The purpose of this study was to examine creative thinking and learning in arts-infused education by using the invention kit Makey Makey as a platform for Human-Centred Design Instrument (HCDI). Data were collected from 249 adolescents (n = 249) from a Hong Kong secondary school in a participatory design format. They were selected for the STEAM project, which is provided through the school curriculum to examine the level of attitude change towards creativity through the creation of human-centred musical instruments for different age cohorts, including children (aged 3–6), adults and elderly people (aged over 65). The research objectives were concerned with the development of collaborative creative thinking through an HCDI and with how students combined and transformed new knowledge for everyday application with meaning – a breakthrough in musical instrument design for human needs. Questionnaires, observation and interviews were conducted to examine the students’ level of creative thinking. Based on a modification of the creativity measurement framework from the Runco Ideational Behavior Scale (RIBS), a significant increase in the attitude change of students’ creativity was shown from the paired-sample t-test in the dimensions of originality, flexibility, fluency and elaboration through the STEAM project. Copyright © 2019 Springer Nature Switzerland AG.