The Children’s Innovation Project – Building Blocks of Learning
This month WQED Multimedia’s Learning Innovation initiative highlights the “Children’s Innovation Project.” This unique educational program began as collaboration between Pittsburgh Allegheny K-5 kindergarten teacher Melissa Butler and Jeremy Boyle, a resident artist with CMU’s CREATE Lab. The two wanted to engage young children in broad critical learning with a focus on exploration, expression and innovation with technology.
The project began in Melissa’s kindergarten class in 2010. Melissa and Jeremy created simple components -- at first, elementary circuit blocks -- that these very young students could use to learn about electricity and circuitry. With these components the children learn to make connections to objects in their own world, by exploring the insides of their toys and common household items like radios, telephones and small computers. In taking both simple and complex technological devices apart and reconfiguring them into something new, they also develop their skills in vocabulary, writing, art, mathematics and social studies.
According to Jeremy, “We’re very interested in thinking about having an active relationship with technology, rather than just passive.” Adds Melissa: “As a project of the CREATE Lab, we’re interested in technological fluency much beyond technological literacy. We want active engagement, having children understand how technology works and how they can be creators of technology, not just users of it.”
Pilot funding for the project came from SPARK, a program of The Sprout Fund. But the project has really taken off: partners now include Carlow University School of Education, whose graduate students regularly observe and participate; ASSET STEM Education, The Fred Rogers Center at St. Vincent College, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, and others. Children’s Innovation Project is part of the Kids+Creativity network.
“We work with children to think about their habits of learning, and we work with teachers to think about their practices of teaching and learning, and so the project has become a partnership with many people in Pittsburgh who are thinking about what technology means and what learning means,” Melissa explains.
“Children will be likely to become engineers from the work here, but they’re just as likely to become a philosopher, a writer, an artist, anything,” Jeremy adds.
To learn more about the Children’s Innovation Project: info@CIPPGH.org
Media partnership welcomes NEXTpittsburgh
Joining WQED Multimedia, 90.5 WESA and Pittsburgh Magazine in our “Spotlight on Learning Innovation” is NEXTpittsburgh, a new online magazine about the people, projects and ideas taking Pittsburgh to the next level.
“Our goal is to discover what’s next, who’s leading the charge and where we’re all headed,” said Tracy Certo, founder, publisher and editor. NEXTpittsburgh offers feature stories and news about business and technology, city design, arts and culture, and kids and families.
The four media outlets, TV, radio, magazine and online magazine, are working together to focus on Pittsburgh leadership in the international movement to “remake learning” and create educational opportunities designed for our times.
Made possible through a grant from the Grable Foundation, Learning Innovation focuses on the Pittsburgh region's need to prepare its young people for college and the work force by building on the basics and connecting students with hands-on learning experiences that develop relevant skills.
Assemble provides opportunities for neighborhood children to look, learn, and make in an informal educational environment during monthly Learning Parties.
Cameron Mitchell is eager to ask a question during his interview with Aaron Johnson at McKeesport City Hall, as part of the Crossing Fences program. Photograph SLB Radio Productions, Inc.
GEMS, an afterschool program that provides workshops for girls in grades 6-8 coordinated through the Carnegie Science Center, recently brought the students to see how the brain works. They visited the UPMC Brain Mapping Center.
At Highlands High School, the students in Vicki Uhrinek’s Physics class created a hovercraft that floated around the commons area.
Schell Games, a local gaming company that produces educational materials and innovative experiences, recently collaborated on a program with assemble in Garfield.
The Ellis Geek Squad – a team of Upper School students with a mission to give tech advice and do other “innovative things,” serve as mentors to students – and teachers.
The Highlands High School Bots IQ team assemble the final parts of their robot to prepare for a recent competition.
Students in the Mars Area Middle School 8th grade created a monument similar to Mt. Rushmore for the opening of the new Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture featuring famous African American figures.
Children recording in SLB's studios in the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. Photos courtesy SLB Radio Productions, Inc.
These kids create Mother's Day Audio Cards in SLB's studios. Photo courtesy SLB Radio.
Spread The News
Do you have a story of learning innovation? A program, teacher or parent who is making a difference? Tell us about it and we’ll share it on our Learning Innovation webpage. Submit stories and videos to email@example.com!