Necessity is the mother of invention

Necessity is the mother of invention :

Inspire your children with these examples and empower them to be innovative problem solvers.

I received a call from my sister a couple of days ago – on what would have been the first day back to school after the March break. She called me to ask for my advice about what to do with the kids, “Rob, can you send me some worksheets?” to which I replied, “Laura, your child hates worksheets at school and she will hate them even more at home. Ask Ella what she wants to do and run with it.” I went on to share with my sister what I’m going to share with you all through this post. 

With everything that is going on in the world, I would encourage our children to keep an eye on the do-gooders, the change-makers, the innovators, and those who are speaking out to spread wisdom and necessary reminders (like…STAY HOME!). In learning about these people and their solutions, it is my hope that children will be inspired to imagine a solution to a problem that they have identified themselves. Most recently, I had the opportunity to participate in Future Design School’s Design Thinking Educator program, where I was able to immerse myself in the design thinking process to create something meaningful that would serve my school community. This course allowed me to delve deeply into the design thinking process, equipping my students and I with the skills needed to solve everyday challenges. As I continue to read about the many user-centred solutions that have emerged, I advised my sister to focus on problem-solving (just not in the worksheet way that she proposed). 

Here are some ways to help your child navigate the design thinking process while developing a problem-solving mindset:

Future Design School  – FDS has set up a free to join Facebook page that offers students the opportunity to reflect on how problems are solved while also looking at the characteristics that underpin effective problem-solving. Additional topics include lessons on Unpacking the News and my favourite – turning Boredom into Brilliance by imagining, building, and creating. 

Solve in Time – A design thinking game that brings people together in teams to identify a problem, empathize with users, ideate, and exercise critical thinking to develop a solution. DIY cards and DIY dice are available on their website for FREE

Tinkercad – Tinkercad is a free, easy-to-use website or app for 3D design, electronics, and coding. It’s used by teachers, kids, hobbyists, and designers to imagine, design, and make anything! If your child has a design in mind, they can begin creating a prototype of that design on this program. Encourage them to explore the various tools on the site while having fun to come up with something that will solve a problem. FREE

Below are some inspiring stories of innovative solutions – ranging from apps to 3D products – each made with the singular goal of improving our world during this challenging period. Share these stories with your children to inspire and motivate them to create something: 

Community Make (a Maker Festival initiative)

Maker Festival has set up a platform that connects Canadian makers, technologists and medical professionals to the necessary resources and institutions. Simply visit the Community Make, review the initiatives in place, and see how you can contribute your resources, skills, or suggestions 

An app to ensure that residents remain in quarantine

In what may seem like an extreme move for some people, the Polish government has designed a home quarantine app to monitor residents who have returned from travel. Residents are asked to upload a selfie and periodically throughout the day are required to send additional photos as evidence that they have remained in their homes. 

Nextdoor App

This app allows you to connect with your neighbours to help each other out. A new feature, brought about in light of recent events, enables users to mark themselves as available in a given area to run an errand or help a neighbour in need. 

Hands free door handle 

Using a 3D printer, Wyn Griffiths came up with a hook-like device that will allow people to easily open doors without using their hands. This idea came about when his wife continued to sanitize her hands after touching several door handles. 

A Covid19 data website created by a high-school student –

17-year old, Avi Schiffman is a self-taught coder who created a website that tracks the spread of the Covid-19 and provides updates regarding the number of people affected by the illness. Most recently, after receiving viewer feedback, he decided to include numbers of the amount of people who have recovered from the illness. This is all part of the design thinking process – gaining insight for future refinement, and that’s exactly what Schiffman did!

InkSmith face shields

CEO of InkSmith, Jeremy Hedges and his team have transformed their 3D-printing facility into a production where they are making face shields for frontline health care workers, using 3D-printers. Together with his colleagues, they’ve defined a problem, empathized with users, and are using the tools they have available to come up with a solution.  InkSmith has open sourced the project so that anyone with a 3D printer can assist in the production of this much-needed protective equipment.


About the Author: