Sparking Innovation…The Wallace & Gromit Way
Remember Wallace and Gromit in ‘A Grand Day Out’, and ‘The Curse of the Were Rabbit’, and Wallace’s ingenious gizmos that were so fascinating to watch? Those zany inventions became so popular with fans of W&G that creator Nick Park actually followed up his early movies with Cracking Contraptions – a series of ten Wallace and Gromit stop motion animations in which each episode featured one of Wallace’s new inventions and Gromit’s skeptical reaction to it. These “cracking contraptions” are as much a part of Nick Park’s valuable contributions to the world of clay animation (”claymation”) as the beloved man and dog duo and their adventures.
Little surprise then that Nick Park and his award-winning Aardman Studios have a place of pride in museums in Great Britain with their World of Cracking Inventions exhibit. In addition to the exhibit (which sadly is traveling only in the UK for now), the companion website is a rich resource for teachers, parents and schools to introduce to children the idea of innovation and creativity – the Wallace & Gromit way.
This “one-hour innovation lesson” aimed at middle school kids, for example, “is designed to introduce children to the concept of innovation. It highlights ways in which they might use innovation in their everyday lives and gives them the opportunity to consider how some household products may have been designed.” In addition there are downlodable activity packs for different age groups – 4-7, 8-11 and 12-16 years. Each pack contains 8 activities to help kids come up with their own unique Cracking Idea. (Kids in the UK could actually go on to submit their “cracking ideas” into The World of Cracking Ideas competition!)
Materials that teach kids about IP (Intellectual Property) can also be found on the site. They allow students to learn the personal and economic value of intellectual property, as well as how to protect their own innovations.
Creativity and innovative thinking are being highlighted as an important 21-st century skills; so get your kids cracking right along with the lovable Wallace & his adorable pooch, Gromit. And while you’re at it, watch all the cracking contraption episodes on Aardman’s youtube channel. Here’s one you can enjoy right here