Sliding Otter News- Share Your Imagination

Joe and Carol at Mardi Gras World

Joe and Carol at Mardi Gras World

~Imagine all the people living life in peace.
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.~

John Lennon

Recently I attended the Imagine RIT Innovation and Creativity Festival at the Rochester Institute of Technology. My son Peter, my grandson Joey and his friend Kevin went with me. Thirty thousand other people also showed up. So did two thousand RIT students and faculty, presenting several hundred exhibits, live performances and demonstrations.

On my first visit with Joey two years ago, I saw my first e-book reader, an early model which reminded me of and Etch-a-Sketch. Not much advantage over a book. Joey immediately took to the robots, one wheeling its way through the crowd and another busy assembling hot dogs with choice of catchup or mustard.

Before this visit I happened upon the RIT website describing the hundreds of attractions and where to find them. I had a plan for exhibits and activities I thought would be interesting to visit. However we found ourselves in the quad in line for free ice-cream and drawn to the two foot electric and gas race cars speeding around a makeshift track. Singers, dancers, drummers and art hummed in the quad background.

Without especially knowing where we were going, we wandered into one of the buildings. We encountered a blue room. Leaving their shoes behind, Joey and Kevin frolicked on blue cubes while backgrounds were added to make it appear on the monitor that they were swimming in the ocean or flying though the woods.

In another room, arrays of computer stations displayed computer games students had designed. The boys set to work immediately, exploring the new games under the tutelage of the students who had created them.

Down the hall a classroom awaited us. A storyboard filled one wall. I recognized it from my writing experience. Elementary cartoon graphics showed the layout for an animated film. Several students demonstrated how they progressed from the storyboard to a polished animated sequence.

As fascinating as I found all this, what happened next floored me. Eight year old Kevin and Joey asked sophisticated questions about the process at a level I had not imagined. They connected with these college students in a way which reminded me of the story of Jesus and the Temple elders.

The rest of the day was just as fascinating. The technology and imagination were spectacular. Even more impressive was the humility, sense of humor, and openness of every student and teacher we met. As if that was not enough, one student ambled through the crowd with his placard offering free hugs. I came home encouraged by the endless creativity of the RIT community and the infections enthusiasm they shared with the rest of us. Maybe there is still hope for the world.

Life lab Lessons

  • How often do you tap your creative resources?
  • Do your ideas sometimes surprise you?
  • Encourage others to share their creative ideas.
  • Merge your creativity with that of others in a spirit of cooperation.
  • Create ways to build a better sense of community.
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