I have to admit that I found this article to be quite grating as a blatant free advertisement for frog design. They are a fantastic design firm but Fast Company is so enamored with them that they post an article that is an infomercial.

I guess it is a good thing that it was posted given that it is spurring me to write. Now that I have that off my chest I do have a few constructive things to say.

The article is about working with children to identify problems and have them use the design process to come up with workable solutions on their own. It is a terrific idea.

frog has an open source toolkit called CAT (collective action toolkit).

The toolkit encourages problem solving as a form of skill development, with group activities that draw on participants’ strengths and perspectives. The toolkit challenges groups to act on their ideas by defining and clarifying shared goals throughout the process.

You can read the story on fastcodesign.com. Want To Help Kids Solve Problems? Have Them Design Their Own Solutions – by David Sherwin

There are other organizations that encourage kids to learn in this manner. One in particular, I think is pretty awesome. The organization is called Destination Imagination(DI). People from 48 states and 30 countries participate in DI. There are 38,000 volunteers and 125,000 participants.

Destination Imagination is an organization for kids from kindergarten through college. Kids work in teams of 2-7 with others their same age. They focus on solving problems as a team using the creative process.  They work for several months without help or interference from adults and then compete within each state and at an international level.

There are seven new Challenges to choose from each year. Each of the Challenges is developed by a team of educators and industry experts who target a particular area of the curriculum and its related standards of content and performance. The areas of focus include: Technical, Scientific, Fine Arts, Improvisational, Structural and Service Learning. There is also a non-competitive Early Learning Challenge that allows participants to develop social and problem solving skills.

This past year I managed my daughter’s 4th grade DI team. The interesting thing about managing the team was how similar it was to the Techstars 3 month accelerator program. I mentored a couple of teams for this past Techstars session in Boston. They had 3 months to work on solving a problem and in the end had a demo day to present what they had done and to compete for investors’ money.

This is a good idea. I do think we should have kids solving their own problems and seeing how they can impact the world. It is amazing what they can get done.