by Megan - Monday, May 21, 2012 - Permalink
The Children’s Creativity Museum (formerly “Zeum”), situated in downtown San Francisco, is a place for kids to explore their inner filmmaker, rock star or movie star. They are encouraged to get their hands dirty and sing/dance/shout/whatever to the beat of their own drummer. To facilitate this concept of confidence building, the museum is filled with tools that allow visitors to delve into their creative sides, even including a television studio fully equipped with the same technology professional filmmakers and artists use to film and produce videos.
The museum’s educational philosophy of “Imagine, Create, Share” promotes a divergent thinking process that allows children to explore their wild and crazy ideas (Imagine), express themselves with confidence and the freedom to fail (Create), and validate their ideas while building on those of others, thus strengthening the community (Share). All this is done with a main goal in mind: to nurture what the museum calls the “3C’s of 21st-century skills”: Creativity, Collaboration and Communication. They believe the success of future generations depends on more than just what our future leaders know. It depends on their ability to think and act creatively.
“When people visit the museum, it doesn’t matter how old they are or what their level of tech savvy is. Whether a visitor is three or 55, it’s the magic of being able to create something from scratch that excites them,” says Eli Africa, a Multimedia Producer and Educator at the museum, and self-proclaimed “Imagineer.” He runs many exhibits in the museum, including the animation and video production studios. “It’s not the end product that matters to visitors as much as the process it takes to get there. They’re telling a story through reading, singing, feeling, performing – whatever it is, that’s what people always remember, being in the middle of the process. That’s how I see the 3C’s coming together.”
Through that unique process, visitors of all ages are exposed to the many elements that go into making one’s own original creation, awakening the inner artist within them. “We’re opening the door to a new way of communicating,” says Eli.
Using Technology to Turn Kids into Creators
Around every corner or curve and inside every nook or cranny of the museum is a creative way of exploring, learning and having fun (and with the brightly colored cast of characters adorning museum walls, not an inch of space lacks inventiveness). From blocks and clay to moviemaking and graphic design, the museum is jam-packed with creative activities for kids that nurture the 3C’s.
“The Children’s Creativity Museum provides high and low tech offerings that bridge the gap between art and technology,” says Cathy Barragan, the Marketing and Public Relations Manager at the museum. “Provided with the tools for creative process and the freedom to think and act creatively, visitors are encouraged to move from being passive consumers to active producers in a variety of media.”
The Music Studio, one of the most popular exhibits, is the place kids can go to create their very own music video. It leverages Boinx Software’s BoinxTV to amplify what can be a seemingly simple activity: karaoke. Singing and dancing along to a favorite song becomes a more engaging experience when visitors are able to create something as elaborate and professional as a music video entirely from scratch, using the same high level technology used by real filmmakers. As Eli notes, it’s not the end product that matters, but the unique process taken to arrive there that museum visitors find both encouraging and inspiring. And even though it’s the process kids will remember, the fact that they get to take home their very own music video is simply off the charts.
Making Memories that Will Last a Lifetime
Before entering the music studio, children are greeted with a sign that reads a message reiterated throughout the entire museum: risk-taking, collaboration and confidence are key. “Music Studio is more than karaoke, it’s an introduction to improvisational skills, a chance to collaborate, and a big step forward in developing creative confidence.”
Inside, the room is equipped with a giant green screen stage complete with microphone, lyrics teleprompter and multiple screens for live playback, a computer to host the BoinxTV studio software, and a costume wardrobe. Here, creativity flows. Children can choose everything from costume to song to background setting, allowing their individuality to shine through every aspect.
“Our approach to creativity is based in divergent thinking – a process based on generating creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions. The Music Studio nurtures this skill by giving kids the tools to choose costumes, props and backdrops, and use the latest music composition software to write and produce their own music videos,” comments Irina Zadov, Director of Experience and Community Engagement at the museum. “By prototyping unique soundtracks, green screens, and choreography, our visitors develop creative confidence and a freedom to fail, which we believe is at the core of creativity and innovation.”
At the Children’s Creativity Museum, children are not told what to do or how to do it. They’re given the freedom to make decisions and explore their wildest ideas – without judgment.
