Tie Dye Ta-Da – using fruits and veggies

The Saturday morning farmer’s markets are in full gear.  The sweet summer air, the rambunctious rainstorms and warm toasty sun have nurtured a bounty of lovely vegetables and fruits for human consumption.  But guess what, they can be used for a number of other things besides filling your belly, one of them being a dye for clothing.  

There will be some decisions you need to make because there are a number of designs and of course, vegetables and fruits to choose from.  But first off, gather the materials you will need to do this cool functional project. Of course, in order to tie-dye a t-shirt you will need a shirt (duh, I know, but can’t forget the basics). It is recommended that you wash the t-shirt before dying to remove any chemicals that it was treated with to prevent stains.

Then gather: 

  • heavy duty rubber bands
  • circular objects (balls, marbles, rocks) 
  • fruits and veggies like beets, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, cabbage, onion skins, the spice turmeric, and even herbs like mint or parsley (organic foods make great dyes and are good for the environment too)
  • salt
  • last but not least, vinegar

Here is a list of the fruits and veggies to help you decide which fruits and vegetables you will need.

  • Beets- fuchsia
  • Beet greens – green
  • Raspberries / strawberries – red/pink
  • Blueberries – blue
  • Green cabbage – light green
  • Red cabbage – purplish pink
  • Onion skins – yellowish brown
  • Spinach – green
  • Turmeric – yellow/orange

You will want to decide on your pattern next.  Here are a few ideas, but frankly, don’t be afraid to create your own one-of-a-kind original work of functional art!  The directions for the following designs might just get those creative juices flowing. 

Starburst

To make the circular pattern you often see in tie dye, you will put a round object in the center of your shirt.  It can be a tennis ball, a rock, or even a marble. Wrap the t-shirt around the object and tightly put a rubber band around the t-shirt.  Then like the one before, add rubber bands every one to two inches all the way down to the end of the t-shirt. 

Stripes

If circles aren’t your thing, then you can make a more linear pattern by putting rubber bands in a line all the way down the shirt.  Don’t forget the sleeves. You can also achieve big stripes by tying knots all the way down the shirt. These lines will be much less uniform than if you used the rubber bands.  

Circles

To make a shirt with a number of circles you will put a round object in the center of part your shirt.  It can be a tennis ball, a rock, or even a marble. Wrap the t-shirt around the object and tightly put a rubber band around the t-shirt.  Then add more round objects all around the shirt, securing each one with a wide, heavy duty rubber band.  

Choosing your fruits and vegetables may be a tough decision.  If cost is an issue, then red cabbage and beets are a great choice.  If you have ever cut open a beet, you know that its juices are a beautiful bright fuchsia and boy does it do its job to stain things that color.  If you want a lush green instead, use spinach.

The standard formula for the special sauce that will change your bland white Hanes t-shirt into a work of art is 1/2 -1 cup chopped fruit/vegetable (depending on the intensity of color you want) for every 2 cups of water.  For a large child-sized shirt you will need approximately 8 cups of water. Then add two cups of vinegar and ½ cup of salt. These ingredients help to set the color so it doesn’t bleed and fade.

Boil your water and fruits/vegetables for approximately 1 – 2 hours to get the natural dye out of the fruit.  The longer you simmer your fruits/veggies, the more intense the color will become. Strain the water to remove the food.

It’s time to DYE! Place your fabric into containers with the dye, or add your dye to squirt bottles and squirt the dye onto the fabric directly. 

Rinse in the sink, and then run it through the rinse cycle of your washing machine.

Ta-da, your own very organic, amazing, totally terrific, most beet-ific original masterpiece that you can wear on the first day of school! 

DIY: Your Own Crossword Puzzle

Need something fun and engaging for your children during those hot days of summer?  Have them create an “all about me” crossword! Not only will you be able to catch up on work, but you can have fun trying to complete their puzzles. You might even learn something new about them.  Who knows, when you get your big work project completed, your beach towels washed, and the mowing caught up, you might want to create one yourself.  

There are a number of cool sites where your children can go to create their puzzles electronically:

Crossword Hobbiest
Puzzle-Maker.com
Tools for Educators
Crossword Maker

If you want it to be a more authentic (and time-consuming process) and more of a puzzle to create a puzzle, you can print out a free crossword template, and then give your kids these directions:

  1. Make a list of clues/hints
  2. Create the list of answers
  3. Using the answers, start placing them in pencil on the crossword grid and give them a number (don’t forget to number the clue as well) interlocking them with previous words if you can. Try to make a somewhat even number of across and down.
  4. Outline the words with a dark box.
  5. Now create a carbon copy on an empty template, and of course, don’t write in the words. 
  6. Optional: Shade in any boxes that are unused.
  7. Make copies so everyone in the family can solve your puzzle.

Here is a list of possible clues that you and your children can use to get started.  They are sure to get your creative juices flowing.  

  • Nickname
  • Favorite food
  • Favorite holiday
  • Last book read
  • Favorite invention
  • Movie favorite
  • Famous idol
  • Game I most like to play
  • Where I want to go most
  • Favorite beach activity
  • What I love most about summer
  • My least favorite chore
  • Best friend
  • Worst enemy
  • Favorite subject
  • Hardest subject
  • Dream job
  • Job I would hate
  • Favorite soda
  • Favorite pizza topping
  • Favorite candy
  • Favorite ice cream
  • What makes me cry
  • What makes me laugh
  • Fave mode of transportation
  • Fave musician
  • Fave sci-fi movie

Enjoy this ‘stay at home’ activity, and if you get a crossword craze going on in your household, they can have a go at some of the fun science crosswords at whenwecrosswords.com!

Nine Must See Colorado Museums

Museums are an amazing opportunity to have family time, to learn and to have a blast all at the same time. You know about the big well-knowns like the Denver Museum of Nature and History and the Denver Art Museum, but have you tried some of the other amazing museums around Colorado?

Museum of Boulder at Tebo Center offers a lot of hands on exhibits that are just perfect for the curious child.  It has a lot of everything for the inventor, scientist, naturalist and artist! They have an extensive display of old equipment, machinery, Olympic sports gear, x-ray machines, etc… where kids can see and experience the evolution of innovation.  Not to mention, there is an artsy side for budding painters and sculptors. And, if your child wants to participate in some fun summer camps like Comic Book Camp, this museum has those in spades, too. They are open every day except Tuesday, and a day full of fun and adventure is just $10 for adults and $8 for children.  

The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Arts is another local treasure.  Children can get their creative and imaginative juices flowing when they see and discuss the interesting and unique exhibits available.  A great discussion of what is art and how it is interpreted in many different ways can blossom when you visit this museum. Best part? It’s only $2 for adults and seniors and free for your youngsters that aren’t yet teens!  And, if your youngsters are feeling compelled to make some art, the museum has a “Young Artists at Work Summer Camp” as well.

Wings over the Rockies is a fantastically cool air and space museum located in Denver, Colorado.  This science, history, and technology filled museum is fun for all ages and was named one of the 20 best aviation museums around the world.  It has a Harrison Ford Theater where kids and adults alike can experience fighter pilots in training; how cool! It is open seven days a week for you to check out some of the coolest aviation technology ever created.  So, all you Amelia Earhart’s and Wright Brother wannabes, head on out! *STEAM FEST VENDOR*

After you’ve had your fill of aviation, take your next museum adventure at the Center for Colorado Women’s History, also known as the Byers-Evans House.  This museum is more geared towards an older crowd, so plan to take your teens to learn the history of women in Colorado and how those women’s stories connect to the history of women worldwide.  The museum is open five days a week.

If you have already made your rounds to these museums, there is the oldie but goodie Denver Children’s Museum with activities galore for your younger children or try something new with the Wow! World of Wonder Children’s Museum in Lafayette, Colorado.  The Forest of Light exhibit will have you and your children in sensory euphoria, and when you are done, your children can discover the properties of wind and air, create art projects from recycled materials, surround yourselves in a giant bubble, examine the physics of pulleys, and even dance and do yoga. *STEAM FEST VENDOR*

I have a soft spot for the mining industry (the best company I ever worked for was in the mining and metals industry) and I love the Western Museum of Mining & Industry in Colorado Springs. During your visit, see and learn about fully operational steam engines that powered the mining industry during the late 1800s, including a working hoist, “widow maker” pneumatic drill, and a 37 ton Corliss engine. Try your hand at panning for REAL gold with “Keep What you Find Gold Panning”, enjoy interactive hands-on displays, view exquisite and rare mineral samples and venture through a mock mine drift built exclusively for WMMI by Colorado School of Mines. They also have a STEAM Summer Camp in June (I think it’s next week).

