Neurons is designed from the ground up to nurture the essential skills of every child that engages with any of our creative learning activities. Through the consistent application of the widely respected "learning spiral" your child, or children, will develop a range of skills that are deemed essential for the future economy by the World Economic Forum. For further details, read the World Economic Forum's compelling report "The 10 skills you need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution".
Below are the nine essential skills, derived from the World Economic Forum's report, that are strengthened as children undertake our creative learning activities. Our range of activities provide a comprehensive grounding in these skills.
Analytical thinking & innovation
Every Neurons activity begins with finding something out, or analysing a problem. Following this, the learning framework devised by our team (which includes current and ex-teaching professionals) encourages creativity and alternative thinking. After following the instructions laid out in the activity (the "Do this" section), learners are challenged to refine their activity (the "Try this" section) before creating something truly unique (the "What can you do?" section) and sharing and collaborating with others (the "Share" section).
Neurons activities encourage active learning and adopt a variety of learning strategies. Learners are encouraged to reimagine what they have learnt through instruction and make their own decisions when creating something new. This, in turn, develops autonomy and originality. Creativity is stimulated through participation as learners produce original "artworks". Neurons activities provide the learning strategies to actively learn, and for young people to be responsible for their own development.
Creativity, originality and initiative
Technology design and programming
Our activities encourage initiative. Every activity contains a "Try this" and "What can you do?" section purposely written to encourage participants to tinker with a set of instructions and to expand on this creative output. It is within these sections that true creativity and initiative flourish. The "Share" stage of the learning process not only creates a space for celebration and peer-feedback but also encourages further initiative through comparison and collaboration. We want our learners to take ownership of the projects and transform them into projects we wouldn't have thought of.
Programming, coding and making are essential skills for now and the future. Neurons offers a range of activities to learn about and develop understanding in these areas in a creative, hands-on and fun way. Our computer science activities range from creating animations in Scratch, to HTML and mobile app design. The use of technology is not limited to this area, though, with a range of creative digital media activities. Learners will also find design principles built into activities that do not use technology, such as "Stones", which is about adapting naturally occurring items found in our environment to craft sculptured artworks.
Critical thinking and analysis
Leadership and social influence
Critical thinking is one of the most important skill sets for all learners. Developing the ability to critically evaluate is evident when thinking about the creative learning spiral. The ability to self-reflect and iterate ideas and actions is crucial. For example, the first creative writing activity - to produce a structured film review - is a perfect example of developing critical evaluation skills.
The "Share" stage of each activity encourages both self and peer-evaluation and analysis, and this in turn leads to further iteration. Problem-solving is built into the "Try this" and "What can you do?"stages, as learners are encouraged to tinker, remix and create entirely new, original and personalised outcomes. These outcomes cannot be achieved without making "mistakes", learning from them, and moving on.
Our existing volunteering and social action programmes are a core part of our organisation's commitment to support young people. As such our Neurons programme will continue to support the theme of nurturing young people's leadership and social influence skills.
By definition, the goal is to give children and young people the chance to develop social action, or social influence, skills and experience. Through these activities participants develop their own leadership skills. A number of the Neurons activities encourage learners to work with others and take a lead on creative projects, or even teach, for example, phrases of movement, to others. Young people who are taking part in Arts Awards would also look to develop leadership and influence competencies and this can be achieved through completing certain Neurons activities.
Systems analysis and evaluation
The development of emotional intelligence is a key developmental goal for learners. Having the ability to respond to and manage challenging situations in an emotionally appropriate manner is part of everyone's developmental growth. Given that these behaviours are a fundamental part of our organisation's core values, we look to shine a light upon these within as many of our activities as possible.
The "Share" stage of Neurons activities, along with being part of an online community, brings learners together and encourages them to be appreciative of the views of others, to take constructive comments and criticisms in the manner they are intended and to afford the same courtesies to others in the community.
Neurons produces activities that provide the opportunity to develop analysis and evaluation skills within bite-sized creative activities. Every activity requires learners to make judgements based on their previous actions or learning. These judgements particularly occur during the "Try this" and "What can you do?" stages.
When we think about "systems" and "system thinking", a Neurons activity may encourage the participant to consider a GarageBand song as a "system" and to break it down in to its component parts. These could include "mixers", "instruments", "vocals" and "effects". From this understanding the participant will be able to perform an analysis of how to produce a better sounding song or melody.
Reasoning, problem solving & ideation
The "Try this" and "What can you do?" sections of a Neurons activity are designed to stimulate idea generation and encourage ideation. Learners are encouraged to tinker with set instructions before reimagining a problem and coming up with their own creative solution. Our STEAM activities will require quantitative abilities and the practical application of simple mathematical concepts.