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Laguna kids get first taste of creative lab

Nonprofit designed to stir children's imaginations aims to boost creativity in a variety of areas.

March 06, 2014|By Bryce Alderton
  • Izzy Gray, left, and Mia Pehar build their "plastikobots" during the Child Creativity Lab with artist Claudio Garzon at the Boys and Girls Club of Laguna Beach.
Izzy Gray, left, and Mia Pehar build their "plastikobots"… (Don Leach, Coastline…)

Children at the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach took recycling to a new level Monday afternoon.

Using everyday items made of plastic, such as bottle caps and laundry detergent container tops, kids created their own robots, or "plastikobots," during the Child Creativity Lab's kickoff workshop.

The Child Creativity Lab is a startup mobile nonprofit designed to stir children's imaginations and strengthen their problem-solving skills.

Founder Peter Chang worked 10 years in business and marketing but changed careers as he raised two children, ages 3 and 5.

"The kids gave me the stimulation to go after something related to them," the Irvine resident said.

Creativity, Chang said, is not limited to artistic disciplines, but extends into other areas — whether it's a professional navigating office politics or a child figuring out how to reach a cookie on the kitchen counter.

"I was taught that you are creative or you are not, but that is not the way it is," Chang said. "If you exercise and work at it, you can increase the ability to be creative."

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Creativity is also a quality valued by top executives, Chang learned.

The lab cited a 2010 study by IBM, which interviewed more than 1,500 chief executives from 60 countries and 33 industries. The executives said creativity trumped other leadership qualities such as integrity, influence and openness.

"Learning is not always in school, in a stressful environment," Chang told the group of about 15 elementary school-aged children gathered at the Boys & Girls Club.

Chang invited professional artist Claudio Garzón to help guide the children as they built their robots. Garzón regularly strolls along the Los Angeles River, collecting bottle caps and similar items that otherwise could end up in the ocean.

Environmental stewardship is also crucial to the lab's message, revealing that what some consider throwaways can be made into something beautiful.

The children sketched a design of their robots on paper, then, with help from a few employees from Kohl's who were volunteering at the club that day, glued parts onto the base — half of a plastic egg atop a laundry cap.

Kids could paint their robots and add any accessories. Some used round bottle caps as wheels.

Makena Minailo, 10, used a piece of decorative wrapping paper as a veil, reminiscent of a bride's accessory.

Koveika Nelson, 7, inverted the base so the flat portion was upward and the round part was the bottom.

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