If you get the chance, also try out the Colorado Railroad Museum and for sure, make time this summer for the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery with its 40,000 square foot space filled with interactive exhibits that allow visitors to explore the history of science. Oh, and the Colorado Model Railroad Museum in Greeley is completely amazing too – SciFi Day with Star Wars character meet and greets is in July.

It’s Spring: Get Your Science On!

Spring and summer mark the start of severe weather including tornadoes; they also mark the arrival of bees and butterflies.  Spring is a great time to enjoy the outdoors but a great time to learn! Children are fascinated (or terrified) by tornadoes; we all are somewhat.  So, why not help children face their fears and learn what a tornado is while making their own. While you’re at it, it would be beneficial to review how to stay safe when a tornado warning occurs.   It is also a great time to teach children about the importance of pollinators and how to help their populations grow while at the same time adding some charm and appeal to your garden. And the best part? You get to play in the dirt!

Be Like Dorothy Without Leaving Kansas: Make A Tornado In A Jar

Materials:

  • 8 ounce with a lid (pickle, mayonnaise, or canning jars are perfect.
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Food Coloring
  • Dish soap
  • (Old Glitter is Optional – and a lot of glitter isn’t environmentally friendly)
  1. Fill the jar with water leaving about an inch at the top.  
  2. Add a teaspoon of vinegar, dish soap, and glitter (optional). ***if the jar is bigger than 8 oz. try doubling the measurements, for example 16 oz. water to 2 tsp. of vinegar and soap.
  3. Add the lid and tighten.  
  4. Swirl the jar in a fast circular motion for 10 seconds.  Lay it down on the table and watch the tornado.

Discuss with children words like: vortex-a whirling mass (water, air) moving in a circular path and centipedal-a force that makes an element or object follow a curved circular path.  Share with children that a tornado is a column of air that is created when cold air meets warm air and that they typically appear out of cumulonimbus clouds. The really extreme tornadoes can have winds as high as 300 mph and can be bigger than two miles in diameter.

Tornado safety is important, so this would be a good time to discuss the family’s plan during a tornado warning.  Choose a spot in the interior of the home and explain to children that this is to avoid outside doors and windows.  You can also discuss the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.

Bees, Butterflies, and Dirt, Oh My!

Spring is an awesome time to talk about pollinators and the importance they have on our food sources.  Learn all about bees and butterflies, including: how they help the environment, how they help your family and how they can help the insect populations grow.  

Plants need pollinators as much as they need sunshine, dirt, and water, and pollinators, like bees and butterflies, need plants.  If plants like corn and other fruits and vegetables are going to produce more plants to feed people, the Earth needs lots of pollinators.  

Design a bee and butterfly garden and get planting!

Materials:

  • Seedlings or plants: salvia, bee balm, black-eyed Susans, penstemon, snap dragons, verbena, cleome, coreopsis, milkweed, echinacea, buttonbush and some herbs like fennel, dill, oregano, and parsley are great for caterpillars to feed on, raspberry bushes and vegetable plants
  • Potting Soil
  • Plant food (fertilizer)
  • Water
  1. Prepare an area for the plants.  Rake up the soil and add in some new potting/top soil and plant food.  
  2. Dig holes as big as the containers.
  3. Lay the plants in the holes.
  4. Surround the plants with extra soil and pat firmly.
  5. Water

Bees and butterflies are attracted to flowers.  Bees particularly like white and yellow flowers and butterflies like big areas of red and purple flowers.  With older children, make a map (plan) when things will bloom and for how long so that you have a combination of plants that will continually bloom all summer long.

Another great addition to your bee and butterfly garden is a bird bath where they can get a drink of water.  And if you want to take it a step further, do some research on creating insect nesting grounds where you can further encourage the growth of bee populations.

