Katherine Mengardon is an education innovator and writer with 20 years of experience in developing online innovative education programs and resources. She is the author of the three Little Inventors non-fiction children’s books published by HarperCollins.
I have been developing educational programs for the past 20 years, working on innovative online resources that bring a real-life element to the classroom. For the past 4 years, I was also Chief Educator at Little Inventors.
Video on Don’t Stop Until you Play Enough
Being an artist/illustrator
My work mainly centers on capturing the essence of people and translating that into drawings – I do a lot of bespoke portraits, such as family portraits and family trees, or celebrities. I work from ordinary photos and work a composite image of my subjects.
I also do cat illustration, and my cat album covers (catified versions of the Beatles, Nick Cave, Blondie, Blur, Gainsbourg, Miles David, and more) were featured as part of the Meow Exhibition IV in Leuven for the MidZommer festival 2013 at the M Museum (major contemporary museum in Belgium). I have lots of Instagrams for my photography, baking, illustration, and also a funny page of translating famous album covers in French – U2 is toi aussi, Patti Smith is Patricia Lefevre and the Rolling Stones les pierres qui roulent… Instagram KaruskiColors
What are some of the products you worked on and organizations you have worked with?
I have worked on groundbreaking innovative classroom resources for the BBC, Google, Cartoon Network, GSK, NatWest, Little Inventors, Pearson, and Nesta to name a few. My aim is to open children’s eyes and minds to a new fun way of learning and give them the tools to prepare for a bright future.
Chief Educator and Head of Operations of Little Inventors
Little Inventors is a creative education company – its aim is to inspire children to use their imagination to think up ingenious invention ideas, then work with artists, makers, and designers to bring the most ingenious children’s ideas to life – and develop essential creativity life skills in the process!
The family scooter by wendy age 9
We launch challenges across the world with incredible partners (museums, brands, cultural powerhouses, and celebrities) and beyond – the Canadian government and the Canadian Space Agency even sent our little inventors’ ideas into space!
As part of the Little Inventors team, I looked after all content, including very popular educational programs. I have written numerous STEAM school educational resources for our high-profile partners: the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Natural Science and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Space Agency, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, Mr Men and Little Miss, Disney, Ocado, and several high profile Arts Council-funded projects. My focus was on Science, Literacy, Citizenship, and Art anchored in social consciousness, especially the environment.
The ambition is to inspire children to build confidence in their natural creativity and equip them with the problem-solving skills that will help them to tackle whatever tomorrow brings. Next stop – inventing on the curriculum!
The Little Inventor books
What are you planning next?
I’m writing another Children’s activity book for Alexandra Palace in the UK, about enjoying parks – all about play and caring for nature and the environment. It’s called Wild in the Park and should be out later this year.
Little Inventors was brilliant at showcasing the imagination of children and giving them the validation that their ideas matter. This has confirmed for me the importance of taking children’s ideas seriously, validating them, and inspiring them. I am now working on my next project, which kinda brings all of my experience together, all about bringing more creative thinking to the classroom – the idea is to explore people who use creative thinking in their jobs, of course in the arts, but also in science and more. I want to allow children and young people a chance to explore creative projects and maybe even collaborate with the artists! It’s very early days still but I’m getting incredible support for the idea, so watch this space. What I dream of is convincing Netflix to start an EDU channel. I don’t know why there is this idea that learning has to be serious and boring. Imagine if we treated education with the same care and desire to entertain? We all know children learn better when they have fun after all.
I am putting my concept to the test too, by collaborating with 12-year-old Anaya Hamid in New Jersey, she is an amazing illustrator with a strong style and talent. We are creating a book for early readers called the Cat of nine names about a stray cat that visits 9 different homes and has a different identity in each. I found Anaya when she entered the JK Rowling Ickabog competition on Twitter. I was so sure she would win and I was so gutted when she didn’t (still don’t know why!), that I offered to do a project with her.
Check out Anaya’s amazing Instagram:
I’m working on a novel for Young Adults called Perfect Imperfect, about two girls who meet across worlds, and who have to find their own perfect version of their imperfect life. It’s all about showing that we don’t need to change who we are, that perfection is a myth, and that we have value as individuals. Something that I feel a lot of young people need to hear these days.
I don’t have publishers for these yet, but I have a couple of ideas here anyway…
Katherine’s Contact Information
Interested in checking out more of the Rethinking Learning podcasts and reflections, click on the podcast tab at the top, the logo below, or go to https://barbarabray.net/podcasts/
For more information about Barbara’s new book, Define Your WHY, go to this page or click on the image of the book for resources, questions, and links.