Novel Ideas: Building Students' Creative Thinking Skills

Novel Ideas is an educational pilot that builds students’ creative thinking skills, defined as a flexible and imaginative approach to solving problems. Using creative play and Mat Bevel Company President Ned Schaper’s world of Beveldom–a fine-art mechanical land teeming with inspiring characters–the pilot integrates kinetic art, surrealistic theater, storytelling and hands-on activities into the classroom to teach students in 3rd-5th grades at Miles Exploratory Learning Center English language arts and science concepts that meet Arizona State Standards.

A field trip to the Museum Of Kinetic Art and five monthly one-hour classroom activities will use observation, writing and storytelling to help students learn and communicate a deeper understanding of 1) central ideas, themes, individuals and events and how/why they develop and interact over the course of a text or story and 2) relationships between structure and function of materials and systems. A final project will showcase the students’ novel ideas to peers, school leadership and family.

Students from three classes of 3rd-5th graders at Miles Exploratory Learning Center in Tucson will learn how to access their imagination to generate ideas, solve problems and capture their thoughts in stories through various mediums. With Novel Ideas, student can’t go wrong if they just use their imagination!

Miles Exploratory Learning Center teachers and Mat Bevel Company staff will develop activities that stimulate students’ imaginations and emphasize creative problem solving that supports divergent and critical interpretation. Students will respond to visual stimuli and prompts in discussions and writing exercises to articulate and elaborate on their thoughts and analyses.

Students will learn how to create and share their own novel characters, scenarios and plot lines to acquire grade-relevant English language arts reading, writing, speaking and listening skills as well as science-based observation, questioning, hypotheses, investigating and modeling, analysis, conclusions and communications skills.

Novel Ideas is a grassroots effort that addresses a national creative intelligence deficit on a local level by using Tucson talent to change learning outcomes for Tucson students. This pilot has the potential to become a model for other schools in the Tucson region and beyond. If your school is interested in partnering to design a custom program, please contact Paula Schaper: or 520-604-6273.