Innovation: How do we encourage innovative thinking in our children?

by Alison Price, Executive Director

“The greatest invention in the world is the mind of a child.” – Thomas Edison

Webster’s Dictionary has a simple definition for innovation–creating something new.

Busy Brains Children’s Museum not only IS an innovation for Lake County, IL, but also encourages innovative thinking with our exhibits.

One of our traveling exhibits, the Bernoulli Box, uses air pressure to keep balloons and ping-pong balls aloft. Children often place a balloon in the air stream to have it go out of reach….and then must figure out how to get it back down. I love asking, “How can you get it down?” and seeing their brains get “busy.”

Encouraging innovation in our children is hard. Children begin life by asking tons of questions about the world….to the point that we as parents can get tired of answering those questions. But by the time kids reach 4th grade, they know it is more important to answer questions than to ask thoughtful questions.

Here are some ways that Busy Brains plans to encourage innovation at our permanent site:

PLAY: Children learn best when they are having fun. In play, children are encouraged to think creatively and are more likely to take chances.

CURIOSITY: Programs that allow children time to play, observe, and explore materials in an open-ended fashion, with no benchmarks or standards for their learning, encourage students to “dig deeper” into the concepts they love.

PASSION: Letting children choose the gallery they wish to explore and allowing the time to fully “be” in that gallery will allow children to see that their interests are valued, and will help connect their thoughts to success.

FEARLESSNESS: There are no “right” answers in a children’s museum.  Freedom to do what you want, within reason, with the materials and exhibits allows children to take risks and problem solve.

Busy Brains Children’s Museum looks forward to encouraging the next generation of innovators. But for every inventor who comes up with a great new idea or design, there needs to be a large team of people working to develop and implement it. We would love to have you and your innovative thinking help us meet our mission, whether it’s sharing an idea, joining one of our committees or making a donation. Thank you, as always, for your support.

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