ReInvent your Neighborhood at Makers and Co Festival Amsterdam

groupmaking

As part of a series of workshops engaging children in the art of social design, we held a session called ‘Reinvent your Neighborhood’ at the Makers & Co Festival in Amsterdam. The aim of Unexpect is to both to teach children new skills as much as to share the amazing inventions and designs children can create.
The 13 children, all of whom are members of the Weekend Academie in Slotervaart, ranged in age from 9 to 12. We kicked off with a creative energzier to get to know each other before introducing the topic of the workshop and getting down to mapping the different groups of people who might live in the neighbourhood including themselves and what their needs might be.

mapping4

Mapping people and challenges in the neighbourhood.

The children named challenges such as old ladies with heavy shopping crossing the road slowly, the police who couldn’t catch the robbers due to slow cars, mothers wondering when their children would come home at night and boys who couldn’t play football because there was dog poo on the grass.

problems3

For inspiration we checked out a number of recent inventions such as Google Glass, 3D printers, Sugru (one of my favorites), and Smart Highways from Roosegaarde Studio. Then the children choose one topic to work on and set out to imagine a solution.

The-Google-glass

LittleBits

For protoyping we worked with LittleBits, while they are attraction in themselves, they are also quite an effective rapid prototyping tool. Some children preferred to just draw their ideas or work with clay, carton, straws or of course a combination. Thinking with your hands!

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So what did they make?
My two favorite inventions probably would be the sound warning system for the dogs to keep them off the football field, for which the boys also made a prototype (using the littlebits sound senor and noise output). The other invention was for the mother worried about her children out late, through a repurposed phone, they could send coded light signals, red meaning ‘You need to come home now’ and green for ‘I am on my way’.

prototype2

Other inventions included a park bench on wheels for the old ladies, an air canon for rubbish and a ‘friend house’ for children with no friends.

 drawing1 protoype3

Showing their work

Thanks to Harriet Robijn my co-facilitator, the children of the weekend Academie and Mira de Graaf and Diana Krabbendam our hosts at the Makers & Co Festival.

Check out our Flickr Set of the workshop. http://www.flickr.com/photos/91070382@N02/
Photographs by ACHT film & fotografie

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What do children care about?

You’re 10 years old, you live in Dublin, and someone asks you:
What’s the one thing would you like to change in the world?
What do you think the children said, more toys, less school?
Not at all, this is what the children said:

An end to world hunger;  No more air pollution;
World Peace; that no-one has to lose family and friends;
a cure for cancer;  the rainforest to be saved.
No shortage of wild idealism!

Then inspired by a presentation of future technologies (here)
and their own imagination, the children sat down to invent
ways to solve their chosen issue.
With names like ‘The Yom’, ‘Wheels of the Future’ and ‘Beddy Bye’,
here are some of their designs:

EnviroCar-s

A car which breathes in Co2 and exhails oxygen. 

FoodMachine-s

The YOM, a food and drink maker against world hunger.

Self-WritingPen-s2

A pen that writes by itself for children with Dyslexia.

Killian-Car-s2

A car which drives on electricity created by the wheels hitting the road. 

Solar-Chariot-s

And a solar powered chariot.

Thanks to all the children in 3rd class and 5th class, to Mr. O Sullivan and Ms. Halligan and the principal Mrs. Moore, all at the Harold School in Glasthule in Dublin, for having us. www.theharoldschool.ie

What would your children design for you? (Can children become Social Designers?)

To an extent they already are! Children’s potential is oft overlooked in every field. Their capacity for empathy and creative thinking positions them perfectly as social designers. And let’s face it, we need all the help we can get. Unexpect hypothesis is, ‘Children can creatively solve some of the world’s problems’ (problems usually created by adults). We are researching this hypothesis through a series of design workshops and manifestations. Looking specifically at the questions:
Under which circumstances can children tap into their design potential?;
What types of social and environmental problems can children best work on?

This week in a prototype workshop with 16 children in the age range of 8-9 years, we worked on the topic ‘Designing for your Parents’  The workshop was about two hours in length.

massagemachine

A floating massage machine for father, as he suffers from a slipped disc (hernia).

We kicked off the workshop, with a game, to encourage creative thinking and feelings of empathy. (if you would like the workshop program, download it here Unexpect#2 (in Dutch). Then we invited the children to draw the outline of an adult in their lives and map onto it any problems, they knew of. Most children choose a parent or a grandparent. They described problems such as, broken hips, black lungs from smoking, red spots on hands, being too busy, always having to work and sadness due to divorce.

oma&opa

A 3d printed hart for Grandma and a wire for better hearing for Grandpa.

