What s Inside? Have a Look!

Amy Kraft
Feb 01, 2013
Were you the kind of kid that took stuff apart to see what’s inside? Do you want to encourage your own kids to have that kind of curiosity? Check out these marvelous short films by Jennifer Treuting and Kristen McGregor of Squirrel Friends Productions. Kristen tells me that the idea for these videos is loosely based on Tony McCaffrey’s Generic Parts Technique, which I’ll admit I had never heard of, so I did some reading. As Scientific American explains: Tony McCaffrey, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, developed a two-step “generic parts technique,” which trains people to overcome functional fixedness. First, break down the items at hand into their basic parts, then name each part in a way that does not imply meaning. Using his technique, a candle becomes wax and string. Seeing the wick as a string is key: calling it a “wick” implies that its use is to be lit, but calling it a “string” opens up new possibilities. Subjects he trained in this technique readily mastered it and solved 67 percent more problems requiring creative insight than subjects who did not learn the technique. Interesting, right? Generic Parts Technique aside, these videos are delightful and I can’t wait to share them with the kids.