The Creative Kid Project – Build Your Dream School

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  (Lao-tzu, 604 BC-531 BC)

The Creative Kid Project is an inspiring and much-needed program being organized and implemented by Vietnamese students and colleagues from Brown University.  Below is the description in its entirety.  My company, Capstone Vietnam, is proud to be a sponsor of this visionary project.  

The Project

Kids are creative by nature, but they need to see that they can affect change and be taken seriously by adults in order to fully develop their ideas. The Creative Kid Project seeks to help secondary school students use their innate creativity to improve one of the institutions they know best: school.

Most kids spend the majority of their time in school learning from teachers and socializing with each other; however, they are rarely given the opportunity to contribute to or shape their learning environments. The Creative Kid Project will push students to think critically about their education, the ways in which it could be made better, and it will help students to develop the skills and confidence to start implementing their ideas.

The Plan

This July, we will partner with Thuc Nghiem Middle-School, Hanoi to pilot The Creative Kid Project (CKP). Thirty 13-15-year-old students, selected by application from Hanoi middle schools, will come together for a 6-day program focusing on creative problem-solving skills. We hope to form a core team of young students (high school or university students) that could work directly with the kids as well as a team of experienced adult advisors to further develop this plan. This project is meant to serve as a proof-of-concept that, if successful, could continue to develop or spread in Hanoi as well as other cities.

The daily program will be divided into morning and afternoon sessions and the content and structure will be loosely based on the Vietnam Youth Forum, TEDx Youth, and Camp Rising Sun (in the U.S. and Denmark).  In the mornings, through mini-presentations and small-group activities, students learn soft skills, such as how to brainstorm or effectively organize a group. In the afternoon, groups of students work to apply new skills towards building specific proposals for their school. On the final day, students will present their proposal to their teachers and school administrations.

The core skills are as follows:

  1. Identifying Issues – framing problem, asking questions (why/why not), brainstorming (think big, think small, “think wrong”)
  2. Collaborating and Organizing Groups — building a team, leading and following
  3. Developing Plans — systems thinking, research skills, design thinking
  4. Engaging with Decision-Makers — approaching and communicating with adults
  5. Preparing Presentations — making concise arguments, designing, drawing, modeling
  6. Pitching Proposals — public speaking, persuasive communication

 These project modes are intended as parts of a toolkit that students can practice within the program and take with them to be effective and creative problem-solvers afterwards. We hope that students will absorb these skills and build the self-confidence to further develop and apply them throughout the rest of school and life.

The Team

We are a group of students from universities in Vietnam and the U.S. with a strong interest in education, child development, and unconventional thinking. With the support from the Watson Institute of International Studies – Brown University and the Louise August Jonas Foundation , we hope to create a meaningful summer project for kids.

Linh Dao is an International Development major who loves kids, music and conversations. She is currently working with Dr. Martin Gardiner at Brown to research the influence of music education on the cognitive development of preschool children. Before Brown, she helped to organize the first Vietnam Youth Forum and studied at the Mahindra United World College of India, an international high school focused on teaching students to be global change-makers.

Evan Schwartz is studying Education and Political Economy and is a leader of a group called The Brown Conversation, which seeks to do the same for university students as The Creative Kid Project would do for younger students. He is from the U.S. and was a three-time participant in the Camp Rising Sun international summer leadership program and a visiting counselor during three other summers. As this is his first trip to Vietnam, Evan will serve primarily as an advisor while he tries to learn as much as he can about Vietnam’s history, culture, education system and, in particular, food.  (Here’s a 29 June post by Evan on Global Conversation entitled Maybe the Premises Are Wrong – Bustle, Bánh Mì, and Big Questions.) 

Suong Tran is a rising senior, economics major and mass communication minor at Washington and Lee University. She was a co-founder of the Fun Recycle project, which helped raise awareness of recycling to protect the environment through fun educational activities for kids.

Trang Nguyen is a junior at Foreign Trade University, majoring in International Economics and Business. She was an active member of English Club at Foreign Trade University and has many experiences in organizing events, including workshops and competitions for English learners. She has also worked with children on various occasions as teaching assistant and volunteer.

Hoa Nguyen is a rising sophomore, majoring in Applied Mathematics-Economics at Brown University. She loves interacting with children, and she has worked with children in a variety of tutoring schemes and projects. Before Brown, she was a recipient of Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) Scholarship and the founder of a creative fundraising scheme for autistic children called “Hands Up For Autism” in Singapore.

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