IVE’s Applied Creativity Lab helps children find: ‘The Solution to Pollution’

24th November 2021 - Sharon Rugg

Never before has the need to find new ways to tackle climate change been more important, and as the impact of climate change intensifies over time, it is the children and young people of today who will face the worst effects.

Working in partnership with Born in Bradford (BiB) and two local primary schools, St Stephen’s CoE Primary and IQRA Academy, IVE has just completed another 10-week Applied Creativity Lab programme that gave 30 young children the opportunity to help design new ways to reduce air pollution.

Research over the years has proven that children are very creative. In 1968, George Land conducted a research study to test the creativity of 1,600 children ranging in ages from three-to-five years old who were enrolled in a Head Start program. This was the same creativity test he devised for NASA to help select innovative engineers and scientists. The assessment worked so well he decided to try it on children. He re-tested the same children at 10 years of age, and again at 15 years of age. The results were astounding.

Test results amongst 5 year olds: 98%
Test results amongst 10 year olds: 30%
Test results amongst 15 year olds: 12%
Same test given to 280,000 adults: 2%

Therefore, whilst we know that young children are extremely creative they cannot use their creative problem-solving skills in a real world situation. Adults though are required to contribute to very serious and globally discussed environmental problems, but that 96% drop in creativity between the age of 5 and adulthood, coupled with real life obstacles, social structures and organizational barriers, drain adults’ creative inspiration and creative power – adding to George Land’s theory “that non-creative behaviour is learned.”

IVE’s Applied Creativity Labs aim to nurture young peoples’ creative behaviours and thinking skills to help develop innovative solutions to real world challenges themselves, and give them a platform to voice their ideas.

Pairing young innovators, with industry experts, has seen primary school children in Bradford use their newly acquired, uninhibited creativity to develop a range of inspiring new ideas to reduce air pollution; drones that capture air pollution and convert it into oxygen, from electric houses powered by volcanic lava, to the pedaletic and hovercars of the future.

The students’ ideas were judged for originality, applicability and affordability by a panel of industry experts at Bradford City Hall on 22nd November 2021.

IVE’s Programmes Director, Sarah Mumford, believes now is the time to help young people take action to protect the future of the planet.

She said: “At IVE, we believe that creativity shapes a better world. Knowledge alone is not enough – being able to apply divergent and convergent thinking skills to help find innovative solutions to a huge global crisis such as climate change, is vital.

“Our labs are designed to give children and young people the skills to drive positive change.

“By applying creativity to real-world challenges, learning becomes real and young people use their new skills to take an active part in creating their own futures.”

Jamie Thorpe, assistant head teacher and science leader at St Stephen’s CoE Primary School, Bradford, added: “The children have absolutely loved working with Sarah and the Creativity Labs Team. They have learned about the very real issue of the climate emergency and began to think creatively about their role within this and how they can begin to come up with real life solutions.

“I have seen the children who have taken part in the Creativity Labs workshops thrive and grow in enthusiasm for the topic as well as confidence in general.”

The work is part of the National Institute for Health Research funded ‘BiB Breathes’ project which is exploring the impact that pollution has on children’s health within the city.

Professor Rosie McEachan, Director of BiB, said: “Our research has shown that pollution causes high levels of ill-health in Bradford, and our children bear the brunt of this.

“We need to start acting to reduce pollution levels within the city and young people have the type of blue sky creative thinking needed to solve difficult problems like this.

“We all have our part to play in tackling pollution and we hope that their solutions can act as a catalyst to action.”

The project featured on BBC Look North, BBC Radio Leeds and in the Telegraph and Argos Born in Bradford innovators pitch ideas to solve pollution | Bradford Telegraph and Argus (thetelegraphandargus.co.uk)


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