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July 12, 2016, by Jeff Parker

7 Valuable Lessons from ImaginationLAB Norwood


Every day at SHP, our team collaborates to deliver holistic, dynamic and innovative designs. Therefore, it’s no surprise that we are proud partners with the Imagination Foundation, whose vision is to educate all children to be creative thinkers and doers while encouraging entrepreneurial ideas in the classroom.

The story of Caine’s Arcade resonated with me – as a child who couldn’t help but create stuff, as a student who learned differently, and as a dad to a boy like Caine.

It inspired me to start Imagination LAB Norwood, an eight-week after school program where third and fourth graders could imagine, create and build during the 2015-2016 school year. We strive to foster an atmosphere where kids can slow down and enjoy the process of making.  Making, without the pressure to succeed the first time.  Making, just to see what if.  Making, simply because we want to.  The program offers children the necessary tools and time to grow and develop, but it also gives them the opportunity to thread these pieces together themselves in self-discovery.

Many members of our SHP team – from recent college graduates to those with older children – were motivated to join iLAB Norwood to help these students foster critical skills through creative play and to teach them about the work we do on a daily basis. However, as the iLAB sessions continued, we realized we were learning as much from the students as they were from us. We walked away with many valuable lessons, including:

  1. The power of positivity: The students were quick to encourage and support not only each other’s successes, but also their failures. With enthusiasm and a sense of purpose, the students’ positivity allowed them to learn and bounce back from their failures, which led to developing more innovative solutions.
  2. Jump in: While many architects are tempted to pause and plan, the children would leap into any project they faced and took chances without hesitation. Though these inclinations sometimes led to failure, these failures soon led to new discoveries.
  3. The reward is the activity: Many times, the students would build and create seemingly for the sake of building and creating. They were rewarded by the activity, instead of solely focusing on the outcome. This helped the children enjoy the entire creative
  4. Imagination is limitless: As adults, we often limit ourselves from using our imagination to its fullest, as we sometimes gravitate toward realism. However, children problem-solve uniquely because they do not restrict their imagination. It was gratifying to see students who thought it was impossible to work through a problem to open up their imaginations and develop solutions on their own.
  5. Teamwork: While working with the iLAB group, our team was invigorated by the teamwork the students exhibited. The children were excited to share successes with each other and help one another understand how to implement their ideas – which were improved through collaboration.
  6. Begin with “can”: So often, we begin a task of discovery with limits. As we watched and interacted with iLAB, it was remarkable to see the students’ minds at work – creating and discovering materials, gravity and each other. It served as a reminder to look at our own processes of living and to insert opportunities for discovery. Instead of beginning every project in the same way with the same order, we can eliminate the ruts in simple daily moments to change our world perspective.
  7. Determined problem solving: It was inspiring to see how determined students would become when they were given the opportunity to set their mind to their wildest ideas. Our team enjoyed offering a guiding hand, but the children lent their own answers. We were amazed to see the solutions each fresh, young mind created.