“I see that – the power to be a decision maker – carrying on into any aspect of the children’s lives. We’re showing our visitors the tools, but how and if they even use them is totally up to them,” says Eli. “And with those decisions, they are able to express how they feel – through a song they love, an interview they want to conduct, anything. When the kids are on screen, there’s a feeling of, ‘I have arrived.’ It’s quite remarkable, and it sticks with them the rest of their lives.”
In the Music Studio, kids are the stars of their own show, reinforcing the museum’s goal of making children content creators rather than consumers. They’re able to direct and run the production while having full control over technical and artistic decisions. It’s an experience unlike any other, and one that children can only get by visiting the museum. In addition to building the creative confidence needed to freely express oneself, visiting children are able to learn about an industry they might not necessarily be otherwise exposed to. When they’re done creating their musical masterpiece, they can even keep a copy of the performance, immortalizing their moment in the spotlight and allowing them to share it with others.
A Happy Ending After Disaster Struck
“When our Mac Tower was stolen from the Music Studio in the spring of 2011, the museum needed a replacement fast – a new application that would meet our green screen needs to combine with our existing audio-video recording set-up,” recalls Eli. “I discovered BoinxTV through receiving Boinx Software’s email updates. BoinxTV has a lot of features that also make it easy for users to add and combine with, using layers of stills, graphics and video. Each feature can be individually tweaked in some way, opening up more possibilities to telling stories and creating memorable moments with our patrons and staff.”
Museum-goers have been building creative confidence and having fun with BoinxTV ever since.
“We’re so passionate about innovative technology at Boinx and providing tools that are not only fun but actually contribute to creative development,” says Oliver Breidenbach, founder of Boinx Software. “Most of us didn’t necessarily have the opportunity to learn about these tools and industries until much later in life, and now more than ever creative programs are being cut in public schools. The Children’s Creativity Museum provides a safe place for children to explore their imagination and other facets of learning. We’re truly honored to be able to contribute to the education and growth children experience at the museum.”
Investing in Creativity to Invest in Your Children’s Future
“The recession has impacted the entire community, and particularly schools that are unable to support arts programs,” says Cathy. “Fortunately, the Children’s Creativity Museum is able to fill the gaps for many schools through field trip programs, as well as provide opportunities for local teens through the C.I.T.Y. Teen Internship program. As the demand for fee-waived field trips has increased, so has the need to build capacity so that the museum can continue to serve youth and families in the community and beyond.”
Visiting school groups come to the museum and explore classroom concepts in the music studio, bringing an artistic element to the typical curriculum. Being able to produce and choreograph what they’re studying in school in front of the green screen is an exciting and creative way for these students to learn.
As a non-profit organization, the Children’s Creativity Museum relies on contributions of all sizes to be able to continue to provide programs and services to the community. Donations help to build capacity to serve more families, update and refresh exhibits, and support programs such as the C.I.T.Y. Teen Internship program. Investing in the Children’s Creativity Museum is making an investment in the potential of our future leaders. Make your donation today to help cultivate a culture of Creativity, Collaboration and Communication!
BoinxTV: The Technology Behind the Process
To achieve a karaoke production studio cut out for the pros, the Children’s Creativity Museum has a great deal of technology in their Music Studio. They currently use a Mac Pro Tower and Mac Mini hooked up to one 2-chip security camera, an audio mixer, two speakers, two microphones, a karaoke-style teleprompter monitor, a karaoke microphone, a CD-player, three desktop monitors for operator controls and nine Trinitron Sony TVs stacked on top of one another so patrons can watch the entire production as it happens. As a non-profit, the museum is unable to keep equipment as up-to-date as they would like, which means employees often must flex their creative skills to make older equipment (some over eight years old) work with their needs.
Bringing the Technology Home
Though the museum has an extensive set of equipment powering the Music Studio, anyone can use BoinxTV with much less - that’s the beauty of it! BoinxTV by Boinx Software brings the power of the production studio to your Mac – and all you really need is a camera! With this simple setup, users can combine live camera video, clips, photos, 3D graphics, lower thirds, audio and more to create stunning recorded or live video.
Perfect for at-home video production, school news programs, webcasts and more, BoinxTV is a great way to learn, develop new skills, share news with others and express yourself, all while having fun! To learn more about BoinxTV, please visit the Boinx Software website.