The goal of the project is to design Carrie Furnaces, an abandoned steel mill now run by a non-profit organization, as an industrial park that will allow for more public access and freedom. Currently the site is very closed off from the community; there is one main access point that is not apparent and the site is mostly comprised of guided tours during the day and local events on the weekends. Our job as a class is to propose a plan for the site that would make Carrie more accessible to the public and illustrate a clear vision in terms of its function, layout, and relationship to the community. My individual project revolved around bringing people into the site and to the surrounding communities through development of a community bike path that runs through the site and along the adjacent river.
EXPLORING & RESEARCHING THE SITE
As previously mentioned, my class did a considerable amount of research before actually undertaking any kind of site plan or overall concept for the park. Visiting the Carrie Furnaces site (depicted top right) was incredibly useful, as I was able to gain an understanding of the scale, the history, and the many feelings I experienced while being there, both alone and on tours. We then made small boards that researched individual stories of Carrie (depicted bottom right); some about the history of Pittsburgh steel, some about the processes of making steel, and some about the social and cultural issues that emerged and developed in and around Carrie Furnaces. Finally, we did group exercises of mapping out Carrie and visualizing where possible interventions could take place (left). All of these experiences and exercises aided in us, as individuals and as a group, in better understanding and respecting the site for what it is now and where we see it growing and developing in our projects.
PAIR CHARRETTES: DEVELOPING A VISION
In order to gain more insights into what interventions and plans would make sense at Carrie, we split up into three groups of two and created a site plan with our thesis, goals, and interventions visualized on 24 by 36 inch boards. Our approach veered more on the educational and guided side of the spectrum. We were particularly inspired by the environmental impacts of the steel industry, and worked on how we could illustrate these interventions in various parts of the site.
OUR PLAN FOR CARRIE
After each of our groups presented our charrettes, we decided that we could combine the best and most cohesive parts of our visions to make one overall vision and thesis for the site. We focused on the concepts of respect, freedom, and discovery, and used spectrums to determine how great our modifications should be, how much information we should provide, and how recreational the experience should be. Each of our six projects are also mapped out on our site plan. My project dealt with the riverfront area, namely the bike path, connections to the greater area, the space outside of our museum, and the Hot Metal Bridge restoration (currently not depicted on the map).
WAYFINDING SYSTEM & MOOD BOARD
The signage and wayfinding system I created will informationally and spatially connect Carrie Furnaces to the greater community. The system will offer more specific information than what is presented on the map, including nearby bike trails, relative distances between sites, and information about local programs, eateries, and historical sites. The system ultimately serves as a spatially critical supplement to the information found on the map, and in the tourism booklet, and supports my project's overall goal of encouraging exploration within and outside of Carrie Furnaces. The mood board serves as a guide for materials and themes for developing areas around Carrie, such as the railway bike path extension and the piazza area in front of the museum. Both ultimately aim to unify the system, bring people to Carrie, encourage exploration, and spatially designate areas around the Carrie site.
FINAL PRESENTATION: THE BIKE & TOURING SYSTEM
Above includes the final Braddock Booklet, map, and mood board. The map intends to geographically connect Carrie to the greater community and illustrate the many possible options for commuting to, from, and around the site. One intervention of the bike path system includes extending the path along the river in front of Carrie Furnaces, and connecting this path to pre-existing paths across the river and adjacent to the site.
INDIVIDUAL PROJECT BOARDS
Depicted above are some of the final boards of my colleague's projects, including my own Riverfront and Bike Path poster. Other projects that were developed include an interactive projection installation within our Carrie Museum (second from left), interactive rooms within Carrie that explore scale, materials, and process of making steel (third from left), "exhale locations" which are areas placed throughout the site that encourage individual and reflective thought about one's experience (fourth from left), and renovation of the site's warehouse which will now serve as an events and workshopping space (farthest).