Then we looked at a number of new and future technologies and talked about their potential. Such as 3d printing, eye lenses which react to the wearers blood- sugar level, jet pack, Google’s self driving car, huge touch screens.

Screen Shot 2013-10-18 at 5.01.53 PM

Lenses which react to the wearers blood- sugar level, for diabetes patients.

Next up was to envisage in what way a new technology might provide a solution to one of the earlier mapped problems. Most children went eagerly to work and had plenty of ideas, a few children struggled. Such as the girl whose father was sad due to the divorce, she didn’t know how to help him with that in a structural way, another problem she perceived was the lack of color in her father’s wardrobe so she decided on an app to give him clothes advice every morning.

app

The clothes color advice app, on the right the different screens. 

rocket

A cigarette which turns into a rocket and takes off, as anti-smoking device

We closed the workshop by sharing solutions and followed up the next day with an evaluation and checking if there were any concerns from the home front and to check if all the children knew where they could go to if they felt troubled.

Through the workshop and evaluation we learned a number of things:

– the workshop scored high in the children’s estimation with girls scoring it higher than boys;
– of the four workshop parts, the opening game and designing solutions scored the highest, followed by the new technologies and as last the mapping or problems;
– the children are well aware of their parents and other adults problems
– children are motivated to alleviate parents distress or discomfort.

Questions that were raised:
– how do we deal with the privacy of issues raised by children revealing adults issues?
– how do we channel creative thinking into applicable solutions

If you have any thoughts or suggestions, we’d love to hear them, drop a comment or mail us at workshops (at) unexpect.nl

This is the second in a a series of test workshops for Unexpect. Unexpect cultivates young people’s creativity for beauty, resilience and solutions to social and environmental challenges. In a nutshell, ‘Social Design Education.’

unlogo

NairoBits

NairoBits, AddisBits, ZanziBits, MamaBits

Developing Talents

What started out with curiosity and a wish to share skills with those who had a story to tell, we founded NairoBits in 2000. Now almost 10 years later it has become something of an emporium of great projects, people and offshoots. It’s hard to describe the impact that this has had on all the people who have been involved. Mark Kamau’s Tedx Amsterdam speech does a good job of telling the story and I am thankful to him for that.

Mark Kamau, former student, now trainer

Web: www.nairobits.com
Blog: www.nairobits.wordpress.com
Alumni: www.nairobitsalumni.ning.com

Interactive Learning

Participatory learning for teenagers

Participatory Learning for teenagers

These are all programs in which I led the co-design process with (inter) national parties, designed much of the contents, most of the total learning experience, trained master trainers, teachers and facilitators to work with it and programmed the systems.

The World starts with Me

A complete sexual and reproductive health course for teenagers, originally co-designed with and for Ugandan youth in 2003, it has since been adapted for Vietnam, Cambodia, Kenya, Indonesia and Thailand.
Recently named as a best practice in sexual health education by UNESCO and forms the basis for the guidelines for the development of new curriculums on this topic world-wide.

Program: www.theworldstarts.org (Ugandan version only)

Learning about Living

Learning about Living

Virtual peer educators

This is a cross media program which supports the Nigerian national curriculum on HIV/Aids prevention and life skills. It runs in schools throughout Nigeria and has also been adapted for the Islamic North of Nigeria. It is fueled by animated peer educators and interactive activities for student and teacher, clearly documented and designed for ease of use. There is an accompanying DVD to guide teacher’s who not used to either computers or interactive teaching methodologies in the classroom.

To support the program and the difficult life questions that come up there is a free sms question and answer service and a telephone hotline service.
There are 15 main partners in this program.

Countries: Nigeria (South and North)
In the make: Senegal
Being discussed:  Morocco, Mexico, Burundi,

Program online: www.learningaboutliving.org
YouTube Video

Words over Weapons

Cartoons

An experiential, digital learning program on conflict prevention for young people in South Africa.
Used in schools in co-operation with the department of education in Johannesburg, Soweto and Pretoria. Included an online exchange program with schools in the Netherlands in 2007,8 through the making of comic strips online.

Program online: www.wordsoverweapons.com
Comic Maker Video

Designing peace programs