The Department of Cardboard Hats opens for business at A2 STEAM.

Originally designed as an installation for the evening luminary event FoolMoon, The Department of Cardboard Hats was created through a collaborative effort between teachers, parents, and students of Ann Arbor STEAM. The goal was to engage audience members through a delightful, albeit Kafkaesque bureaucracy dubbed “The Department of Foolishness”. Participants were given materials, constraints, and a chance to spin the “wheel of hats” to determine the challenge. The goal was to create a fun and stylish hat that fits its intended purpose. Topics range from “A Hat for Underwater Exploration,” to “Is It a Bird or a Hat?”

The concept was so well-received I began to apply it to a variety of contexts. It has been used as an instructive tool in professional development for teachers embarking on the work of teaching and assessing creative competencies (guided by reference from the BIE text PBL for 21st Century Success). It has been used as a rapid design challenge for learners K-8 at Ann Arbor STEAM using the design thinking process.

The Department of Cardboard Hats has also been used as an interactive exercise for preservice teachers learning through Katie Robertson’s University of Michigan course framed thusly as the exercise: “Developing Creative Confidence.”

We can say, with confidence, that the resulting fruit of this labor has only begun to sprout.

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