Creativity and MSUrbanSTEM – New Publication

In recent years, I have had the privilege to work with an amazing collection of educators as a part of the MSU-Wipro STEM & Leadership Teaching Fellowship. One of the new learning opportunities I have had from this experience has been the process of sharing our work with the broader academic community. I have been fortunate to work on several publications with the MSUrbanSTEM team (you can find more here), including a recent publication focused on creativity in urban contexts. Citation, link to the article and, abstract are below.

Horton A., Henriksen D., Mishra P., Seals C., Shack K., Marcotte C. (2019), Creativity-and-MSUrbanSTEM-2018 In: Mullen C. (eds) Creativity Under Duress in Education? Creativity Theory and Action in Education, vol 3. Springer DOI:

Abstract: We examine the urban context of learning for the fellows in a partnership between Michigan State University (MSU) and Wipro Limited, a leading global information technology, consulting and business services company, which resulted in the Wipro Urban STEM Fellowship Program at Michigan State University (MSUrbanSTEM) program. This grant-funded fellowship provided full tuition scholarships and stipends for 124 highly motivated teachers in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) who demonstrated a passion for teaching STEM. The fellows were divided up into three cohorts. Each cohort participated in an innovative yearlong integrated learning experience to build STEM teachers’ capacity to lead and inspire transformative, innovative practices in urban K-12 schools. In this chapter, the fellows’ instructors explore how to support these teacher participants in their efforts to foster creativity in an era of intensified authority, control, and resistance. By engaging in creative pedagogies explicitly connected to disciplinary knowledge, the program aims to disrupt traditional ideologies around teaching. The mission of the MSUrbanSTEM program is to empower K-12 math and science teachers in CPS to create transformative, innovative, and multimodal instructional experiences through project-based and experiential learning experiences. Each educator participant was encouraged to engage in inquiry around how the ideas of wonder, improvisation, invention, and reflection connected with his or her subject-matter expertise. As reported by way of this case example of teacher creativity, these strategies supported the activities the teachers engaged in throughout the year. The fellowship itself provided a foundation for fellows to develop projects for reshaping aspects of their teaching practice.

A Break From The Norm

During my experience in MSU’s MAET program, I had the opportunity to participate in countless mind blowing, thought provoking and astoundingly creative activities. One of my absolute favorites was a simple task of personifying various features of our building with little mouths, noses and eyes we drew. This simple activity was based on the idea that one of the practices of geniuses is to look at things from multiple perspectives and angles. This came from the book we read in Year 3, Sparks of Genius, and I loved watching our classroom spring to life as my classmates added faces to everything in walking distance. Today I got to experience it again.

As we dive into our Genius Hour project, I try to talk with my students about the word “genius” and its many applications. Today, I decided to share with them this idea of multiple perspectives, and to let them take a few moments at the beginning of class to look at their learning environment in a different way. It was amazing watching students slowly move around the room and flex their unrestricted creativity. Similarly to our Genius Hour, some students seemed intimidated by the lack of rules, but by the end I was amazed with what they created. I have shared as many as I could capture below.

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