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The Power of Play and the Collision of Concepts

Using The Extraordinaires® Design Studio to Make Young People Feel Like Innovators

The Design Challenges in The Extraordinaires Design Studio have been devised to minimize frustration and maximize idea generation in young people through the power of play and randomized inspiration

Pulling original ideas out of thin air can be frustrating for young people because, in reality, it can be quite frustrating for adults. To come up with creative solutions to problems, professionals use reliable idea generation techniques to shake up their imaginations.

The Design Challenges in The Extraordinaires® Design Studio have been devised to minimize frustration and maximize idea generation in young people through the power of play and randomized inspiration. What may seem to some young people to be a game is, in actuality, a set of tried and true techniques for creating surprisingly original ideas in a fun and accessible form – and it works!

The reason the Extraordinaires® Design Studio works is that these creativity and design techniques come from real world practices. Professionals find it helpful to combine existing knowledge that they possess with new knowledge in order to solve problems. Then they add random elements, and the real creative magic happens; the collision of concepts almost effortlessly generates exciting and original ideas!

Young people need activities that provide the tools to give them the same kind of productive experiences, but with materials that they can enjoy. An Extraordinaires Design Challenge does just that by starting as the random combination of a character card and a Design Project card. Right from the very beginning, the often unusual combination of the two gets the creative wheels turning. When a Think Card is added to the experience, its questions create even more of those collisions of concepts, leading to greater potential for a young person to feel like an innovator!

There are three principles associated with reliable design practice that, thanks to The Extraordinaires® Design Studio, young people can experience to become better creators while actively playing:

Stress is a hindrance to creativity, and play reduces stress.

When children feel pressure, their capacity to perform well diminishes dramatically. The Extraordinaires® Design Studio is meant to be fun – to feel like play – while it is subtly teaching them that they have the ability to be great problem solvers.

Ridiculous situations challenge our assumptions in a constructive way.

Pajamas for a mermaid? A sports venue for a giant? Our minds are always trying to make meaning out of the world around us. When young people try to make sense out of something particularly absurd, they can be capable of sheer brilliance!

Shifting viewpoints change how we perceive things.

Think Cards drawn after initially pondering a project can nudge students to rework a design even when they believe that they have exhausted every idea. The cards are a judgment-free way to review their work with a critical eye and discover something new.

Our world of advancing technologies has elevated innovation and creativity to ever greater prominence. When a young person says, “I can’t think of anything!” we cannot respond with “Keep trying!” We need to respond with techniques and tools that share with students problem-solving practices guaranteed to ignite their imaginations and bolster their self-esteem.