It’s no secret that innovation is on our minds. As we pursue the conversation, timely and relevant material keeps coming our way. The idea of innovation fits perfectly with our staff’s growing interest in incorporating more of the STEM activities (science, technology, engineering and math) into the curriculum at all levels. We’re devoting this year to taking a close look at our current practices and reflecting on how we can adjust the curriculum to add depth and meaning to all of our students’ learning. Always we keep in mind what is best practice for children. John Dewey, one of America’s greatest educational reformers, once said, “ The school must represent present life — life as real and vital to the child as that which he carries on in the home, in the neighborhood, or on the playground.” We take this idea seriously as we balance out the twin responsibilities of giving children a full childhood and at the same time ensuring that they are prepared to meet their futures academically, socially and emotionally.
Our work with innovation has brought us to the idea of “makers,” a term that has been furthered by the work of Dale Dougherty (http://www.ted.com/talks/dale_dougherty_we_are_makers). Dougherty explains that America was built by makers, and making, fueled by curiosity, inspires innovation. This is not a new idea to the Seed, having been makers throughout our careers, both on the teacher and student level. STEM education is filled with endless invitations for children to be makers. Already this year children have tested out their creative hypotheses with everything from tin foil and pipe cleaners to index cards with a small amount of tape. What’s equally exciting is that STEM is now evolving into STEAM, adding in the arts. This works for the Seed, giving our artists free range as engineers. Angelo Patri, in Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering and Engineering in the Classroom, said, “Playrooms and games, animals and plants, wood and nails must take their place side-by-side with books and words.” The power of this blending is immense.
You’ll have a first-hand exposure to our artist-engineers next Thursday when we bring out the dyes for the Seed’s annual Tie Dye and Tile Painting Day. One of the school’s most popular events, children and parents will make beautiful art in a big way as they twist and tie rubber bands, marbles and other small objects into a shirt. Color blending will follow, bringing science into the picture. Each artist will leave for the day with a surprise in a bag. On Monday morning, an array of colorful new shirts will fill the Seed’s hallway. It will be a celebration of makers, a splash of color, a burst of inspiration for all the world to see.