THE BRADDOCK BOOKLET
The Braddock Booklet is a tourism guide that I created very early on in my individual project. Beginning as an artifact that could be found in the Carrie Museum, the booklet became a useful connector between Carrie Furnaces and the greater community. Braddock is a town just under a mile away from the Carrie site. It has close historical ties to Carrie, as many people who worked there and in the Pittsburgh steel industry lived in Braddock. Like the wayfinding system, the booklet intends to thematically connect Carrie to the greater community and encourage exploration and tourism in the area.
KEY OF SITE TOPOGRAPHY
I created this map to help visualize the collection of interventions made by myself and one of my colleagues along the riverfront and close by to the site.
HOT METAL BRIDGE
The Hot Metal Bridge is one of the most important physical links between Carrie and the greater community. As many bikers ride along the Great Allegheny Passage trail, Carrie would have access to a far greater number of people if they were to offer a quicker and safer route over to the site from the Waterfront area. The bridge is historically tied to Carrie and is already perfectly set up to become this physical link to the communities opposite the site, across the Monongahela. It also offers one of the best vantage points of Carrie Furnaces from afar. Modifications include bringing the bride up to code, adding wooden slats in between the tracks, creating window cutouts to see off the bridge, and adding signage from the wayfinding system to opposite ends of the bridge.
RAILWAY BIKE PATH EXTENSION
The bike path extension is a physical manifestation of bringing Carrie Furnaces closer to the community. Similar to the Hot Metal Bridge, the path will offer a new perspective of the Carrie site that most people do not usually get to experience, and will allow for more intrigue and encouragement for exploration. The path will increase accessibility of the site by opening up the riverfront area to public biking and pedestrian traffic. Currently, the lack of accessibility to foot and bike traffic is an issue preventing many people from commuting over to Carrie. With the combined development of the Hot Metal Bridge and the railway bike path, Carrie will appear to a much larger demographic. Modifications include adding a switchback path down to the riverfront, extending the ramp behind the museum, adding a bike path, and adding stepping stones for walkers.
The piazza area is a major threshold between Carrie Furnaces and the greater community. Because of this, it is crucial that it is developed in a way that encourages people to pause and not simply bike past it. Attention must be given to this space in order to achieve the overall goal of connecting the Mon Valley area with Carrie. Accomodations for bikers and pedestrians are considered, as well as an overall designation that this space is a transition space; one that embodies a fluid shift between the community, the bikepath, and Carrie Furnaces. Design of the museum and path extension was a collaboration between myself and my colleague, Jasper Tom.
Reactive Spaces + Media Architecture
Reactive Spaces and Media Architecture is a class I took during my junior year at CMU. Taught under the Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology (IDeATe) program, this class explores the concepts of reactive spaces and installations from a technological and design standpoint. During this class I collaborated with architects, human-computer interaction majors, and computer science majors on various projects. Below are three projects I created with various teams of people, all different in the way they approach interactive and informative spacial installations.
Project 1: Trickle- A Responsive Lighting Installation Dealing with Public Wi-Fi Dangers
The goal of our project was to inform people about the risks of using a public wifi network. We created a lighting installation that detects devices using public wi-fi and, after this detection, responds with a lighting pattern that tracks and follows the user. It is also able to detect which app the user has open, responding with lighting color changes that correspond to the apps visual identity and a notification sound in the environment representing a notification received from this app. View our Process Blog.
Project 2: Lightwall Pinwheel Installation
In this project, my partner and I tapped into a pre-existing API of this "lightwall", at a local library, and created an interactive installation. We attached a motor to a pinwheel and connected the blowing force data collected to the animations of the lightwall API. We put our focus on the kids at the library, making our installation into a crafts project where kids can make their own pinwheels and learn about wind energy. This project was incredibly rewarding, as we were able to actually install our creation on site and see how kids interacted with it. View our Process Blog.
Project 3: Movie Theater Projection Animation
The goal of this project was to connect viewers inside the movie theater to people outside of it. The concept came from the idea of "seeing the invisible" and breaking thresholds between groups of people through projection and thematic animation. We hoped to inspire curiosity and intrigue with the installation's scale, content, and locational placement. View our Process Blog.
