Switched on Little Kids

Little Kids Day In (LKDI) at Scienceworks has been a great opportunity for the project team working on a new exhibition here for babies to 5 year olds to test some of our concepts and prototypes with our target audience.

At a recent LKDI I took the opportunity to ask children and their grown-ups about switches.

Pixel wall in Test Lab

After seeing how much small children enjoyed the pixel wall in our Test Lab maker space, we’ve had an idea on the boil of a ‘loose-part free’ version — a wall covered in light up switches to make patterns and pictures, and to feed that cheeky need all toddlers seem to have to flick every switch on and off once you’ve mastered the skill.

Our solution that fit within the ethos of the concept design and theme of construction-play was to have a wall of light up switches. (The exhibition will have no other push buttons or switches to activate or operate exhibits.)

My teammate, Charlie, put together a switch board with samples of different switches and off I went into the masses of little kids to ask their opinion.

Switch board — on, off, on, off, on, off, on…

Which switch?

I invited kids to play with my switch board: “I’d like to know what switches kids like best. Would you like to have a play?”

While the kids experimented and worked out how to operate each switch I chatted to their adult about the coming exhibition and some of the activities they could see in Test Lab that we were prototyping (wind tubes for flying foam objects, various blocks of different materials) and about our plans for a light up switch wall. Overwhelmingly the adults were excited and wanted to have a go at all the switches themselves.

The switches which made a satisfying ‘click’ noise when used were the clear favourites, also those that toggled left and right rather than the push in and out switches.

Now all we need to do it build a wall full of one type and hook them all up so they light up!