When given the opportunity, kids can be wonderful futurists, creating artifacts that help us imagine possible futures.
Two summers ago at Kirk Cooper’s fabulous summer camp Sees the Day in Berkeley,
California, kids 6-9 years old prototyped devices they thought would be important in the future. Using a forecasting rule of looking back two years for every forecast year, we looked at many historical devices and the kids had to guess their function. A lantern specifically designed for milking cows in the mid 19th century; a wired, “mobile” field phone from the mid 20th century: a cassette player/boom box and an LP from recent past, etc. The campers had to guess what the devices were, how and why were were used.
We then talked about what devices might be important for us in the future (time frame is a squishy concept to nail down with 6-9 year olds). They prototyped and then presented their devices. We talked about why these devices were important, who might use them, and what kinds of things were happening that would make them important in the future.
Everyone had fun. And it was a great way for kids to experience the threads that connect their present with their future.