Children’s Innovation Project embraces innovation as finding something new inside something known. This frame for innovation allows a slow space for children to find small, authentic discoveries and reflect on themselves in relation to the materials they explore. An approach of technology as raw material further supports children’s innovation as it nudges children to work deeply at the grain of technology as they explore with Circuit Blocks, electronic toys, other devices and components. We don’t attach value to technology itself, and we approach technology as a means to learning, not an end. Through a focus on the language-logic systems of technology, children gain access to the thinking of technology, instead of just using the stuff of technology. This access to thinking is supported by teachers who, inside this approach to innovation and technology, also have an opportunity to slow down so they may notice closely processes of children’s thinking. As children explore with a focus on process, not product, children have time to practice habits of mind to notice, wonder and persist and thus begin to embody these habits as internalized sensibilities for their own learning. Children’s Innovation Project supports learning that is interdisciplinary, driven by creative inquiry and aware of the importance of context. Our primary motivation is learning about learning— student learning, teacher learning and community learning. In this way, we seek to shift current educational conversations about making and innovation so educators and policy makers might focus more on supporting processes of thinking and less on technology products.
Children's Innovation Project has been in development as a project at Pittsburgh Allegheny K-5 (Pittsburgh Public Schools) since 2010. Pilot funding for the project came from SPARK, a program of The Sprout Fund. Project partners include Pittsburgh Public Schools, Carnegie Mellon University's CREATE Lab, ASSET STEM Education, The Fred Rogers Center at St. Vincent College, Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children, Clarion University of PA, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, among others. Children’s Innovation Project is a member of the Remake Learning Network.
Children's Innovation Project is generously supported by Pittsburgh's foundation community. The Grable Foundation supports child and teacher learning at Pittsburgh Allegheny K-5 and other Pittsburgh Public Schools, including program evaluation and development with the Fred Rogers Center. Heinz Endowments supports the development of classroom materials and educational supports for both in school and out of school communities (through PAEYC and ASSET).
You can support Children's Innovation Project, and obtain some tools to teach a young person, or yourself, using the materials and methods we've developed, by purchasing a set of Circuit Blocks at our Learning Store.
If you are interested in learning with our project and participating as a Teaching Fellow for the 2015-16 school year, please apply now.
To learn more about Children's Innovation Project, please contact us: