I had been waiting all morning for the Creativity Factory to open.
I was visiting the Montréal Science Centre with two of my favorite kiddos (and their mom and dad), and we had spent the morning downstairs learning about the human body. But I was anxious to get to an exhibit called Fabrik - Creativity Factory. "What the eff is a Creativity Factory??," I wondered excitedly. But it wasn't open until after lunch.
Finally, with grilled cheese sandwiches in our bellies, we approached the exhibit entrance.
An educator immediately came to greet us and offered to explain how the Creativity Factory works. The exhibit is filled with hut-like structures, and each one contains a challenge. Visitors can choose any challenge, and try to solve it in any way they see fit. To do so, each station is filled to the brim with supplies, including real tools (even saws!). The Creativity Factory is a place to solve problems in a very hands-on and creative way. Mistakes are encouraged as a way to learn.
How cool! I was so excited to explore this exhibit, unlike any other I had ever encountered in a museum.
I followed my five-year-old friend to the station called "The Pond" (he was drawn like a magnet to the big basin of water in front of the shed).
I read the following challenge:
Shoot! At that moment, it hit me that this was a Creativity Factory in a science center and not an art center.
I was not in the mood to attempt science. So, surrounded by prime supplies, I decided to attempt art. I gave myself a task: "Create a structure that looks awesome and (mostly) stays upright in the water". So, as the five-year-old and his dad worked on crafting a structure that could carry 250 grams in the pond, I gathered materials to make a festive sailboat.
"Safety goggles! We need safety goggles!", pronounced my friend. One can never be too careful around science and art.
I maneuvered straws and paperclips to hold up my plastic flag sail, and placed the pipe cleaner captain at the helm. My vessel may have been heavy and awkward, but was it ever festive.
I asked my young friend if he wanted me to put his name in tape on the sail. He politely declined, not wanting to be associated with the endeavor. His dad took one look at my ship and observed:
"You're really more of a Picasso than a Da Vinci."
Next, it was time for some science.
We joined forces with the ten-year-old and his mom at "The Balcony". The challenge was the classic problem of how to reduce the amount of force on an object when you drop it from on high. Only instead of messy eggs, the objects were balls that lit up with too much force.
Each of us worked at the long table on solutions. The ten-year-old tried different strategies, from parachutes to padding. The five-year-old out-smarted the system by attaching the ball to a pulley and gently lowering it down.
Here was my contribution:
Visiting the Creativity Factory in the Science Centre with these two curious kids was a celebration of discovery and play.
Would that all museum-goers were as engaged and excited as my two friends!