Aspire is a digital learning tool that aids users, specifically PNC mass-affluent customers, with bridging the gap between short-term spending habits and long-term financial management. Because Aspire is primarily a learning experience, our group focused on maintaining the motivation and sustaining engagement of customers using our tool.
Left: Kate Martin Middle: Gillan Johnson Right: Amanda Johnson
Getting Started with Aspire
Finding value and motivation in online, financial management is one of the biggest reasons why people have trouble envisioning their future, and strategically saving for it. Aspire shows customers how long-term goals, such as saving for a child's college education, can be a less daunting task than it needs to be. We achieve this through drawing parallels between their daily spending habits and their long-term savings plan for college.
Saving for College: Our Paradigm Case
Saving for college is one of the most common long-term financial goals that people have. It's also one that incorporates many different people within and outside a family. However, the current financial planning landscape does not afford these interactions and joint decisions to exist within their platforms. Aspire focuses on collaboration in long-term goals as a primary source of engagement and motivation for users.
Assessing the Stakeholder Landscape
One of the first exercises we did while brainstorming our concept was mapping out the stakeholders and services involved in financial planning. This helped us to visualize the relationships of different people, their interactions, and how we could leverage their skills and motivations.
Applying Learning Theories
As learner experience design was the main guiding principle of our concept, we synthesized various learning theories developed by designers, anthropologists, and psychologists such as Julie Dirksen, Susan Ambrose, and Bernice McCarthy. This synthesis acted as our model of development throughout the various stages of our project, including research, ideation, prototyping, and rendering of our final product.
Developing a Visual Language
Visual and written language, particularly in a banking setting where trust is essential, were incredibly crucial components to our project. We spent several days developing color palettes, testing dialogue and written feedback that Aspire would provide to its users, and setting a trustworthy yet approachable typeface for our platform.
Mapping the User Experience
For several weeks, we focused on the customer's journey through the Aspire tool. With our main focuses of engagement, motivation, and overall enjoyment, we mapped out all the possible interactions that a customer might encounter within the Aspire tool, constantly reaffirming that interest and value would not be lost.
Our Design Approach
With user learning and growth as our primary goal for the Aspire tool, we chunked the user experience incrementally so that as customers progress through a long-term goal, they gain skills, knowledge, and confidence. We incorporated several learning theories and scaffolding techniques into our journey map.
Using the Aspire Goal Planning Tool
Thinking about a goal that ends 10 or 20 years down the line, especially one you have to plan financially for, is incredibly challenging for many people. However, Aspire takes the approach of breaking smaller tasks down incrementally, so that saving for something like college or retirement seems achievable no matter what stage of the process you are in. Through our designed, digital experience, we motivate customers by helping them set manageable goals, connecting other individuals involved in the process such as their children or spouse, and rewarding their incremental achievements.
Shuffle is a collaborative project I created with a fellow designer during my sophomore year at CMU. The goal of the project is to create a system that can become an element of what we see as the "studio of the future" for designers. My partner and I decided to create a type of prototyping software that merges the physical and digital worlds of modeling. This merging will allow for more informed design decisions and offer a clearer overall picture for the designer.
Shuffle Demonstration Video
Sketches of Studio Space Flow
Before we created Shuffle, my partner and I explored our own studio space during an exercise that required us to reconfigure the studio in a way that was beneficial to all students and teachers as well as conducive to both individual and collaborative work.
Combining Physical/Digital Prototyping
After we explored different ways of reconfiguring the space (drawing, SketchUp, physical movement of desks, etc.) we eventually decided that a way to facilitate this process, or finding a way that combines all of these methods, would be a great basis for our “studio of the future” project, so we decided to continue with this concept of studio redesign and eventually created Shuffle.
Working with the Velcro Wall
My partner and I decided to play around with more hands-on modeling, so we worked with paper models of the studio desks, tape, and velcro. We worked on a grid system which we laid out with tape on the velcro wall. Was we were working with this method, we realized how easy it was to make quick iterations of desk layouts and take photographs of them.
