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 a collaborative project from its beginning in 2010, partnering with teachers at Pittsburgh Allegheny K-5 in Pittsburgh Public Schools and other organizations and people in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and throughout the US. Children’s Innovation Project is a member of the Remake Learning Network.
Currently, Children's Innovation Project is focused inside two main areas:
1- Support of teacher professional learning-- professional development facilitation and learning-site/school consultation to support a pedagogical approach that supports innovation as finding something new inside something known, with a focus on slowing down and deepening students' experiences inside their self-driven and sustained curiosities;
2- Production and sale of Circuit Blocks, which have been the primary learning materials of Children's Innovation Project since 2010 and were the cornerstone materials for the development of the ideas of the project. You may purchase sets of Circuit Blocks at our Learning Store.
Pilot funding for the project came in 2011 from SPARK, a previous program of The Sprout Fund. From 2011-2017, project partners included 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.
During this same timeframe (2011-2017), Children's Innovation Project was generously supported by Pittsburgh's foundation community. The Grable Foundation supported 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 supported the development of classroom materials and educational supports for both in-school and out- of-school communities.
To learn more about Children's Innovation Project, please contact us: