“Creativity is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.”
Many inventions in the modern world actually resulted from a mistake. Some of these inventions also illustrate that creativity is a very important part of scientific endeavour. Creativity is not limited to the arts but is important across all curriculum areas, including science and mathematics. It’s a great idea to talk about some of these inventions with your children.
Frank Epperson was only 11 years old when he invented the popsicle. He was stirring drink mix and water, and then accidentally left his drink outside over night with the stirring stick in it, only to discover in the morning that it had frozen solid.
Safety glass was invented when a French chemist, Edouard Benedictus, accidentally knocked over a glass flask in his lab. Instead of shattering into a million pieces, the fragments hung together because he had lined the flask with cellulose nitrate.
Post-it Notes were also a recent mistake. In the 1970s, a 3M scientist named Arthur Fry adapted a product by Spencer Silver which was originally a mistake. They were meant to be inventing very strong glue. Instead, they made a weak adhesive that subsequently was reinvented into the Post-it Note.
Velcro was invented by a Swiss engineer, George de Mestral, in the 1940s. George was trying to get the burs off his clothes after walking through a field. He was so intrigued that he put the burs under a microscope and discovered the fibre had little hooks. Ultimately, he was able to adapt this concept to produce Velcro which is made from thousands of little hoop and loop structures.
Why am I sharing these stories? Because we need to share these scientific illustrations with children and young adults. These examples teach them not to be afraid of making a mistake but instead to relish the opportunity to think differently and outside the square.
At a recent school assembly I used a personal example of mine to emphasise how important it is to be okay about making mistakes. I did a twirl in my skirt and asked who they thought the designer was. The girls suggested a list of famous New Zealand designers and I was very flattered! Actually one child did correctly