Local community idealab.
Many great ideas comes from collaborations between people with different fields of knowledge. OpenIDEO is one example of a place where these collaborations comes to life. What if schoolkids at any age, and senior groups came together to solve problems or improve their local community? You would combine the technological skills of the youth with the experience of the elderly, to reach a common goal and to make social connections between the two age-groups.
How would you describe your idea in one sentence?
Involve schools and senior groups in idealabs/thinktanks to improve their local community by sharing experience in groups to reach a goal.
In every community there is challenges to be solved. Examples might be everything from traffic jams during rush-hours, to depopulation, to large amounts of stray cats and dogs and so on. My proposal is to connect schools at any age-level with senior groups, divide the participants into smaller groups (2 young and 2 elderly or 3 young and 3 elderly), and have a competition between the groups to find the best sollution to the problem if that session. Depending of the size of the task, the session/competition might last for a couple of hours to several months.
What you will get is 2 age groups and several areas of expertice colaborating to reach a common goal, learning from each other on the way. Depending of the task and the skills among the participants in the group, the proposed sollutions might involve apps, 3D computermodels, doing research on the internet, building real life prototypes, doing echonomical calculations and so on. Not only will exchange of knowledge happen right there and then, just as important is the social connections that will emerge within the group, that might be useful later on, if lets say a elder needs help with setting up an email account.
Remember to give the winning team of the competition a nice reward!
What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to test any assumptions you might have about your idea?
I don't see myself having the possibility to try this out on my own. However, I have been attending similar projects when I was a student myself, with students representing everything from nursing to engineers, graphic designers and computer programmers.
It was really insightful, I'm to this date still to a certain degree friends with everyone in my group,
What I felt was the most important aspect was that it wasn't just a educational scenario we solved, but a real problem, and that at least the winning team, or maybe the best teams, got their projects tested out in real life. I feel confident that both young and elder would feel proud of saying "you remember that problem we had here before? I fixed that!"