I have a longstanding and ongoing passion for including creativity as a central element in project-based STEM learning environments. For the most part creativity in K-12 classrooms has been associated with the arts and music and rarely emphasized in STEM disciplines. In these disciplines a focus on the role that creativity plays in teaching, learning, and retaining STEM concepts is critical to improving teachers instructional strategies. Without this focus, it is unlikely that STEM teachers will be able to develop classrooms and school environments that can foster students’ creativity.
Teaching for creativity is a challenging task requiring the development of ideas, implementing them, and evaluating the extent to which they have worked. This requires that teachers improvise on the spot and take unforeseen detours, to pay attention to unexpected opportunities for learning, to live with uncertainty, and to risk admitting that an idea led nowhere.
To address a national need for more inspirational STEM outreach to underrepresented and underperforming youth, Gary Scott, Ed.D, Visiting Professor of Education at the University of Redlands, created the Inventatorium project to spark interest and enhance STEM skills for these children. The Inventatorium integrates big ideas from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in a project-based learning approach that is innovative and inspirational for students and can be implemented in formal as well as informal learning environments. The Inventatorium project is based on emerging research on the role that spatial reasoning plays in supporting STEM success:
(1) students with greater spatial reasoning abilities perform better in high school and college-level STEM courses, even when controlling for verbal and mathematical abilities
(2) spatial reasoning abilities are an important component of mathematical skills that lead to success in higher-level STEM courses
(3) STEM courses serve as gatekeepers for students entering many professional fields
(4) Spatial reasoning abilities may be improved through training and educational interventions such as the Inventatorium project.
The Inventatorium’s goals are: students will invent, design, and build structures, mechanisms, devices, models, and maps based on their interests and creativity. These goals are achieved by using commercially available construction kits such as Legos and K’nex which research has shown to facilitate spatial thinking.
1995-2002. Science and Arts Technology Center. The purpose of the Interdisciplinary Center is for students and teachers to use state-of-the-art technology to explore STEM topics.
2005-2009. Computer-based assessment of students’ problem solving abilities. Construction of problems and analytic software tools that can distinguish between novice and expert problem solving strategies. These tools provide a basis for determining if students are transiting from novice to expert strategies when solving problems.
2007-present. The Inventatorium integrates big ideas from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in a project-based learning approach that is innovative and inspirational for students and can be implemented in formal as well as informal learning environments. Students are encouraged to invent, design, and build structures, mechanisms, and devices based on their interests and creativity. These cognitively demanding and interesting tasks, problems, design challenges, and mediation strategies promote conceptual understanding of important mathematical and scientific ideas that build emotional connections to knowledge of mathematics and science concepts.
1. California Administrative Certificate
2. Standard secondary in biological sciences, lifetime
3. Community college in biological science.
4. Introductory mathematics.
1. Scott, Gary. 1996. LA Systemic Initiative and SS&C Join Forces for Reform. Restructuring Science, 5:5, 4.
2. Scott, Gary. 1997. LA-SI and SS&C: Agents of Change for Secondary Science. Restructuring Science 6:4, 3.
3. Scott, Gary. 1998. Proposed Standards Support the Integrated Science Reform Effort. California Classroom Science, 10:5, 9.
4. Scott, Gary. 199. Testing, Tracking, and the Standards. California Classroom Science, 19:3, 10.
5. Scott, Gary. 1999. Inquiry and the Nature of Science: Resisting the Folly of a Text-Driven Approach to Standards-Based Science Teaching. California Classroom Science, 19:5, 10.
6. Scott, Gary. 1999. Making Connections: A Guide to Implementing Science Standards. California Science Teachers Association.
7. Scott, Gary. 2000. Integrated/Coordinated Science Swells the Science Pipeline in the Los Angeles Unified School District. California Classroom Science, 11:4, 10.
8. Scott, Gary. 2001. Integrated Science Study. The Science Teacher, 67:6. National Science Teachers Association.
9. Scott, Gary. 2005. Activating and Applying Inert Knowledge by Developing Students’ Cognitive Functions through the Rigorous Mathematical and Scientific Thinking Approach. Paper presented at the Conference for International Center for the Enhancement of Learning Potential.
10. Scott, Gary. 2013. The Inventatorium. Paper and poster for the Latin American School for Education, Cognitive and Neural Sciences. James S. McDonnell Foundation.
Advisory Boards: Council for the Center of Educational Justice; Council for Spatial Studies
Systemic Initiative Assessment Collaborative
Discovery Channel’s Educational Outreach
American Association for the Advancement of Science – Project 2061 Evaluation of Science Assessment Task Force
Biological Sciences Curriculum Study
Marine Advanced Technology Center
California Systemic Initiative Assessment Collaborative
WestEd Professional Development member
Ocean Literacy Project Coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary
California State Scope, Sequence, and Coordination of Secondary School Science - Statewide Performance Based Assessment Project
High School Director for CSTA
LENS Faculty Development, 2014. ($6,000.00)
University of Redlands Proposal Writing Faculty Fellow Program 2014-2015. Developing Visuospatial Reasoning (DVR) in 3rd-5th graders.
$700,000 National Science Foundation grant award to the University of Redlands: Evaluation of a Model Spatial Thinking Curriculum for Building Computational Skills in Elementary Grades K-5