Through this rapid prototyping, we realized how crucial physical prototyping is to our concept for designing a “studio space of the future,” as we did not want our concept to rely fully on digital or VR technology. Our solution is an integration of these two worlds of prototyping, which offer designers more flexibility in their prototyping.
Digital Rendering of Studio Space
Modeled in SketchUp CAD software. Created by Alex Palatucci and Gillan Johnson.
Mapping User Flow Pathways
Connecting to Shuffle Technology
Viewing physical iterations digitally, easily finding patterns and mapping flow.
Using Digital 3D Mapping
Creating layered experiences of prototyping through digital and physical perspectives and tools.
A project exploring the concept of intervening within an environment in order to enable private conversations within a public setting.
Exploring Spaces on Campus
The first phase of this project entailed visiting different locations on campus and getting a sense of their public and private attributes. This exercise enabled us to get a sense of the kinds of human interactions that took place, and if the space either encouraged them or discouraged them from happening. I looked at an eating area in our university center, an outside seating area protected by hedges and trees, and the eating/sitting/working area next to the tennis courts.
Crafting Small Scale Models
During the later stages of the project we explored different concepts of an object that could intervene in a particular space and bring qualities that we found useful or enjoyable from another space. I explored an eating area in our university center that was divided and partitioned in interesting ways and overlooked our pool area. With this, I tried to bring the elements of privacy, corners, and awareness of surroundings in order to add a level of comfort and safety for people trying to have private conversations within a public setting.
Small & Large Scale Models
The final phase of the project involved constructing a life size model of our object in order to fully feel the effects it has on users within the space. My small scale model was constructed out of modeling clay and my large scale model was constructed with flexible corrugated cardboard and hot glue. It was a very interesting experience to see how people reacted to the experience of using my large scale model.
Intervening in Real Space
As my concept is not easily able to be put into an actual space due to its size and form I, in addition to creating a small scale and section model of the form, used photoshop to insert the model into an actual space in order to get a better understanding of the possible experiences and conversations one may have while using it.
The Final Large Scale Section Model
As the final form, if true to scale based on the small scale models, would have been close to seventeen feet long, I decided to create a section of the model that embodied the key characteristics such as the opening, the curves, and many other elements.
During the summer of 2016 I interned at Flow Asia, a web and graphic design agency located in Beijing, China. Working at Flow was as great experience, as I was exposed to various facets of design including websites, visual identity, and branding. I was also granted the privilege of observing and participating in client meetings, which was a wonderful way to develop my skills in collaboration and communication.
Seeing the Invisible
Seeing the Invisible explores the concept of scale, within the context of objects relating to people in space. Task one involved building our own microscope machines using our phone cameras and small lenses. Task two was to take pictures of very small things using our microscope machines. Task three was to build a 1 to 1 scale model of one of the photographed objects; I chose a safety pin head. Task four was to make a hand held scale model of the object. Task five was to make a 100 to 1 scale model of the object. The final task was to render the model at 1000 to 1 scale using Photoshop.
Phase 1: Building a Microscope to Look at Small Things
In order to “see the invisible,” we each created our own microscope machines using our cell phones and a small magnifying lens, which we placed over our phone camera lens. Since manually holding the phone while trying to view small objects wasn’t precise and caused blurry images to be taken, we had to find a way to stabilize the phone and develop a mechanism that allows the user to view the object from various small distances. Assembly of the microscope machine involves 1. Inserting the glass slide into the slide holder, 2. Placing the slide in the main body of the machine, 3. Placing the phone into the large slot of the main body, and 4. Adjusting the elastic connected to the holder and main body to focus lens.
Phase 2: Observing and Photographing Small Things Under the Microscope
During this phase, I gathered lots of things from my house and studio, and began to look at sections of them under the microscope. This phase of the project was very interesting to me, as I was able to develop a newfound understanding of what each of these objects was, how it was manufactured, and how much detail went into it. I eventually chose the safety pin head as my object to model, as it had the most interesting form and did not rely on color as its most distinguishing feature. Numbered items are arranged from right to left (1: Nail Clippers, 2: Pink earring, etc.)
