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S.O.L.V.E. Your Own Problems

Saving the World While attempting to sneak into a top security U.S. research facility, Angus MacGyver first had to get past the front door and its attached security keypad. But how was he to see which numbers were being pressed, and in which order, without surrendering his secure hidden position in the back of a cargo truck 200 feet away? The answer was simple, or at least it was simple to MacGyver, all he needed was the sports section of the newspaper, a mag light and his watch, all conveniently located in the back of the truck he currently inhabited.

With a few simple twists, MacGyver removed the magnifying lens from the mag light. A moment later, he popped the watch crystal off the front of his watch and rolled the sports section into a conical tube. After placing the watch crystal at the narrow end of the tube, and carefully nestling the larger magnifying lens at the opposite end, he had himself a homemade telescope. All that was required now was to wait for someone to enter the …
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Getting Creative at LLI Mississippi

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of talking about creativity at the LLI Mississippi conference in Madison, Mississippi. I presented in a "fishbowl" format, meaning that I taught a lesson to 14 high school freshmen, as a group of 20 teachers observed from the outskirts of the room. This format is supposed to provide an "everyday" setting to a session.

My talk was entitled "Creativity Exercises That Build Connections" and we began by broadening the definition of "creativity" to include many different types of creativity, and thus a much wider range of people. We played "FUNctionality" and the "Why? Game". The students did a fantastic job of engaging and being fearless and creative with their answers. I think everyone had fun, even the teachers observing, as shown by the photo below.

Encore Presentation I guess the lesson went well because I was asked to present the same talk the following day, but this time with the tea…

Brainstorm Bully

Ladies and gentlemen I'd like to talk to you about a very serious issue in our classrooms and offices today -- bullying, and how it affects brainstorming sessions.

"You can't do this.", "That's terrible.", "That will never work.", "You're a failure.", "Just quit now.", "You'll never get this done.", "That's the dumbest idea ever!", "That's so stupid!". Phrases like these are heard every day during ideation and brainstorming sessions. They're mean, hurtful things and are never productive toward accomplishing goals. They tear down confidence and crush any opportunity for true creativity. People become afraid to toss out ideas. Sometimes it gets so bad they shut down and become afraid to speak out at all.

This is what happens when creative bullies are allowed into a brainstorming session.

One easy solution would be just to "not invite the bully" to the session at all.…

Your Creative Space

If you needed to repair a car, where would you choose to do it? In the living room? The kitchen? The bathroom? Probably not. You'd most likely head to the garage. After all, it's where your tools are located. It's where your nuts, bolts, and, if you're like my dad, all those "extra car pieces" are. If you're lucky, you may even find a repair manual or two.
Wouldn't it make sense, that the best place to be creative, would be in a place specifically designed for the task? To be clear, I'm not proposing that any single location will guarantee creativity, as much as I wish people could be creative on demand, in my experience -- sometimes it's just not there. What I am recommending is that you design a space that inspires and enhances creativity as much as possible, while at the same time removing any anti-creative elements.

In this post we'll take a look at designing your own 21st century "creative space", whether it's in your cl…

FUNctionality! - See Things DIfferently

Educators, if you're looking for a quick, fun game for your class that also serves to help everyone see things differently, more creatively, then try this "FUNctionality" activity.

This is a game I developed with the help of my students the latter part of the year. It's been through a few iterations already and I present it in its most recent, and balanced, version.

Before we begin, let me ask you this, how could you use the object in the image shown below?
For most people, a single purpose comes to mind and I'll go out on a limb and assume that I don't have to describe it. However, for students playing our game, this object spawned a wide range of uses that included, cleaning up spills, writing messages, drawing circles, dressing up as a mummy, measuring the length of something and stuffing a pillow or stuffed animal.
The Setup This little game doesn't take much, just literally the things you have around your classroom, and a stopwatch (you can use your …

Genius Hour: "Presentation Week"

This is it, week 9 -- "Presentation Week" for Genius Hour! Students have spent the past 8 weeks learning and creating things they are passionate about. They've watched YouTube videos, followed countless tutorials and experimented on their own. They've witnessed amazing successes and spectacular failures, learning invaluable lessons from both.

So, without further delay, let's get to the good stuff: the students. In the end, there were so many amazing presentations about such a diverse range of topics that there's no way I could cover them all. Instead, let's review some of the more unique projects, the surprises, and the "big wins".
Three, Two, One...ACTION! To kick things off, I'll once again defer to the students and let them tell you about Genius Hour in their own words. Zack wanted to learn about cinematography so he decided to create a video about...well...Genius Hour.


He learned how to operate his personal camera better when shooting vi…

Genius Hour: Week 8 - "The Final Stretch"

The weeks are counting down and we're nearly at the end of our first Genius Hour period. Students are putting last minute touches on songs and poems. They're polishing book layouts in Adobe inDesign, furnishing virtual houses in SketchUp, and they're practicing their dance moves. As we wrap up week 8 of Genius Hour there a few special things to note.
Juniors are BACK! First, is that our juniors have just returned from their nearly 2 week long professional internships with companies and organizations around the area. I was dying to circle up and hear about those experiences, but they already lost time last week and I wanted to give them as much time as they had available. I was also aware they spent a couple of hours debriefing earlier that morning.
Spring Is Here Next week is Spring Break! Most students will use that time to take trips, visit theme parks, and relax, but I have heard mention from several students or groups that they still have a little work and practice to …