Spring is a great time to experiment, to be outdoors, to be immersed in nature, and best of all, to dig in the dirt, so get to it.

Kitchen Science – Easy Indoor Fun!

water, conservation, child, activities, science

A little water, ice cubes and some rock salt, and you can watch “instant ice” develop!

Turn Winter Couch Potatoes into Kitchen Wizards

Getting your kids off the couch and into the lab will be the hardest part of these fun and amazing kitchen projects. With some simple ingredients you can turn your child into a mad scientist whose amazement and wonder will make the mess a small price to pay. (FYI: these aren’t even that messy.)  

Instant Ice Experiment

Ask your child if they ever wondered how Frozone was able to make ice instantly.  When he or she yells a resounding, “YES!” Break out a little rock salt (you probably have that handy), ice cubes and a bottle of water.  Check out the video here for directions.

A simple butter sculpture – fun and easy.

 

Everything is Better with Butter

Put some sticks of butter in the freezer and then allow your child to carve fun shapes into them with a butter knife.  Google and Pinterest have a number of easy and more complex ideas that will get your children’s creative juices flowing! You can even have kids make their own butter and show how matter can change states from a liquid to a solid!  And once you have made butter, you might as well make some ice cream.  All it takes are a few ingredients, a couple coffee cans, ice and rock salt combined with some elbow grease and a little patience.

kitchen science, honey, bees

This experiment from Experimental Express will WOW your kitchen science team!

Kitchen Science Question: Is it Really Honey?

This experiment is pretty darn cool.  Take your child on a Bee research project – if the weather is OK, head to a local bee farm and let them see the bees in actions.  Crummy weather? Do a stay-at-home field trip and research on the internet to provide background for this kitchen experiment.  Once children understand how bees turn nectar into honey and where they store the honey, try this supertastic honey experiment from Experimental Express that is cooler than Hollywood special effects!  Can you tell which “honey” is real honey?

Color Explosion

Don’t worry, it isn’t as bad as it sounds!  Fill a cookie sheet with a shallow amount of milk.  Then have kids paint the milk by putting drops of food color into the milk (don’t stir).  Now take a q-tip and dip it in dish soap and then touch the milk then observe the fireworks (no actual fire, just color explosions).

Bounce off the Walls

When you kids are bouncing off the walls, why not make some bouncy balls.  This cool project will have your kids wild about science and kitchen creations as they watch a chemical reaction where liquids turn to solids.

Slime

It’s likely that you and your kids have made slime before, but if you haven’t, you absolutely need to.  If you have, there are so many different kinds to make that you should do it again.  A few ingredients create a mesmerizing substance that will have your kids playing for hours.

Summer Camp Strategy – Make the Best Summer Plans a Reality

Summer is Around the Corner (Really!)

summer camp, education, learning, science, parenting

Summer Camp can be an enriching experience filled with social emotional learning (and fun!)

With winter in full swing, it is hard to imagine warm weather and the end of school ever being a reality.  But, before we know it, the final bell for the last day of school will ring, and our kids will come running out with boundless energy.  As parents, we need to be prepared and have a summer plan.

Summer camps are a great way to keep our kids engaged and cared for while we work in the summers, but even more importantly, they give our children wonderful opportunities to explore their world, to grow socially and intellectually, and to get out their endless exuberance.  Because of those reasons, camps are in high demand. So, as with most things, it is the early bird that gets the worm (aka the best camps in the area).

Step 1: Brainstorm and make a summer camp list

Talk with your child about things that they would like to do this summer.  Think about your child’s interests.  There are camps for almost everything under the sun: cooking, art, film, Legos, science, you name it…

Also talk to your child about what kind of camps they are comfortable with.  Some children are independent and secure enough, not to mention mature enough, to want to try out some overnight camps.  Other children may think that sounds fun, but when it comes time to leave their home and family for a week, they may not be ready.  Consider doing a test run first.  If your child hasn’t been away to a friend’s for a couple nights, then they probably aren’t ready to leave everything they know and be gone for a week.

Step 2:  Research what summer camps are available

A basic Google search will give you a lot of options, but here are a few sites that might simplify your search.

