolest collaborative projects I've seen is "Kitty City". A group of students, artists, and urban planners came together to figure out what would make a good model city for cats. The videos below show "Kitty City" in two parts. The first part focuses on making Kitty City. The second part shows cats trying it out. Both videos are just 2 minutes long.

Part 1: Making Kitty City

Part 2: Showcasing Kitty City

The project was created by Flux Factory in New York City, an organization that specializes in collaborative innovation projects.

So what if our space could be split up based on the student's passion and turned into a carnival?

Step right up! 
In this corner we have a flock of lads and lassies who will show you how to make a squishy circuit
In this corner this fine collection of youngsters will show you their Makey Makey Invention Kits
Center stage features a collection of performance art scenes video taped around the school throughout the year. And please don't mind the locals hissing and peeing on their new homes.

I think that'd be awesome.

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