Introducing the “Invent in an Hour” Mini-Course!

At MindAntix, we’re passionate about igniting the spark of creativity in students. But let’s face it, coming up with truly novel ideas can feel daunting, and this is especially true for young students. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce a partnership with EvolveMe, an online platform from American Student Assistance, to launch the “Invent in an Hour” mini-course – a one-of-a-kind program designed to encourage students to become inventors in less than 60 minutes!

EvolveMe is a free online tool that helps students build different skills and explore various career options. Many students aren’t aware of the scope of education and career opportunities available after high school. ASA’s research indicates that students face a lack of awareness, access and confidence that can limit their growth and potential post high school. 

With our new mini-course, we aim to address these three areas. Students get a deeper understanding of what creative thinking is and how it applies to almost all fields. By breaking down the invention process into manageable, bite-sized steps, we equip students with the tools and confidence to embark on their own creative journeys.

Demystifying the Invention Process

With our approach, we flip the script on traditional creativity methods and remove the pressure of “solving” predefined problems. Instead of starting with a problem and seeking a solution, we guide students through the power of associative thinking, a technique that sparks innovation by combining seemingly unrelated ideas.

Here’s how it works: imagine combining the “stretchable” aspect of a bracelet with a pillow to make a revolutionary pillow whose thickness can be adjusted by stretching. Or picture a pair of headphones that can double as a mood detector. Associative thinking makes these seemingly absurd combinations possible, and more importantly, increases the likelihood of generating truly original ideas – all within a student’s comfort zone.

Bowerbird Inspiration: Nature’s Mastermind

Our guide through this creative adventure is Curio, a character inspired by the bowerbird, a fascinating avian species renowned for its remarkable creativity. Male bowerbirds meticulously collect an array of colorful objects – from bottle caps to berries – to construct elaborate displays, showcasing their ingenuity to attract mates.

Curio embodies the essence of the bowerbird, encouraging students to gather diverse ideas and assemble them into something uniquely their own. Just as bowerbirds use their nests to express themselves and interact with their environment, Curio helps students see how assembling various concepts can lead to surprising and effective solutions.

Transforming Ideas into Real Inventions

The “Invent in an Hour” mini-course goes beyond simply brainstorming. It equips students with the practical steps to turn their newfound concepts into reality. Here’s what they’ll learn:

  • Idea Generation: Students learn to generate ideas using associative thinking, encouraged by Curio’s playful guidance.
  • Originality Check: Participants use tools to check their ideas against patent databases, ensuring their inventions are not only useful but also original.
  • The Art of the Pitch: Students learn how to craft compelling pitches for their inventions, preparing them to present their ideas confidently.

By the end of this engaging mini-course, students won’t just have an understanding of the inventive process; they’ll have a tangible invention of their own, complete with a polished pitch ready to be shared with the world.

We believe that fostering creative confidence in students is not just about nurturing future inventors; it’s about empowering them to be problem-solvers, and lifelong learners. With the “Invent in an Hour” mini-course, we provide students with a stepping stone towards building their creative confidence.

How To Build Creative Confidence

Albert Bandura, a psychologist and Professor at Stanford, who first proposed the concept of self-efficacy, discovered that people’s beliefs about themselves plays a huge role in how they feel, think and act. People with a strong belief in their abilities tend to take on more challenging tasks and persist despite failures. As Prof Bandura explained, “A strong sense of efficacy enhances human accomplishment and personal well-being in many ways. People with high assurance in their capabilities approach difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered rather than as threats to be avoided. Such an efficacious outlook fosters intrinsic interest and deep engrossment in activities.

However, self-efficacy can take some time to develop. Here are three ways to ensure students continue to build some creative confidence during the school year.  

Build Mastery 

Before students can build any confidence in an area, they first need to learn and become proficient in that area. A first grader is not going to feel confident about tackling double digit addition in mathematics, until he can easily do single digit addition. According to Bandura, building mastery is the first and the most important step in building self-efficacy. 

From a creative confidence perspective, that implies building creative thinking skills, like associative or analogical thinking, that can be used in problem solving. So starting with simple challenges that exercise the creative muscles, and give students a chance to master different creative thinking approaches can go a long way in building confidence. 

Stretch, But Attainable Goals

Before students can take on challenging tasks, they need to first feel confident about their abilities. Experiencing successes, even small ones, builds confidence whereas early failures can lead students to question their abilities. Only when students have developed a strong sense of self-efficacy, are they persevere through failures. 

To build skills and confidence, create sub goals that stretch students’ thinking a little but they are able to achieve their goals with a reasonable level of effort. For example, asking students to come up with at least one idea using a specific technique before challenging them to come up with several. However, if the goals are too easy, then students might come to expect easy successes and will not build the confidence to persevere through more challenging tasks.  

Supportive Environment

Students learn as much from others as they do independently. When students see their peers solving problems creatively, they are more inclined to believe that they have the same abilities. In a similar vein, when teachers (and others) encourage students to keep going despite setbacks and express confidence in their abilities, students start to believe in their own abilities as well. For example, if a student isn’t sure about how others might perceive their idea, let them know why you think their idea is cool and worth pursuing. 

This expectation maps to the social persuasion in Bandura’s self-efficacy model. In an encouraging environment with positive expectations, a student might conclude, “If others think I am creative, then I must be creative.”

Teaching students creative thinking techniques, setting appropriate goals and creating a positive environment and expectations as students practice problem solving, can build their creative confidence. Armed with this confidence, students will be willing to take on challenging tasks, persevere through failures, all of which will set them up for success both in the short-term as well as long-term.