  • The American Camp Association (ACA) is a database that filters the camp offerings across the nation.  There are 3717 camps/11,071 programs to choose from.  You can filter the choices by costs, duration, participants (including family or individuals), activities, affiliations, disabilities, and location.
  •  There are a number of camps that provide kids with amazing opportunities to explore science, technology, and engineering, including:  Colorado Stem Connect , CU Science Discovery Programs, ID Tech Camp at CU Boulder
  •  The Denver Post has an amazing supplemental insert that can be viewed online and that lists many of the camps available in Colorado.
  •  KidsCamp.com is a nationwide database that also allows parents to search by activities, dates, and locations.
  •  Denver YMCA also has a number of camps to choose from.  
  • Colorado Parent Magazine has a handy Summer Camp Guide filled with great information and links to innovative summer camps.

Once you have researched and found some camps that might be of interest to your child, then you should apply as soon as possible to secure your child’s spot. But before you do, make sure you create a calendar that outlines the summer.  Plug in time with grandparents, time with friends, and mark off the week after school gets out and before school starts to give your child some much-needed downtime.

Step 3 – Preparing your kids for summer camp

Camping List: Check to make sure your child has all the supplies they need for camp.  Read and reread the packing list.  If the camp doesn’t allow phone use, prepare your child.  If they can’t have electronics, keep them home.   Make sure that they have tried out any new equipment in order to test it and make sure it is comfortable and in working order before they head to camp.

No matter their age, Kids love a variety of summer activities.

Talk: Discuss with your child what the sleeping arrangements are going to be like.  Talk about showering and whether or not it is in a setting that is different from what they have experienced at school or at home.  Find out if they will be sleeping in a big room with 10 other kids or if they will be partnered up with someone.  The better you prepare them for anything unique they may experience the more likely they will be ready and enjoy their experience.  But don’t worry too much because part of the camp experience is learning to navigate new situations and helping your child build confidence.  They may fail, but they also have the supports to overcome any challenges.

Make a Plan: Have a homesickness plan!   Give your child some strategies for working through feelings of fear and sadness.  Encourage them to tell a counselor.  Counselors are trained to help children work through those feelings.  Encourage them to go talk to a new friend, make a new friend, or try an activity when they start to feel blue.  Help them redirect themselves with deep breaths and happy thoughts

Give Yourself a Pat on the Back:  You are providing your child with an unforgettable experience that will prepare them for the future!

 

Five Top MakerEd / EdTech Tools to Boost STEAM Education at Home!

MakerBolder wins EdTech Grant from Eduporium

MakerBolder was honored to receive Eduporium’s EdTech Grant to support our upcoming Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest.  You can read more about the Grant HERE.  We love the way Eduporium is supporting in-home and in-classroom STEAM Education (and you will, too!).  Below is an article from the Eduporium team that shines a light on awesome tools and toys that are both fun and educational.  Enjoy!

By Andy Larmand, Eduporium

 

The Eduporium team is on a mission to provide educators and innovative community leaders with technology that helps students develop crucial STEM skills through active learning and hands-on experiences. Eduporium also offers a monthly grant program, through which they award $500 worth of EdTech to deserving educational institutions and organizations.

MakerBolder was chosen as Eduporium’s January grant recipient and selected Ozobot robots to give out at their annual Rocky Mountain STEAM event! Ozobot’s are fantastic STEAM tools that allow children to take part in hands-on learning and help build a strong foundation of 21st century skills, including coding.

Check out some of the most popular MakerEd tools for enhancing STEAM education.

  • 3Doodler: This 3D printing pen combines some of the most exciting and important elements of STEAM education in engineering and 3D design. It is both a 3D printer and a pen meaning that kids can use it to draw objects in three dimensions! One of their pens is designed for students as young as 6 years old and the other is suitable for students in middle school and up. They are both completely safe for children and include various fun filaments for printing.
  • littleBits: These electronic modules snap together easily via their individual magnetic connection and each has a color-coded function.

    LittleBits tools can be pieced together in thousands of ways to give people of all ages the opportunity to “iterate” their EdTech creations!

    The different Bits include inputs, outputs, wires, power supplies, and more. As students build inventions with them, they learn that it’s not possible to have a functioning output without an input and it’s not possible to activate their circuits without power, eventually progressing to building circuits they can control with code.