Phase 3: Modeling the Safety Pin Head at Hand Held Scale (10 to 1)
Experimenting with materials, abstraction, and technique were some of the most interesting and important components of this stage of the project. Iterating on the hand-held size model of the safety pin head forced me to consider how close in appearance and quality I should represent the form and when an element is not true enough to the original form, as these judgements will change as the scale of the modeled object changes.
Modeling "Pea Sized" Scale Digitally
While working on the hand held model, I rendered the safety pin head on SketchUp and later on SolidWorks, so that it could later be 3D printed. This model represents the 1:1 scale model, and is depicted in the final prototype images below.
Phase 4: Modeling at “Fiat” Scale (100 to 1)
One of the biggest challenges that I experienced during this project was finding ways of dealing with the curves of the safety pin head form. I experimented with many different techniques and found several that had potential to create the form I was intending. I worked with circular forms to help create the curves of the top part of the form, and iterated on it many times before finding a shape that truly embodied the essence of the curve.
Final 100 to 1 Scale Model
Materials used include corrugated cardboard and packaging tape
Phase 5: Modeling at “Blimp” Scale (1000 to 1)
To visualize this scale, I created a Photoshop rendered model of the safety pin head and placed it in the context of people as a reference for size. This was a simpler way to understand how the scale of something affects the way people interact with it. One can imagine that someone looking at a safety pin head that is 1:1 scale would handle it with greater care than if it were 1000:1 scale.
1 to 1, 10 to 1, and 100 to 1 scale models of the safety pin head.
Environments Design Studio
My environments design studio course focuses on "investigating, understanding, and materializing invisible and intangible phenomena and relationships, such as social interaction, infrastructures, and systems, through new forms of probe, display, and interface." Below are four projects I completed throughout the course.
In this two-week long study, guided by Frances Carter and Dan Lockton, we talked about the affordances or functional qualities of objects we encounter on a daily basis. Throughout the workshop, we asked ourselves questions like, Is the current function different than the intended function? Does the object enable the behavior it intended or is it a hinderance? How does the object fit into the greater environment? and so on.
Project 3: Affordances "Walkshop"
We explored different spaces, corners, ditches, and rooms across campus. The conversations we had on our walk were not simply about what the thing looked like and how it was used; we started analyzing the people that come across it every day, how it’s deteriorated or changed over time, and how it enables or hinders particular interactions to take place.
Project 3: Individual Study of Affordances
With our newfound perspectives for observing things and their affordances, we were set the task of going out by ourselves and performing field research on different affordances we observe throughout our day. We looked at all kinds of spaces, shops, objects, thresholds, and environments.
Project 3: Individual Study Cont.
The ultimate goal of the exercise was to rigorously study and take notes on the things we experience every day but don't really consider their effect on us and the environment they inhabit.
Project 4: Intelligent Environments- What would SAM say?
The intelligent environments project explores issues arising around design’s interaction with AI. I collaborated with another environments student, Jasper Tom, and together we conceived of an "intelligent friend" to guide you through social situations. The goal of the project was to simulate what an intelligent environment, or intelligent technology embedded within an environment, might feel like.
Project 4: SAM- The Intelligent Friend
Project 4: SAM- The Intelligent Friend
Univers Typeface Study
During my Communications course sophomore year I studied Adrian Frutiger's typeface, Univers. The first exercise involved examining the entire alphabet and number sequence of this typeface and finding particular parts of a character or number that truly embodied the essence of Univers. Some commonly identified features of this typeface include it's thick and uniform strokes. The second exercise involved creating a video using AfterEffects that includes the history and important qualities of Univers.
The Final 3 by 3 Grid
Phase 1 of the assignment dealt with creating a grid of letters and numbers of the Univers library. The grid is a visual representation of the essential qualities of Univers. We were encouraged to explore different relationships of foreground and background, text and the space around and in between it.
