ESU’s C.R.E.A.T.E. Lab Fosters Innovation, Inquiry and Creativity
Mention the word “lab” to most people and they conjure up a sterile environment with microscopes, petri dishes and test tubes.
But there is nothing clinical about East Stroudsburg University’s new C.R.E.A.T.E. lab, which invites members of the campus community across academic disciplines to experiment with art, science and technology to expand their thinking and connections to creativity.
C.R.E.A.T.E stands for: Connect ideas, feelings and people through playful collaborative inquiry; Realize the curious and creative potentials within and across individuals and disciplines; Engage body, mind, heart and hands to communicate powerful, innovative ideas about teaching and learning; Attend to the aesthetic, sustainable and imaginative qualities of natural and global environment; Transform thinking through critical and creative problem posing and problem solving; Expand possibilities by listening, documenting and curating our discoveries through multiple literacies and technologies.
The C.R.E.A.T.E. lab, which is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday in Room 107 of Stroud Hall, is awash in colors and funky furniture in keeping with this semester’s theme of exploring color and light.
Since it opened this fall, the C.R.E.A.T.E. lab has co-sponsored a chalking event where students drew chalk art on campus, hosted a collage-making workshop and a talk by a philosophy professor on perception. Individual students, staff and classes also stop in to work on their own creative projects. Lab organizers document the projects using Instagram and “Tickets Out.”
The efforts of more than 150 visitors are on display at the inaugural C.R.E.A.T.E. lab exhibit from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Dec.18 in Room 107 of Stroud Hall.
The lab’s goal is to encourage students to think outside the box, according to co-founder Patricia Pinciotti, Ed.D., an early childhood and elementary education professor at ESU.
“One of the things we really believe in the College of Education is that innovation begins with a creative education,” Pinciotti said. “We really provide a creative education to our students.”
The regimen of high-stakes, standardized testing in K-12 public schools has sometimes crowded out the arts and efforts to foster creativity, Pinciotti said. The lab aims to prompt ESU students to mine their own vein of creativity, which has been shown to help hone critical thinking skills.
“The lab is an ongoing dynamic place for provocative ideas, creative inquiry and documented discoveries among individuals across campus which enhances collaboration and innovative thinking and working,” Pinciotti said.
Pinciotti and Diane Cavanagh, Ed.D., professor of special education at ESU, got the idea for C.R.E.A.T.E. during a trip to Reggio Emilia, Italy, a town known for its pioneering approach to early childhood education.
Like other small towns in Italy, Reggio Emilia, was decimated by World War II. In the years following the war, community members decided that the way to ensure individualism and advocacy was to raise creative, independent thinkers, Pinciotti said.
That led them to establish preschool and elementary centers that made children and parents active participants in directing and documenting their own education in an effort to nurture creative and critical thinking.
The ESU professors were impressed with the way the schools were run and decided to bring some Reggio Emilia concepts to ESU.
ESU junior Bridget Nealon, who is majoring in early childhood education with plans to teach, said she has been attracted to the C.R.E.A.T.E. lab to experiment with art during breaks between classes. In working with preschoolers in a Head Start program this fall, Nealon, from Clarks Summit, Pa., saw the need to foster creativity in children to encourage inquiry and a love of learning.
“You want them to investigate a topic, as opposed to memorize something,” Nealon said.
Next semester’s theme or “provocation” is about creating identity, becoming and belonging, Pinciotti said.
The exhibit is open to the public at no cost, and groups interested in using the C.R.E.A.T.E. lab or seeking more information can contact Pinciotti at email@example.com or 422-3356.