Creative Recess


Written by Jeff Budlong | Image by Christopher Gannon

KP Williams instructing ISU students

Assistant Teaching Professor KP Williams, left, visits with students during a session of creative recess at the Student Innovation Center.

Is it innovation? Or is it organized chaos?

That was the question posed by four Iowa State faculty members last spring as they devised a plan to bring together perspectives from across campus and create an interdisciplinary, student-led learning session.

“This opportunity for experiential learning is student-centric to the max,” said KP Williams, assistant teaching professor of leadership studies.

Each instructor taught their individual innovation or entrepreneurship courses separately on Tuesdays. But on Thursdays, all their students — from more than 10 majors in five colleges — came together in the Student Innovation Center for “creative recess.”

Conceived as a kind of innovative ideas incubator, instructors stood back as guides and mentors while letting students from different backgrounds work on topics of interest. Ideas eventually morphed into proposals for the college-by-college pitch off, an annual campus event in which students have 90 seconds to pitch a business idea to a panel of judges for a chance at a first-place prize of $5,000.

“In these groups, design students are immediately thinking about logos and sketching out product ideas. Business students are thinking about it practically and how to make it profitable. It really represents the real world where you bring in people who have the expertise to add to your team,” said Leila Ammar, associate professor of practice in architecture.

Creative recess: So, was it innovation or chaos? Ask the several creative-recess students who won their college competition and placed in the pitch finale.