Thursday, March 7, 2019

Exploring Creativity and Loose Parts as Adults

Exploring Creativity and Loose Parts as Adults

While many of us think of the concept of Loose Parts centered around children, the theory does not limit these principles to the younger crowd. Simon Nicholson asked, “Is society content to let only a very few of its member realize their creative potential?” as he called for a need for more interaction with planning and creating our spaces. Many adults enjoy exploring their creative side through the use of variables. For many educators, that may include setting up loose parts provocations, outdoor play spaces, etc. Doing this with the children is even better.
            Other adults may explore variables through pushing the boundaries with art. When we expand our definition of what a loose part is, we have even more options. Nicholson wrote, “all children love to interact with variables such as materials and shapes; smells and other physical phenomena, such as electricity, magnetism and gravity; media such as gases and fluids; sounds, music and motion; chemical interactions, cooking and fire; and other people, and animals, plants, words, concepts and ideas. With all these things all children love to play, experiment, discover and invent and have fun. All these things have one thing in common, which is variables or 'loose parts'." Variables can be magnetism, smell, fluids, music, fire, cooking and so much more—loose parts can really be a part of any of our creative aspects of life!
            I have been very impressed with the creativity and call for action from the show, The New Creatives, on BYUtv. With a focus on creativity, the show highlights an artist, gives a collaborative project, and ends with a challenge for us the viewers. Each episode encourages us, “Don’t just watch stuff, make stuff” (Peterson & Craig, 2017). One episode highlights Patrick Rochon, a light painter. Rochon uses a variety of light sources like glow sticks and light wands, along with a long exposure on a camera (or using an app on a phone) to capture the movement of light over time. We immediately tried this and were able to bring the experience of light as a variable to several festivals in our area. Adults and children alike were mesmerized with their creations while also enjoying the experimentation factor.
            Another artist on the show went back for an engineering degree and applied his artistic bent to engineering concepts. He makes a ferrofluid (iron and oil) that is responsive to both magnetism and movement. How cool is that? Once again, he was playing around and having fun with variables or loose parts. Inspired by the episode, we made magnetic exploration sets for adults in our family for the holidays, creating ferrofluid in a jar, using iron filings in water, making magnetic slime, and gifting strong magnets. The exploration factor was high on each of these gifts! We shared the concept of magnetism as a loose part with others.


            However you choose to explore variables, be sure you are part of the creative process as well, not just on the sidelines. Being creative feeds our soul and allows us to support the children in our care as they experiment with variables as well. We all like to "play, experiment, discover, invent and have fun"! As Nicholson defines creativity, it is “the playing around with the components and variables of the world in order to make experiments and discover new things and form new concepts.” Have fun playing!

Peterson, J. (Writer), & Craig, A. & Peterson, J. (Directors). (July 26, 2017). Patrick Rochon [Television Series Episode]. In Cook, J. R. & Cook, A. S. (Producers), The New Creatives. Provo, UT: BYUtv

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