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13.3.2023 | Jamie Lee |

Dreams can foster creative confidence: How MyMachine inspires students to believe in their ideas

How can we bring different levels of students together to build creative confidence through project-based learning? We spoke with the Co-Founder and Managing Director of MyMachine, Piet Grymonprez, to talk about the MyMachine methodology, their impact, and future directions.

MyMachine Global Foundation is a non-profit organisation that aims to foster creative confidence in students through project-based learning. They do this through the MyMachine 3-step methodology - first, children from primary school invent their own Dream Machine idea; then, higher education students design a concept for the idea; finally, technical secondary students make a working prototype. This award-winning methodology allows students from different generations to co-create, learn, and be creative together. 

Piet Grymonprez, the Co-Founder and Managing Director of MyMachine, sees fostering creative confidence as one of the main goals of the MyMachine process. “While we see that children around the ages of 5-7 years old are full of confidence and whatever challenge you throw at them, they’ll have a go, as we grow up we tend to lose this ability to believe in our own ideas.” Likewise, in the foreword of the book written by Piet Grymonprez and Filip Meuris, What is your dream machine?, Sir Ken Robinson emphasises that “historically, and for a variety of reasons, cultivating creativity has not been a high priority for education.” He applauds MyMachine for their approach in prioritising creativity: “The lessons of MyMachine are that creativity can and must be nurtured in all young people as an essential part of their education and their birthright.” 

Sir Ken Robinson: “The lessons of MyMachine are that creativity can and must be nurtured in all young people as an essential part of their education and their birthright.” 

How have you seen your impact?

MyMachine has been successful in spreading these lessons worldwide, creating 1,3 million student-hours of impact, touching the lives of 17, 000 students in 49 countries! But their impact does not stop at the student level. Piet sees their impact on the level of students, educators, and society as a whole. 

For example, Arne is one of the students who participated in a MyMachine programme when he was 12 years old. For Arne, seeing university engineering students come to his class to design a concept of any Dream Machine was a turning point in his life. In that moment, he decided that he wanted to become a product design engineer. Six years later, he enrolled in university to become an industrial product designer and was able to participate in MyMachine again as a university student. Arne’s story is a clear testimonial of how MyMachine is inspiring and preparing students. 

MyMachine is also beneficial for educators as it provides them with practical projects to assign to their students. For example, one vocational secondary school teacher shared that year after year, it is difficult for him to come up with more project ideas for his students. Finding MyMachine was wonderful because he did not have to come up with project ideas anymore, as students were assigned Dream Machine ideas from primary school students to create. University professors have also vouched for MyMachine as the perfect assignment for students to develop skills for future jobs because it requires them to listen to their customers. And in this situation, their customers are brutally-honest primary school students. 

Finally, MyMachine is impacting society as it works to change the education system and is inspiring companies. Piet believes that project-based learning is a powerful instrument for changing the education system as it helps students to build creative confidence. They can take this confidence wherever life takes them- as long as they believe in their own ideas and have faith that their own ideas have the potential to make a difference. And there are companies teaming up with MyMachine to learn from its effective creativity eco-system, and bring some of that magic inside their operations. 

What’s your favourite Dream Machine?

Piet would say that his favourite machine is the next one that hasn’t been created yet. But if he had to choose one notable machine, it would be Robotemocion created by Isabella, an eight year old from Mexico. The purpose of this machine is to help kids to understand and express their emotions. It was part of our annual MyMachine DreamsDrop Campaign which gives children from around the world the opportunity to upload their Dream Machine drawings to our world map of ideas. This idea was chosen, and college students from Belgium created a proof-of-concept. 

How does MyMachine scale?

MyMachine scales through a franchising model, allowing organisations to start their own MyMachine chapters in their local context. Currently, they have 13 chapters in 3 different continents. These chapters are typically started by community partners who are looking to improve society through education, and each chapter has at least one chapter coordinator who facilitates the programme. The chapter franchising model is an effective way to scale for MyMachine because it gives coordinators the freedom to adapt the programme to fit their local context. In addition, since each chapter is locally funded, this ensures that there is local engagement. 

And MyMachine really can be used in (almost) any context! As long as the partner aligns with the core principles of MyMachine, they can really take off with the methodology. As more MyMachine stories are shared, the programme can be scaled to more countries. And one way that MyMachine has been sharing their stories is through HundrED! MyMachine is part of the HundrED Hall of Fame and has been a very active member of our growing community. 

Where do you see your innovation in 20 years?

In 20 years, Piet hopes that many young people from Gen Z and Gen Alpha will have found their creative confidence. "Whether they will have become dancers, product designers, start-up entrepreneurs, or community builders, I hope they will put their passions and talents to work, propelled by their ideas to create this better future we all need to design together. It’s our mission to continue to put MyMachine at the service of this movement, at the service of teachers and professors who inspire a love of learning in their students by engaging in project-based learning".

“It’s our mission to continue to put MyMachine at the service of this movement, at the service of teachers and professors who inspire a love of learning in their students by engaging in project-based learning."

MyMachine is part of the HundrED Hall of Fame. If you are working on an innovation in education, apply to be considered for the next Global Collection

Photo Credits: © MyMachine Global Foundation. © MyMachine Catalonia (Spain). Dream Machine: La Màquina Màgica, the magical-giving-gifts-machine.