Young people making models and other things

Families get creative at the Institute of Imagination.

  • Annual reach: 20,000 individuals
  • Aims/outcomes: Developing skills, fostering innovation and supporting wellbeing through interdisciplinary learning experiences combining the arts, sciences and digital technologies.
  • How: Workshops and events at venues around London, the UK and internationally and partnership activities.

The Institute of Imagination (iOi) exists to champion and grow the power that imagination has to foster innovation, develop vital skills for the future and support the wellbeing of all generations, with children and families at its heart. They summarise their work as follows:

“Through a focus on the power of imagination we develop tangible skills (from coding and engineering to making and electronics) combined with the intangible skills needed throughout our lives (including creativity, collaboration and problem solving)."

"Underpinning this, we focus on wellbeing, so children and families have the confidence and resilience to shape their futures together."

The iOi’s approach encourages learning through constructivism, learning through play, and learning through doing using an iterative and participant-led led approach (influenced by child psychologist Alison Gopnik and educationalist Sir Ken Robinson, two of the iOi’s six Champions). Specialist facilitators introduce subjects, themes, tools and technologies and propositions to explore. They give minimal instruction, encouraging participants to develop their own solutions, collaboratively.

The iOi works by the following principles:

  • Collaborative. We believe in working together, sharing ideas and problem solving as a community, across generations.
  • Inter-disciplinary. We believe in the fundamental need for inter-disciplinary learning, combining the arts, sciences and digital technologies.
  • Ideas-driven. We believe in new ideas and think the best learning opportunities come through an iterative approach.
  • Playful. We believe there is enormous value in learning through play, we believe that through play vital skills for the future are developed.
  • Participant-led. We believe in experiential learning environments that strongly encourage participants to lead their learning, avoiding pre-determined outcomes.
Adult and child with a robot

As part of the Institute of Imagination’s Imagination Lab programme, there a selection of regular events catering to different groups in venues across London:

  • Lab Life: half-day family workshops, children aged 5-12
  • Lab Live: large-scale, one day, family events, children aged 5-12
  • Lab Lead: evening events for teachers and facilitators working with KS2 pupils
  • Lab Liftoff: one to three day camps for children to develop their skills, ages 8-12
  • Lab Late: evening events for adults to experiment and explore the lab’s themed learning content

Until 2019, the iOi ran a community programme for Lambeth residents, supported by the Rangoonwala Foundation: residents accessed free tailored activities, including a regular Tinkering Club and received discounted or free tickets for general iOi events at The Workshop.

There continues to be a Lambeth programme, ‘Lambeth Sparks’, supported by Walcot Foundation, which delivers tinkering clubs exploring digital creative learning in community venues in Lambeth for three years.