Children are natural inventors
We work with children’s natural interests and imagination, rather than against them. To encourage inventiveness, our classes have a free structure that emphasizes peer-to-peer learning and individualized lesson plans. All classes and workshops begin with an introduction followed by an investigation into different materials. Kids have the ability to make anything they put their minds to–we simply give them the opportunity and structure.
Failure is an opportunity
Trial and error is exciting! Using the philosophy of “failing fast,” which is adopted by many entrepreneurs, kids in KOKO learn to accept that failure is a part of creating something new. Fail as quickly as possible, address the mistakes, pivot and figure out how to make the project more successful. We go into each project with the knowledge that not everything will work. Rather than dwelling on failures, we embrace the opportunity to experiment and find new and different ways to be successful. While creating is important, fixing problems is a necessary skill. As with technology, the most complicated part of writing software is not the writing, but debugging and figuring out what went wrong then coming up with a fix. If it’s perfect the first time, you’ve followed instructions. If it needs to be fixed, you have an opportunity to create your own path.
Tinkering is key to future innovation
Kids have a natural impulse to tinker. While tinkering is often perceived as an unserious hobby, we see it as a way for kids to hone their interests and master a variety of skills. Like Steve Jobs creating Apple in a garage, we too recognize that good things can happen by tinkering! KOKO emerged from Open Source Gallery which itself began in a converted garage in Brooklyn. By tinkering and making small improvements to their inventions and creations, kids are not only working towards improving their project, but also sharpening their critical thinking skills. Each day kids are encouraged to assess how they can make their project better and how it can be changed. There is always room for improvement. KOKO introduces kids to artistic concepts that we explore in programs at Open Source Gallery, focusing on the idea of art as a process. Our programs deliberately leave the end goal open so that kids can follow their creative instincts to accomplish their own goals. We have passion for our work. Because every project is new, teachers are always energized, eager to help kids realize their vision!
Collaboration is key to progress
We offer a place outside of home and school where children can relate to one another and work together as builders, innovators and artists. Collaboration not only allows for kids to learn from each other, but also offers many opportunities for children to show their expertise. Kids can work together to create new strategies and experiment with new techniques that they can share with their peers. Collaboration between kids gives them a space outside of home and school where they can work on self-directed projects, receiving advice and criticism from their peers rather than adults.
Every child is unique
KOKO programs are made for kids of all ages, backgrounds and learning abilities. Every child has unique ideas and interests that they can contribute to projects. In KOKO, we don’t just teach, we learn from our participants. Our students inform our approach and the workshops we offer.
Ideas are more important than technique
First and foremost kids should focus on making their ideas come to life. We want to challenge kids in our program to perfect their technique, however, there is no one right way to do things. No idea is too big, We recognize that they are learning many of these skills for the first time. Kids should explore a variety of directions and methods to accomplish their goals. In KOKO, the process of finding your own way is more important than honing craftsmanship.
The future relies on kids
We are responsible for teaching the next generation. Over the last several decades we have seen huge leaps in the advancement of technology, as well as devastation due to climate change and global politics. Facing these challenges will require innovation, creativity and collaboration. Skills we teach in KOKO prepare kids for a wide variety of fields and professions. Through interdisciplinary lesson plans, we foster student’s interest in STEM fields, helping them to learn how all the disciplines can work together to help kids accomplish their goals.
Trash is treasure
There is great potential in trash! By using recycled materials and found objects, we not only encourage kids to think differently, but also consider their environmental impact. We can not only see the amount of trash we create in our day-to-day lives, but also learn how to put it to good use by doing something creative and positive. With projects such as our solar panel and bike generator workshops, our programs address environmental problems head on! With unconventional materials, kids are required to get creative with their methods of construction, problem-solving every step of the way.
Learn from the ground up
Sometimes you have to break something to learn how it works. In KOKO we take apart things to see how they work–and that’s how you learn how to put it back together or put it together in an entirely new way! You can’t build something stable or effective unless you know how energy behaves–whether it’s the physics required to build a boat that floats or how to put a circuit together to make a moving robot. By starting with the basics and building up, kids can start simple and work towards more complex patterns, eventually seeing these patterns in the world around them so they can apply their knowledge to real world problems.
We trust kids
We trust the kids in our program and that trust gives them a sense of responsibility in the workshop and for their projects. Using power tools and construction materials may spark apprehension in adults, but through the use of supervision and a commitment to reasonable risks, we help kids to overcome their fears and achieve independence. We foster a sense of responsibility, helping them to gain confidence and becoming empowered through their autonomy. Through the use of real tools, kids can learn how to tackle real life problems. The freedom to explore and experiment is key in challenging kids to take risks and explore unorthodox solutions.
The only bad ideas are the ones that go unexplored
Both success and failure can pave the way towards accomplishing goals, but the ideas that we don’t try can never come to fruition. At KOKO we nurture a positive, supportive environment that values input from all of our participants. Every idea is an opportunity to learn!