Make, Create and Innovate! - part of the Tech Art Fair at the Ontario Science Centre

In partnership with the Ontario Science Center, we presented Make, Create and Innovate! - a 3 day pop-up event part of the Tech Art Fair.

Saturday, February 17 - Monday, February 19

Our goal of this event was to share our design process with kids and parents alike. Similar to our previous pop-ups of this nature, we wanted people to not only understand the design process but have them understand how they can take an active role creating products from start to finish.

The enthusiasm kids and parents showed to create future products and interactions with us was astounding. Through the workshop environment we created, kids imagined, sketched and drew future devices, wearables and garments. While prototyping your own future device was definitely the go-to design activity for most, we were truly inspired by those that took to the creation of the secret code generation worksheet.

Now the Ontario Science Center is a super interesting place with an incredible amount of things to see and do. Surprising, in a good way, was the time that kids and their parents took to prototype and experience the design process with us. We’ve been told that kids typically spend 4 minutes at an exhibition - our experience was that of 30 - 45 minute of focused time where they worked easily together detailing and then sharing out their work with us.

For some kids, this time span became even longer. From designing a device or wearable to then participating in an interview. Over the first 2 days we included 52 interviews of kids in our effort to crowdsource the ‘sunshine garment’; a garment that absorbs the goodness of the sun while also protecting you from any harmful effects.

On Monday, Family Day, we made and created a prototype of the garment onsite at the Ontario Science Center. The feedback, thoughts and suggestions on the type of garment that was most suitable for kids and parents was shared out for a first round of feedback. Based on the success of this we’re looking forward to re-iterate on it and continue the interview and re-iteration of it in a follow-up event.

One thing that we were reminded of, and quite frankly still shaking our heads about. These same kids are ones which people typically say they can’t get off their screens, at this event that wasn’t the case. Kids imagined the future, they visualized scenarios in which a device was no longer a ‘phone’ but a holographic device that allowed them to navigate the city in new and interesting ways.

Kids didn’t talk about the games that they wanted to play, they wanted devices that included video chat, maps, alarm clocks and notifications, quick access to their google classroom and tools. While there was a lot of unicorn and rainbows, there was also a lot of ingenuity. We heard many comments like the following: A parents would comment ‘Now that’s a nice drawing honey’ but when asked what the child had drawn the response was ‘This is my drawing app’. Cool! What would you do with this app? How does it work? ‘Well, I’d upload to Facebook, kids could download it and either use my drawing as a starting point or begin again with one of their own.’ These kids weren’t colouring, they were innovating!

    We were left with 100s of future device drawings and in the mayhem of the day, especially on the last day which was family day, we weren’t able to talk with each of the kids in terms of what their drawings were, or what exactly they had in mind with what they created. We do know for sure though that none of these are simply drawings. They are each in essence a call for change in the way that we design the devices and products that we hand over to kids. These prototypes didn’t include simply a list of games and apps that we constantly say these kids can’t get enough of. These kids wanted to create not consume. With their hacking mindset and ability they can already create on their own something better than what we can imagine for them. I would say one of the most memorable comments was from a boy that drew the holographic device with a map to help him navigate through his day. When asked how did he want to feel when he was using it he said ‘modern, but just normal’.

    To the future we go, we are humbled and on any bad day with a client we will remember the ‘I love yous, and the many mini hugs we received’. It’s not us that you need to thank little ones. We’re truly inspired and honoured to have had a chance to host you as the next generation of inventors and dreamers. As designers if only each day we had an opportunity like this to hear and experience what kids truly want and need the better the world of design would be. Their optimism was shown to us in the form of unicorns and rainbows, we just need to ask more questions of the kids to help us understand what these mean. We need them, not us to show them how to design something meaningful for them.

      Special thanks goes to our collaborators who shared with the audience a range of activities, workshops and work in progress:

      • Radical Norms who engaged everyone to explore new ways to design electronics by involving human activity and interactions.

      • Carrie Hague who showed parents how to tell engaging stories, and kids how to explain their experiences through stories.

      • OCAD U new and emerging designers who took turns over the 3 days of the event to share out their project work in progress. Kids and parents were able to test and comment on initial concepts and ideas. This provided a rare opportunity for the students to share their work in a public forum, especially useful for those looking for feedback from Generation Visual; the cohort of kids after millennials.

      Presented by Daily Goods Design LABS

      @dgdesignlabs @RennDGFTech