App ideas from kids: inclusion, world peace, and robot-making

A selection of prototypes, photos, and learnings from Design Club at a special CoderDojo

We recently joined CoderDojo London to deliver two days of workshops for 7–17 year-olds. We were hosted by UCL at Base KX, near Kings Cross.

There were tables dotted about, offering coding activities. There were computers everywhere. Except on our table. We we were unplugged. Okay, we had mobiles, which we used to make Marvel prototypes.

The brief

Design and prototype a helpful mobile app.

More than 30 kids worked on projects. We encouraged them to design a solution for someone they knew, or use persona that we provided.

They addressed an impressive range of design challenges. The kids set these themselves, including why they feel their challenge is important. See some of their prototypes below, and photos of their work further down.


Design challenge:

Our target user is called Mia (21) and we want to help her to find good books.

This is important because there are many books to choose from and Mia is busy.

By a 13 year-old


Design challenge:

Our target user is called Jeremy (47) and we want to help him to design a robot.

This is important because it is part of his job.

By an 8 year-old


Design challenge:

Our target user is called Joe and we want to help them to bring world peace.

This is important so the world can be a happy place.

By a 9 year-old


Design challenge:

Our target user is called Willow and we want to help her to find other disabled children and have fun.

This is important because there are children like Willow who are disabled and unable to do things that other children can.

By an 11 year-old


Two key learnings

1. The bigger the creative canvas, the better

On day 1, worksheet activities were split across two sides of A4. Some on the front, some on the back. Problem: during sketching on side two, kids kept turning over to side one, to see their development work. This disrupted flow.

On day 2, all activities were on one side of A3. Much better. Far easier for kids to see their empathy and ideation work while doing their design work.

2. Encourage the kids to go from making to mentoring

Learning by doing beats most teaching methods. Learning by teaching is even better. After some of the kids finished making their own prototype, we asked them if they’d like to mentor. Some did, and they did a great job.

Getting kids mentoring is great for three reasons:

  1. Through teaching, kids remember more of what they’ve learned.
  2. Kids add much-needed capacity to the mentoring team.
  3. Adults can learn a lot about how to interact with kids, by watching kids interact with each other.

Massive, massive thanks!

We had four amazing mentors join Design Club over the course of the two days. Rachel, Murat, Tom, and Umesh, you were brilliant. Thanks for guiding and inspiring the kids, you’re all superstars.

Thank you CoderDojo London for having us. Love your work. 🙌🏼