Written by:

Holly Macdonald


December 6, 2010

I have added yet another volunteer activity to my already full calendar.  I am an active parent at both my kids’ schools (different ones) and today started up a “creativity club” with the goal to creating an Odyssey of the Mind team.  I wrote about this before, and I really think its a good way to encourage and foster thinking skills for kids.  This one is at a middle school, kids ranging from 10 -14.  The school has French Immersion, an Ecological type mini school and we live on veritable hot bed of creativity.  I should not have been surprised when 25 kids showed up.  We were expecting a handful and had kind of arm-twisted our own kids to show up for moral support.

We started the session with this video of people trapped on a broken escalator

(thanks to @millerblair) and then showed the OK Go! Rube Goldberg machine video.

After that we had them play “hot potato” and name things that: spin, squeak, float, etc

Then we had some talking to do. That was probably the toughest part – they were pretty noisy – and I’m used to working with adults, not pre-teens, but my daughter tells me that I was a natural.  I have a loud whistle that I can use to get attention when necessary (my party trick, I can get the attention of the entire auditorium, am called upon to use it at other school events).

We may have piqued their interest in teaser announcements with promises to “steal a cow” (an activity that we found on an OM page), which they quite enjoyed and the piece de resistance was the egg drop – they had 8 minutes to figure out how to drop a raw egg from 8 feet and not crack it.  One group managed to do it!  Boy was it great to see the kids working on this activity.

I strongly encourage other L&D experts (even those who do not have kids in school) take the time to explore this for their local areas.  It is a great way to focus on problem-solving/creativity/innovation with kids and it would be awesome to see organizations “sponsoring” a team or getting involved.  It is hard to train innovation (can you?) with adults in a work setting, but if we nurture this skill in youth, they will be much better prepared for the workforce in the future!