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**12/9 UPDATE** Square One: Where creative confidence begins and grows.

The idea is to provide a set of inspirational cards (available in web, mobile and print) that have creative prompts to encourage young people to take the first step in creating. Pick a card, follow the prompt and share it online with other creatives.

Photo of Nikko-Ryan Santillan
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**12.9 UPDATE**

Prototype our idea with some young people you know!


If you want to make something great, you need to start making. -- David Kelley

Have you ever wanted to create something but are not sure where to begin? Staring at a blank canvas, screen or paper, there is a challenge of where to start, what to create. Starting is usually the hardest part, so providing guidelines or structure can help with the creative process.

The mission of the Square One project is to provide a basic framework of creating through making in order to foster and grow creative confidence in young people.


The vision of Square One (developed in collaboration with Annie Sexton and Kristen Engles) is to jumpstart creativity by fostering innovation, activity, and confidence in young people. The goal of this project is not to have young people create content solely in a digital format but to build a stronger connection between the imagination, creating through making, exploration and problem-solving. With an understanding that there is never one solution, these cards empower young people to create unique pieces or ways of thinking that reflect individual, social and societal concepts. The cards encourage a young person to use what they have in their immediate environment, in the kitchen, outdoors, community etc., which can spark their creativity by inspiring them to think outside of the box to execute the prompt.


From the initial concept phase through refinement we have received amazing feedback and comments about the project. As a way to develop the Square One concept we examined how to structure the prompts into different categories. Three categories (individual, group and society) have been chosen as a way to focus our prompt structure as well as establish social interaction. The categories allow young people to complete prompts individually, as a group, or both with the option to expand their lens of social awareness. Furthermore, each prompt has a set of loosely-set parameters to allow for creative expression, exploration of different materials, environments and tools as well as provide a solid foundation for participants to start from.


Square One would be accessible in print, mobile and web formats.

PRINTED (see images)

To obtain a printed version of Square One, a user would visit the website and purchase a set of cards. The cards will have a specific age group attached to them, which will correspond with the K-12 education system in the United States. The creative challenges will reflect academic, social and behavioral age appropriate experiments for young people plan, create and share.

Since the target audience (stated above) covers the age groups within the primary education system, it is important to develop a series of decks of cards that engage, challenge and deliver memorable experiences for young people. As a result, the decks will be subdivided within the 

target audience. For example, the deck shown in our prototype visuals is focusing on young people ages 8-12 years old while another deck would have prompts focused on sparking the creativity of high school-aged children.

The prompts and parameters for each deck of cards will be defined according to the age-appropriate group. Each challenge has an inspirational quote connected to the prompt, and each deck will also include Instructions, Helpful Hints and Square One Overview cards.

The three main steps of the creative process are always provided on the bottom of each card, reminding the participant to: plan, create and share.

The instructions for Square One are simple:

1. Pick a card from one of the categories (Individual, Group and Society).

2. Plan the challenge.

3. Create the solution.

4. Share the solution by visiting the website and posting it to the Gallery, or via the mobile application.

APPLICATION (see images)

The mobile platform allows young people, teachers and parents to interact with the Square One on the go. Prompts will be posted daily as a way to inspire users to create every day. Simply pick the daily prompt or view a card, follow the prompt, create what is listed and then post your work to the gallery. All posted work will sync across the mobile and web galleries. Users will have the opportunity to browse and filter the gallery for inspiration, collaboration and additional creative challenges. Young people can then use their created work as a jumping off point for other projects, or as a finished product with the option to share in the online gallery composed of other young creators who have participated in the same exercise.

* Note: In the interfaces shown above, the blue color of the navigation bars and surrounding background of the daily prompt correlate with the chosen category (Individual). If another category was selected, the colors would then change to that category color--yellow for Group and red for Society. 

WEBSITE (see images)

Square One’s website extends the conversation of both the mobile app and printed version of the card systems. Users will have the opportunity to learn more about Square One, purchase sets of cards, as well as view, post and browse the gallery and prompts for inspiration.

* Note: Similar to the note above for the application, card category colors and gallery images would be denoted by the chosen category. Additionally, for the website, gallery images shown would pertain to the chosen Square One card. For example, if the "New Name" card is chosen by the user, the gallery would be populated with posted work pertaining to the "New Name" card. 

*New* Refinement question: What will the future look like with your idea in it?

The future looks very promising with the development of Square One. Although simple in concept and structure, Square One's ability to jumpstart creativity by fostering innovation, activity, and confidence in people of various ages (not just young people) will help shape positive results for individuals and society as a whole.

Since we redefined the target audience to be young people in the K-12 education system, Square One has the opportunity to develop multiple decks to keep challenging the audience to create in a playful, game-like manner. Therefore the decks could be developed for the following age (grade) groups: (K-2), (3-5), (6-8), (9-12). In addition, we would develop a family edition that would have a mix of the age groups for families with multiple children in different stages. By structuring the decks in such a way, Square One cards can have age-appropriate prompts, parameters and hints. The ability to target and challenge the different age groups also allows Square One to engage young people from an early age. If young people engage early, positive habits will likely form and they will be continue to learn, be challenged and establish a greater sense of creative confidence by the time high school graduation is upon them.

A potential social component of the online gallery could also be incorporated, which would allow young people to give feedback on created work or share how one person’s work inspired them to create something on their own, thereby fostering creative collaboration and cultivating creative confidence. Such collaboration will lead to more in-person and group interactions, giving Square One the flexibility to move from cards to online conversations and exchanges to events and 24-hour prototyping, both online and offline.

In order to encourage participation and showcase the projects on the gallery, a reward system could be developed. This system could reward users as they submit projects online. For example, the more projects submitted the more points a user can be rewarded. These points can be redeemable for art supplies, discounts for museums or other cultural and community-specific events that further encourage creative confidence in young people.

In this challenge, we want to create ideas with young people, not for them. Outline how you’re planning to involve young people or other end-users (parents, teachers, etc) in designing, iterating or testing your idea during the Ideas phase.

Delivered in a series of cards, printed and presented virtually, the idea for the Square One arose with the consideration of kids and adult figures in mind at the very beginning. We wanted to provide a basic framework that was understandable and usable by kids or with kids, should a teacher or parent wish to carry out the challenges inside of the classroom or at home. Additionally, we wanted the format of this product to be versatile so that a user would be able to access a variety of cards online, offline or on-the-go.

During the prototype and refinement stage we received a number of comments and suggestions on how to grow this concept. In addition, we tested the cards with four different groups: 5 kids from three families in New York, Salt Lake City and Boston, and about 35 young people (ages 6-12) of the Boys & Girls Club in Cypress, California tested Square One. The feedback received from the testing allowed us the opportunity to redefine the audience, fine tune the content, establish a structure for the categories, populate the cards and develop simple instructions for the challenges.

Overall the feedback provided was positive! In the next steps section, we discuss how to take what we have learned and apply it to the concept with aims of producing a number of decks geared towards different age groups (within the K-12 grade system).

One recurring feedback from the prototyping stage was the need to set parameters, possible time restraints and provide additional instructions or examples of the challenge. We recognized the need for additional instructions and developed an icon system that reflects the categories: individual, group and society as well as the three main steps of the process: plan, create and share. The categories also are color-coded. We wanted to develop a series of prompts, which varied in terms of traditional art projects in order to educate participants that creativity doesn’t mean being able to draw. Square One wants to encourage young people to view the world with a broader lens, so creativity can translate in many different ways.

Also, from the feedback on setting parameters, we wanted to keep the prompts simple to encourage exploration. However, we recognize that we need to tailor the prompts appropriately so the target audience fully understands the task at hand. Therefore, we developed a general Instruction and Helpful Hints card to be included in every deck to assist the participants in taking the first step without answering the prompt for them. This proved successful when the “Create your name in a different way” prompt resulted in one participant changing her name (see image) while another drew his name in a using animals. Both solutions were amazing and so different, it was great to see. In addition, we are using the Gallery section of the website and app as a launching pad to inspire others to start making.

How might you envision your idea spreading across geographies or cultures so that it inspires young people around the world to cultivate their creative confidence?

Square One will be available in web, mobile and print formats, as well as in multiple languages to cater to a global audience. Additionally, this idea would further spread across geographies or cultures via the online creative gallery that would showcase created work. A potential social component of this online gallery could also be incorporated, which would allow young people to give feedback on created work or share how one person’s work inspired them to create something on their own, fostering creative collaboration and therefore cultivating creative confidence.

In addition to using the online gallery to span across geographies, the presence of Square One will expand into popular social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and corresponding social media networks available in other countries. In the case of Facebook, it is proposed that Square One will have a “Page” as well as a Facebook application. Similarly, Square One would have a Twitter account to highlight created work and tweet daily challenges. Highlighted created work would also be broadcasted via a Square One Instagram account that people can follow as a source of inspiration.

What skills, input or guidance would you like to receive from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

Financial/cost guidance would be helpful.

Also, we would love for members of the Open IDEO community to test out Square One on their own or with young people ages 8-14. Feel free to print out the attached PDF of the cards we are currently prototyping with parents and after school programs. Any feedback you may have about language, process, etc. would be greatly appreciated!


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Photo of Maroun Jawiche

Great concept

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