Since the mid-2010s, elementary and secondary school teachers in the Maritime provinces have been able to count on the organization Brilliant Labs / Creative Labs to support them in their creative projects with their students. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Natacha Vautour, coordinator of Francophone projects for the organization.
École branchée: What is the origin of your organization?
Natacha Vautour: The New Brunswick Department of Education first created our organization in 2014 to support the development of creative labs in schools across the province. Then, the departments of education of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador joined in the funding, as well as the federal government.
ÉB: How does your organization work?
NV: Initially, the New Brunswick Department funded seven schools with substantial amounts. They served as role models and inspiration to others. Now we receive requests from schools and teachers. We can grant small amounts (500 $) for the realization of concrete projects. In addition, we offer personalized support and we offer all kinds of challenges to teachers in order to give them ideas and encourage them to try creative projects.
ÉB: Do you feel the ripple effect?
NV: Obviously, we work with voluntary teachers, but there are more and more teachers who are trying. Many are in primary school, but there are more and more of them in secondary school. When there is a teacher in a school who calls on us, I would say that it is not long and there are others who join him. This requires a certain open-mindedness from teachers. They agree to let their students create in their own way. In addition, I would say that the projects are increasingly complex. Some teachers only want to experiment with robotics at first, then they discover the educational potential and quickly go further.
ÉB: A piece of advice for teachers starting out…
NV: Create links with what interests you and think sustainability. When you design an activity, think about it so that it is multilevel and multidisciplinary. Thus, if you have to change your level of education or even school, you can reuse your activity. It still takes time to prepare, so you might as well maximize it. This way, you can also “swap” activities more easily with colleagues.
ÉB: When someone asks you “What is the point of setting up a creative laboratory? », what do you answer?
NV: The laboratory allows the achievement of several objectives with the students: development of creative thinking, entrepreneurial spirit, problem solving, desire to innovate, collaboration. For teachers, the creative laboratory becomes an opportunity to personalize student learning, to propose engaging projects. Incidentally, we touch a lot on the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN since the laboratories also encourage the sustainable and responsible design of objects.
ÉB: You are very present in the Maritimes, do you have collaborations with Quebec?
NV: Yes! We have two projects that are in development and should be launched in the spring of 2022. We are working with the team at the Digital Literacy Training and Research Laboratory at the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi (UQAC) to produce a series posters that can guide the establishment of a creative laboratory in a school. With this same team, we are also writing a new self-training course that will soon be offered to teachers via the organization CADRE21.
To go further: the magazine Labos Créatives and Infos Créatives, https://issuu.com/brilliantlabs
Read tomorrow... From the creative laboratory to sustainable development
To find out more about setting up a creative laboratory in a school, watch our special file to be published in the coming days (reserved for subscribers to École branchée magazine).
In addition: (Re)read our article Creative laboratories in Quebec schools: inventory and questions.