VIVITA Design Sprint — teaching kids creative problem solving

VIVITA Design Sprint is a two-day workshop organized by VIVISTOP for all the new members so they would learn creative problem solving, teamwork, ideation, and prototyping.

Prior to coming to the actual workshop, we task the participants with homework that helps build empathy and gain a deeper understanding of the topic of the workshop and problem that they are going to solve. The homework depends on the problem that we are going to solve — varying from observation to testing to online research or interviewing. Without explicitly telling them so, we are already then introducing them to design tools and processes for creative problem-solving.

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The process used with kids in Design Sprint

For this Design Sprint, we decided to focus on investigating ways of solving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by children. We selected a single goal — Climate action (Goal 13) to be solved by the children.

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To create a deeper empathy around the topic, we tasked the children with an investigation to answer some questions regarding the environment, climate and human behaviors that affect nature.

During the first day of the workshop, we visualized a ship on the wall. Above the water-level, we assembled positive observations “that help take the ship forward” (the things that participants liked in nature) and below the water-level, we assembled the negative aspects, that “hamper the ship’s motion. (all the bad things that are happening to the environment).

After assembling their investigations to the whiteboard, we clustered together with the children into themes.

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Out of these themes, each team could pick one that they want to solve.

At first, they had to write out the problem answering 3 questions:

  • What is the problem you are solving?
  • Why is it important and to who?
  • What kind of feeling it should give if solved?

This was followed by the ideation phase. To make the ideation more structured, we used a tool called “Crazy 8” — a useful Design Sprint tool where the user has to come up with 8 solutions. This helps the designer to push him/herself to think /ideate deeper, and not stop at the first solution. We encouraged children to come up with as many ideas as they have, the more there are the bigger the count is. For some of the children, Crazy 8 became Crazy 10 or 11 🤓

The first sprint day ended with teams narrowing the ideas down to top 3 and visualizing them.

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The second sprint day was all about building the prototype. This is an easy task for the kids as children are natural creators. The hardest part is to decide within the team which idea to pursue and start building. Younger kids usually prefer building their own individual prototypes; older kids are open to collaborating and building together. We let each team decide by themselves whether they prefer to work individually or in teams.

Team 1: hyperloop-like travel tunnel

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Sigrid, Karolin and Otto

Team 2: Garbage collecting magnet

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Loore, Mirjam and Holger

Team 3: These kids built their prototypes individually: 1) a rocket moving by the power of rubber catapult 2) a rocket moving with air pressure 3) and electric sports car

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Lillemor, Pärtel and Lui

Children made pitch videos of each of the prototypes they built and the day ended with collectively watching the video pitches and discussing the prototypes.

Learnings

  • It is easier for kids (and adults) to start solving the problem if they have made homework on the subject — they have built empathy and understanding of the problem.
  • For kids it is easier to build solutions than to ideate — sometimes they just want to go for and build, not to ideate and define the problem. But if they do it, the solutions are better even if they first are reluctant about ideation they learn over time it is better to think first as they come up with better solutions this way :)
  • We have noticed that smaller kids need more support to work together as they prefer to build their own prototypes. For them, it’s important what they have done and whose idea it was (7–8-year-olds). As for older kids working and prototyping together comes easier (9–10-year-olds) — they are more willing to combine ideas.
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The workshop was run by Halina & Eva Liisa

Written by

Kids and Youth Creativity Accelerator

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