Developing an Understanding of Univers
Sketching, hand-lettering, and research on the typeface as well as exploration of different cropping techniques; this helped me to gain a deeper understanding of what makes Univers a unique typeface and what components help to develop these individual qualities.
Univers Typeface Video
During my sophomore year at CMU I studied under Mark Mentzer in his Color and Communication class. Here I was able to apply some of my understanding of color theory, which I acquired while attending my high school arts program.
Leaves- Exploring Transition of Color in Fall
This study involved gathering different types of fallen leaves (vibrant, dull, from similar or different color families) and explore how the colors react to each other and to different backgrounds.
Color Squares- Finding Color Contrast Relationships
This study is an exercise that trained our eyes to understand when a color is being pushed back or brought forward in a composition. It also explored various color principles such as contrast of hue, saturation, intensity, extension, and simultaneous contrast.
Mood Boards- School of Music & School of Architecture (from top to bottom)
Within the College of Fine Arts at CMU there are 5 schools: Design, Art, Architecture, Drama, and Music. During this study I explored several different magazines and compiled sections of images that I felt fell into the color spectrum of each school's identity.
Transition- Performance Art at CMU
This project is a continuation of the mood boards project, as it divides the five schools into two categories; the visual arts and the performing arts. The purpose of this exercise is to find foreground (text) and background relationships through a color palette.
Painting with Color
Several weeks into the course we were encouraged to experiment with colored paints. During this exercise, I created three different color compositions and cropped each composition multiple times to find different color relationships.
Petals Flower Shop Project
Petals was one of the final projects I completed in this class. The focus of the project was to explore unity of a theme through color that could serve as a platform for a particular brand, in this case the brand is a hypothetical flower shop. From left to right and top to bottom I have created a poster with an in-context photo, a card, a "flower of the month" card that gives background on the flower on the back and an image of the flower on the front, and four patterns for the wraps that go around the flower upon purchase with their in-context photos.
The Petals Poster
Compilation of Color Work
The animal project was an assignment from second semester of my first year at CMU. The project was an exploration of 2D and 3D design with the prompt of embodying a specific animal, specifically your "spirit" animal. The 3D portion of the project taught me how to take everyday forms, that are recycled or thrown away, and find similarities within the animal's structure.
The antelope was a very interesting animal to explore because of its facial structure, intricate antlers, and defining ear shape. I learned how to take these physical features and represent them in various ways, while still embodying the essential qualities of the animal.
The graphic translation aspect of this project allowed me to explore various concepts that helped me to decide how to best convey the essence of the antelope and its natural habitat. I applied my knowledge of various principles, including use of negative space, color relationships, and scales at which the antelope should be viewed. This project also allowed me to perfect my craft of paper cutting and showcase my ability to transfer a paper illustration into a digital and perfected format.
Final Graphic Translation on Illustrator
I constructed my animal out of an old detergent bottle, the tops and caps of orange juice and water bottles, plastic spoons, and wire.
Developing the Concept for the Graphic Translation
Ideating for the Recycled Animal through Sketching
During high school I attended a magnet arts program where I studied painting, drawing, and various other mediums. These explorations helped me to develop a voice in high school, mostly influence by my travels. My perspective, voice, and passions shifted greatly during my time at CMU, however I still value much of the work and exploration I did before attending university.
The Belgian Pub
Ink on paper
Renaissance Style Self Portrait
Acrylic on board
Tropical Rainforest Bridge
Ink on board
Scientific Bug Drawing
Graphite and colored pencil on paper
Portrait of Helen
Colored pencil on paper
Immersive + Playful Learning
Inventure Lab is a senior design studio capstone project completed by myself, Faith Kaufman, Alex Palatucci, Ty Van De Zande, and Noah Johnson. Our mission is to create playful and immersive educational experiences that extend learning outside of the classroom. We combined the words “Invention” and “Adventure” to create Inventure Lab.
While only the Worker Bee Workshop came to fruition, we envision Inventure Lab having series’ of workshops focused around a common theme. The theme portrayed in the posters is biomimicry, which we explore through four keystone species that make this broad and challenging concept more tangible for kids.
