Design a tomato greenhouse that helps me to grow tomatoes

Prototyping a new Design Club project, and throwing Lego into the mix!

Design Club at Lab Live: Metropolis

Design Club has been invited to run a workshop at Lab Live: Metropolis on 18 June, at the Institute of Imagination.

Lab Live is a family event, ideal for children aged 5 to 12. Workshops are run by a range of makers, offering interactive activities on a drop-in basis, encouraging children to explore their imaginations.

Materials for the session

Planning a new project

Up to now, Design Club projects have been focused on creating mobile apps.

Building on the mini project from the Ada College CoderDojo, and weaving in the metropolis theme, I sketched out a new project: Design a space.

The Design Club starting point for a project goes like this: Design [a thing] that helps [a person] to [do something]. Parameters can be broad, or more specific. Given the Lab Live age group, and the theme, a start point could be design a den that helps your best friend to concentrate on their homework. Or, design a shed that helps your dad to relax after work.

Lego was the obvious choice of building material. Children love Lego. We all love Lego. The idea is to combine Lego walls and structures with sketches. Adding stickers to the flat bits, offering the chance to add drawings with more details.

Children are also encouraged to think about what goes into building green, sustainable spaces. There was a new addition to Design Club, “design prompt” cards (see below). We had three to start with, but many more prompts need to be created.

A “design prompt” card

Testing the new project

This is the great thing about having a weekly after school club. New ideas and projects can be prototyped and tested regularly.

Project briefs from the children

Here’s how the session broke down:

  1. 5 minutes — Quick introduction.
  2. 5 minutes — The children came up with possible start points for projects, then read their ideas out loud to the group. My favourite: Design a tomato greenhouse that helps me to grow tomatoes :)
  3. 15 minutes — In pairs, and a three, the group got on with planning. Framing their design challenges, creating a profile of their user, and brainstorming ideas.
  4. 20 minutes — Prototyping, using lego!
  5. 5 minutes — Present creations, explaining why things look and work the way that they do.

We’ll do the same session again next Thursday, with a few tweaks. I have a few thoughts on refining the session. But overall, it went well.

One girl asked:

“Sir, can we start a Lego club?”