  • MaKey MaKey: The MaKey MaKey uses the conductivity found within everyday objects and inside the human body to turn any conductive object into an interactive touchpad. Students can attach a conductive object to the MaKey MaKey board, “ground” themselves by holding one of the kit’s jumper wires in their hand, and activate the conductive object by touching it while holding the wire in their hand since they too are conductors of electricity!
  • MakeDo Packs: These maker-focused tools allow kids to invent and build with cardboard! Students can optimize their inventions with easy-to-use pieces, like reusable screws, tools, and saws, which are all plastic and enab

    MakeDo EdTech kits expand creative problem solving.

    le students to anchor cardboard construction projects. Each of MakeDo’s kits promote creative thinking and inventive problem solving in a fun way.
    KEVA Planks are small, rectangular wooden blocks kids can strategically use to build all sorts of structures. Not only are they able to be creative and design buildings and bridges, they also learn the fundamentals of engineering along the way. With KEVA, students are challenged to create sound structures that can support themselves, teaching them important design and engineering principles in the process.

To discover more MakerEd tools for enhancing engagement and inspiring learning by making, check out the Eduporium website or reach out to info@eduporium.com. And, be sure to encourage kids to use hands-on learning to unlock new levels of inventiveness, creativity, and ingenuity as they build future-ready skills!

Putting a Hammer to the Glass STEM Ceiling – Current Research on Girls in Science

explore the galaxy of hands-on science

Broadening Girls’ perspectives on STEM Careers helps them consider all options from an early age.

The glass ceiling is an invisible, but real barrier in many industries and especially in STEM related fields.  While more and more women are entering science, technology, engineering and mathematical fields, they still only make up a little over a fourth of the workforce.

According to the National Girls Collaborative, only 11% of physicists and astronomers are women while 17% of the civil, architectural, and sanitary engineers are female.  Female chemists make up 35% of the field. The most notable gap in the gender workforce is in the computer and high tech industries. According to Catalyst

Dr. Cathy Olkin from the Southwest Research Institute, is a leading Planetary Scientist and an advocate for girls in STEM Careers.

.org whose mission it is to accelerate growth for women in the workplace, women make up only one-fifth of the job force in that industry.  Also concerning, the women who do work in these fields make 20% less on average in the same role as men. But as a whole, women who work in STEM industries receive a much higher wage than working in other areas.

What does it all mean for Girls in Science?

It means that a growth mindset needs to be embraced by all parties: parents of girls, educators, employers and industries.  More women in the STEM workforce allows companies and industries to develop in ways that don’t just help 50% of the population and increases their relevance to a much larger market.

In a ForbesWoman article, Moira Forbes asks female professionals prolific in their STEM fields of biomolecular and computer engineering, how to narrow the gap. Solutions include educating girls that they don’t have to be Einstein mathematically in order to be successful in a number of STEM fields; likewise, they suggested inspiring and fostering curiosity (in other words, let your daughter take apart that old cracked iPhone).  Brittany Kendrick who has a Master’s of Science in Urban Infrastructure Systems, shared that societal paradigms need to change. “As a Black Woman, a Civil Engineer, bred by the public schools on the southside of Chicago, it is my personal mission to resist the social, economic, and political structures that are in place to discourage my ability and pursuit.” Other girls deserve the same, and so advocacy and enlightenment need to continue.

Dr. Temple Grandin, internationally acclaimed scientist and advocate for hands-on learning suggests that girls need early exposure to STEM subjects in order to develop a passion for them.

Kids will seldom see themselves in careers and fields where they don’t see themselves represented (whether it be gender or race).  The more exposure girls can get to see women in STEM industries will help ignite girls interest and plant the seeds they need to see themselves growing in STEM industries.  Likewise, a girl won’t know her options until she is exposed to them.  The more activities, camps, events where girls can get messy and explore the varied degrees and career opportunities in STEM, the better!

 

lemons, decision making, brainstorm, family, discussion

Turn Lemons into Lemonade – Unusual Inspiration for Family Problem Solving

brainstorm, family, decision making, lemons, lemonade, worst ideasFamily Problem Solving – Upside Down!

