At the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF), we believe all children can invent. This steadfast belief permeates everything we do and guides the development of all our education programs.
We are mindful of the fact that not all children learn or create in the same way. Instead, each child has a unique set of experiences, abilities and preferences informing how they see and explore the world. Because we encourage all children who participate in NIHF programs to take risks in the pursuit of developing innovative solutions to real-world problems, our education team provides each educator who implements a NIHF program with a comprehensive Instructor Guide filled with tips and strategies for creating safe, creative spaces where each child feels supported and empowered.
Read below to learn more about just a few of the strategies used to support all children who participate in our programs.
A key strategy for enabling mindful inventing is creating a risk-free, inviting and relaxed environment. It’s for this reason that we recommend educators move desks and chairs out of the way, giving children ample space to work and build.
Additionally, Instructors can create a sense of immersion by facilitating the curriculum in a story-based context. Using language that invites participants into the storyline encourages them to embark on a dynamic STEM and creativity adventure. We suggest adding props and using provided or borrowed materials to transform the classroom into another place or time.
Techniques that enhance feelings of immersion include:
- Changing the physical environment of the classroom to reflect a scenario in the lesson.
- Assuming a character role while interacting with participants.
- Sharing information that will make a scenario realistic to participants.
NIHF’s education programs value diversity and are committed to providing a platform for all children to explore, make and create. Our curriculum designers continuously consult with experts in the fields of neurodiversity and accessibility, and have made concerted efforts to ensure the overall program experience provides support and allows the participation of all children.
By helping the children in our programs celebrate diverse ideas and different problem-solving styles, our programming seeks to explore diversity beyond traditional frameworks. We are able to achieve this effect authentically by including lessons and stories from a diverse array of innovators (our NIHF Inductees) within our curricula.
Research from Opportunity Insights shows that children who are exposed to innovation at a young age are far more likely to innovate as they age. It’s for this reason that we incorporate Inductees in our programming who have different ethnicities and backgrounds to ensure all our participants will identify and connect with world-changing inventors.
NIHF’s programming fosters a culture of acceptance and guided support, as well as to provide a platform for participating in invention and innovation. A culture of acceptance includes cultivating an appreciation for diversity in ideas, styles, backgrounds and abilities. In this way, we seek to create spaces where all children can participate and succeed.
We recommend educators consider the following while creating an inviting and creative environment:
- Be mindful of the physical setup of the space and the experience it offers for the children in your class. Rearrange and adapt the workspaces and materials to better support the students in the program.
- Be flexible on allowing children to work on their own, with a partner or in teams per their capacity.
- Allow children to take breaks from the group as needed.
- View “failure” in a positive light. Emphasize that even famous inventors have ideas and prototypes that did not (or do not) work and often experience many setbacks before they have a successful design.
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