KEYNOTE – Sowing the Seeds for a More Creative Society

Karen Brennan

Karen Brennan – Graduate student and research assistant at MIT Media Lab in the Lifelong Kindergarten group

My Thoughts

Wow, this was some interesting software. Jigsaw-based stuff to put together a game or cartoon. Better to try it I think, most of the talk was very fun examples and discussion on what was made which I didn’t note it all down.


2 Goals: Why creativity is an important goal to learning, and how to do more of it with children.

Knowledge is not enough now – not just who you know and what you know, but how to creatively solve problems. Not many classrooms do this, it’s a transmission based classroom.

Looking at the pre-school classrooms for implementing more of this! For instance, building a tower, build it big. Hooligan knocks it down. Talk from the teacher about skyscrapers – a bigger base is built, hooligan can’t knock it down as easily.

Creative learning spiral. Imagine -> Creative -> Play -> Share -> Reflect -> Imagine ….

History – not much computing 40 years ago (although MIT spending a lot of money). Toys got added to preschool. Got up to Lego Mindstorms – robots!

Has a low floor/barrier to entry. Always building robots however. Created PicoCritickets now, a small little computer with 4 types of inputs, 4 types of outputs (eg; light out, sound out, light detector, etc.). (Photo) robot cat thing likes the light. Other things like a jukebox, light sensitive alarm, alarm clock – all done by kids.

Other big technology is Scratch. Allows you to easily create animations, cartoons, and games in a jigsaw-like interface. Website provides an easy way to get feedback, and find things to edit. Loads of great examples, games (Tetris, Duck Hunt and many originals) and cartoons (MSA Season 2), and meta things (tutorials, game makers!).

Site also has forums, a lot of interaction between young kids there. Scratch has users from 4 – 84, averaging around 12.

Latest version added different character sets. Also available is the Scratch sensor board which has button, slider, light sensor, sound sensor and some outputs. Someone for instance created Guitar Hero in scratch. Also being put on the XO, and also the Intel Classmate. Scratch also is going to be put on Nokia. Also going to be done on Samsung, under the name Softboard – for virtual cards. NEC robot also can be programmed using scratch.


Can you sell the games? – A common question from 8 year olds 🙂 The answer is yes, why not. It’s creative commons licensed, so the source code will be there to download too. But some have sold theirs.

What is the runtime/program for those who don’t have Scratch? A scratch file – a package will be sent to play it.

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