Guest post created by Sara Heintzelman from Createdu.org

CreatEdu worked with a high-performing charter school to explore how to foster more independence in their students as they prepared for college. Sometimes we tackle a challenge and we just hit a wall. Good ideas seem to be unattainable and it’s time to try something new. We jumped into a ‘worst-possible idea’ brainstorm to shake things up.

With this new criteria, people worried less about coming up with “good” ideas, and without this pressure, the ideas started flowing. One educator suggested that we have Oprah give every student a car. Another said “Let’s throw kids out of a plane with a parachute to see if they are independent!” Logistically (and from a liability standpoint), taking high school students skydiving was a terrible idea- but then, we dug into this concept further. What training takes place before skydiving? What scaffold for independence is built before you let someone jump out of a plane? (For more about how this program was developed, read the full story here). This “worst-possible idea” ended up inspiring the program that was eventually implemented, and would never have made it onto the table if we’d only focused on coming up with good ideas.

When you shift the way you think and make the process more playful, great ideas can spring from bad ideas. This technique is not about forcing a bad idea to work, rather about using your brain differently and either flipping bad ideas upside down or identifying valuable components in the bad ideas that act as inspiration for great ideas.

Bring it home – Creative Family Problem Solving

At CreatEdu we sometimes bring design thinking into our homes. We can’t help it. The following is a story about how Sara, CreatEdu’s Director of Operations, used the Lemons-to-Lemonade concept to problem solve with her own family:

The Problem

“Despite my own minimalist tendencies, with two grade-school kids, our house is messy and has lots of stuff. So. Many. Toys. After one too many ‘lego vs. barefoot’ incidents, we called a family meeting.”

Me: The toys are a disaster, it looks like a toy bomb went off and we can’t even walk through the house without injury! How can we keep the toys and house cleaner?

All I got was a mumble about mom cleaning them up every day and diverted eyes, but otherwise it was silent. It was time to try something new. It was time for a worst-solution idea brainstorm. Ideas quickly started flowing:

The Worst-Possible Ideas

Kid 1: Lets dump every single toy on the floor and make a toy carpet!

Kid 2: Yeah, and let’s just break all of the toys as we walk over them every day!lemonade, innovation, creativity, brainstorming

Kid 1: Let’s put every toy we own in a garbage bag and throw them out.

Kid 2: Let’s give all of our toys away.

After the ideas slowed down, we looked at all of the crazy, bad, no good, terrible ideas we’d come up with and you know what we saw? Gems, lots of little gems hidden in these bad ideas.

The Creative Family Problem Solving Gems

These worst-possible ideas helped us identify some of the underlying problems with our toys in the first place: we couldn’t find them easily so they get dumped out frequently, they don’t have designated homes so clean up is harder, and there were too many of them (many of which had been outgrown). Once these worst-possible ideas were mined for gems, actual solutions began to evolve and ‘The Toy Capsule System’ was born.

We dumped every toy we owned on the floor (not joking!). Each kid picked 15 toys to keep in the house (art supplies and books were exempt and sets of toys, like legos, counted as 1), everything else went into a donate or storage pile. The storage pile went in clear plastic bins in the garage where toys could be traded (1 toy out, 1 toy in). Toys had homes and were easy to find. There were less of them so clean-up was quick and “shopping” for toys became fun and kept things fresh. This idea would never have been born without a bad case of ‘lego-foot-itis’ that prompted a worst-possible idea brainstorm!”

Try this now!

The next time your family hits a roadblock around a common issue, whether it be:

  • The use of electronics
  • How to get homework done
  • Collaborative decisions about what activities to do together for fun
  • How to get chores done, or something else entirely

Try a worst-possible idea brainstorm. For ideas, download CreatEdu’s ‘CreateEDU’s Lemons to Lemonade Brainstorm Guide’. See if your brainstorm leads to anything exciting. It won’t always, but you might be surprised and it might help diffuse an otherwise challenging family topic (who knows, it could also be fun!).

Still Curious?

Build on your Brainstorm with a Yes, and…

Why Go For the Worst Possible Idea?

Turn Your Ideation Session Upside-down

 

Maker, Escape Room, Tech, Arduino

Rabbit Hole Brings Cool Maker Tech to New Louisville Escape Room