Inventure Lab Website Walkthrough
Our website platform can be used by educators and administrators looking to bring Inventure Lab to their schools as an activity during recess, a summer camp, etc. It is also a place where parents can sign their children up for workshops, and gain a better understanding of the learning objectives behind our program.
The collection of all our work was displayed in the Margaret Morrison building at CMU. We received incredibly positive feedback from professors, students, alumni, and friends.
Inventure Lab team members meet with local elementary school administrators to discuss our program’s mission and learning outcomes prior to the workshop. This allows teachers to introduce our material in the classroom before students experience it in a physical and play-based setting.
In order to localize our project to the Pittsburgh community we explored the system of Inventure Lab under the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s outreach program. With this established base, Inventure Lab is then able to connect with other museums, schools, and community centers much faster and with greater ease. The three critical moments we see happening in this blueprint are depicted in yellow and visualized below.
Critical Moment 1: meeting with Inventure Lab, teachers, and principal
Critical Moment 2: Kids dress up in wearables and play the game
Critical Moment 3: Parent hangs up photo of their child
Our plan for Inventure Lab and its development and expansion is explored through a timeline. The Children’s School at CMU is our main partner for testing our ideas and getting feedback from children, teachers, and parents. We then see an adoption of Inventure Lab under the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, with continuous testing at both of these sites. Finally, we plan for our program to be adopted by local schools, museums, and community centers; building relationships with these stakeholders and expanding the number of children Inventure Lab reaches.
Biomimicry Principles Diagram
Our group did extensive research into the concept of biomimicry, which describes human emulation of nature’s processes and systems. Biomimicry has been used by scientists and designers for the past two decades but is relatively unknown to many, especially kids. Inventure Lab fills the holes that the biomimicry curriculum currently out there has. We focus on play and immersive learning to introduce this rather challenging concept to kids, which is then reinforced and covered back in the classroom briefly by teachers.
We held our final testing session of Inventure Lab with 10 kindergarteners from the Children’s School at CMU.
After giving a brief introduction about bees and pollination, the kids dressed up in the wearable bee wings in preparation for collecting and distributing “pollen” to the flowers.
Kids worked together to pollinate the flowers and gather nectar to bring to the hive.
Kids worked together as bees to complete the nectar puzzle, which we made out of CNC’d MDF layers with an etched design and wrapped with honey colored felt.
What we made
We designed the bee wings so that they would function as the collectors of pollen. Bees collect pollen through hairs on their legs, however we felt it would be easier for kids to explore the principles of pollination if they were on their arms. Ty fabricated the wings, which are comprised of yellow fabric, transparent mesh, wire, black fabric, and strips of black Velcro. We created pom poms out of yellow yarn to make our pollen, which sat atop the flower centers.
Flowers in Playground Area
We scattered the flowers throughout the playground area for kids to explore and transfer pollen.
Creating our activities
Since we moved forward with the Worker Bee workshop we developed a series of activities that help to put the kids into the mindset of a bee. We created larger than life flowers out of quilted fabric that was donated from the Children’s School and bought additional fabric and stuffing to create the petals. Alex and I worked on the flowers and the hive puzzle while Noah and Faith worked on the brand materials like the website, poster series, picture frames, and pamphlets. Ty created the bee wings and compiled our video.
Playing the game ourselves
We thought it was important for us to work through the activities first before bringing them to the Children’s School, so we each played different roles. Faith and Noah were the children, Ty was our scribe/notetaker, and Alex and I were the facilitators. This helped us to concretize our roles and make sure we knew what we were saying. We also got the hang of making the activity age appropriate, but not so easy that the kids get bored.
Mapping the activity
Once we knew what the activities were going to be for the Worker Bee workshop we needed to map them out within the physical space, to understand the flow of how kids would move through and how we would facilitate.
Mapping the activity
In mapping this out we also made sure that each activity aligned with at least one learning objective of ours, one biomimicry principle, and one learning framework backed by research and testing.