It was my pleasure to create large scale visual notes at the 2011 Making Sparks event for the Sprout Fund. The event is designed to stimulate thinking and discussion to prepare people to apply for grants to develop projects “That engage children ages birth to 8 through the creative use of technology and media.” The theme for this round of Making Sparks: creativity.
First a series of speakers composed of experts and former grant recipients gave presentations about what makes for successful projects. Here are my visual notes from this part:
(click for a larger image)
And here are close ups of the visual notes for a few of the featured speakers.
Sarah Tambucci talked about the natural creativity of young children and how we hammer the creativity out of them as they get older. She pointed to several of her efforts to encourage the continued creativity of young people as they get older.
Drew Davidson, director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center talked about the power of STEAM education—science, techology, engineering, ART, and math. This adds a crucial letter “A” for art to the popular formulation of STEM education. He also talked about the importance of building the field of technology and media education field through various means, including a new project he is involved in called workingexamples.org
Dave English and Don Orkoskey are the awesome artists behind Schmutz Company. Among other things, they teach teachers how to do stop motion animation projects. They said their Spark grant helped them partner with organizations like the Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh JCC, and the Children’s museum to reach more people in the region.
Dr Alice Wilder, who was head of R&D and producer of Blue’s Clues, has gone on to create a series of successful projects to help children learn and grow. These projects include Think It Ink It Publishing and Speakaboos, Which are both geared toward developing literacy for children. She shared her insights into creating projects with a strong educational core that make the most of their media and are ripe for brand extension into other media. We got to chat a bit during break and she critiqued my drawing of Blue from Blue’s Clues. Great meeting you Alice!
Dave Edwards of Art Energy Design brings together art, engineering, and exploration to help children learn about mechanical concepts through building and exploring with the help of a grant from the Sprout Fund.
After the presenters gave their talks, the audience split up into groups to come up with ideas for projects to pitch to judges.
Here are the visual notes of the pitches and the feedback each proposal got.
The Sprout Fund staff closed by encouraging people to submit formal proposals for Super Spark grants within the month. Audience members were encouraged to be in touch with Sprout early and often as they prepare their proposals to get advice on creating winning pitches.
Thanks again to the Sprout Fund for tapping me to visually synthesize the ideas bouncing around the event. And now I can say I have played at Carnegie Hall (Carnegie Lecture Hall in Pittsburgh, that is, not the one in NYC).
Big fish: met Gregg Behr, director of the Grable Foundation. The Grable Foundation is a major supporter of innovation to support early childhood development in the Pittsburgh region.
Up and coming: Nina Barbuto, founder of Assemble Pittsburgh. Nina is a young architect who has founded a community space in Garfield/Friendship called Assemble “… a place where one can engage their intrigue through hands on activities about art and technology.” Assemble is right around the corner from where I live, so I will be over there often.