The De-Waster 5000 is a helicopter that scoops plastic out of landfills and the ocean then uses a flamethrower to melt the trash into beds for homeless people. It’s not a real product. But it is a creative prototype that was thought up by a 10-year-old as part of the Global Childrens’ Designathon.
The event took place on Nov. 15 in five cities around the world, and encouraged children to spend the day designing solutions to improve food, waste, or mobility issues in their hometowns.
Emer Beamer is the founder of Unexpect, a Dutch agency that teaches design concepts to kids with the goal of tackling global challenges. She explained the philosophy behind the event to Fast Company:
“Often schools are teaching kids things they might never need to know again, and we’re not teaching them how to be creative, or design, or how to hack new technologies or deal with unexpected situations. A lot of people are aware that we really need to change education, but they don’t know how. This is one method that could inspire people. It’s basically design thinking, adapted for children.”
As proven by the De-Waster 5000, kids often come up with creative and outrageous solutions to problems that adults wouldn’t think of. While some of these solutions may not actually be feasible, they definitely demonstrate some out-of-the-box thinking other innovators should be paying close attention to.
At the same time, other suggestions from these youthful innovators may have a much more practical application. Take the suggestion of some students in Amsterdam for a robotic trashcan that sorts out recyclable materials and alerts the garbage truck when it’s full.
While the fanciful suggestions of these young creative thinkers may never become reality, the concept of creative problem solving should be familiar to entrepreneurs. It’s the same kind of creative problem solving they use everyday to develop new products and new services and to put new technologies to creative use.
So an educational approach that stresses more creative problem solving also encourages an entrepreneurial outlook. It’s an approach that could and should lead to more entrepreneurship — or at least, to a more entrepreneurial way of facing challenges in the future no matter what the size of your company.