Integrating Informal STEM and Arts-Based Learning to Foster Innovation
The Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, in collaboration with several informal science education and other cultural and business organizations in San Diego, Chicago, and Worcester, MA are implementing a research and development project that investigates a range of possible approaches for stimulating the development of 21st Century creativity skills and innovative processes at the interface between informal STEM learning and methods for creative thinking. The goal of the research is to advance understanding of the potential impacts of creative thinking methods on the public's understanding of and engagement with STEM, with a focus on 21st Century workforce skills of teens and adults. The goal of the project's development activities is to experiment with a variety of "innovation incubator" models in cities around the country. Modeled on business "incubators" or "accelerators" that are designed to foster and accelerate innovation and creativity, these STEM incubators generate collaborations of different professionals and the public around STEM education and other STEM-related topics of local interest that can be explored with the help of creative learning methodologies such as innovative methods to generate creative ideas, ideas for transforming one STEM idea to others, drawing on visual and graphical ideas, improvisation, narrative writing, and the process of using innovative visual displays of information for creating visual roadmaps. Hosting the project's incubators are the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership (San Diego), the Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago) and the EcoTarium (Worcester, MA). National partners are the Association of Science-Technology Centers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Americans for the Arts. Activities will include: the formation and collaborative processes of three incubator sites, a research study, the development of a creative thinking curriculum infused into science education, professional development based on the curriculum, public engagement events and exhibits, a project website and tools for social networking, and project evaluation. A national advisory council includes professionals in education, science, creativity, and business.