Prototyping Session with SLA and String Theory Students

October 24th

On Oct.24th, all were present at the prototyping workshop: UArts grad students, prototypers from the Franklin Institute, Science Leadership Academy at Beeber, and String Theory High School. This took place in the Terra Building at the University of the Arts and lasted for about 3 hours. The decision among the students was to design and develop two prototypes around the two concepts that the students decided on: 1) The Arts Community and 2) The Youth Community. The main objective was to get visitors and participants to talk more about what these communities mean to them and to spark various conversations within the community itself. Dana, a Museum Exhibition Planning & Design alumni from UArts helped out with building and modifications of the prototypes and offered some critique based on her experience. Overall, they received very good feedback from those that tested the prototypes, which helped to provide further direction and in what way these prototypes will develop for the final prototyping session at The Franklin Institute.

The prototypes tested were facilitated in two groups, one by Alex and Dai and the other by Jenna. Alex and Dai prototyped an exhibition called “Don’t Box Me In,” which is an interactive cubical where the discussion of different generational views are brought to the table in the form of post-it notes. They created a prototype positioned in a hallway with a cardboard wall on one side, and a glass window on the other. There were different questions listed inside the cubical, and those answering those questions could post their answers with the color-coded post-it notes. The colors corresponded to the generation the visitor is from. These questions were posed to create multi generational conversations on various topics. Each generation answering with a specific color post-it note which allowed for easy identification as to which generation was responding in what way. As the String Theory High School students, and guest critics experienced the exhibition, the University of the Arts and Science Leadership Academy students would rapidly make changes before the next group arrived.

Jenna’s group was involved in prototyping a pulley system, comprised of smaller sculptures which become part of a larger one. All of the sculptures together signify where people draw their different inspirations from and where they receive their creative drive. The colors signify the different communities which were discussed previously by the high school students, such as green=science, red=cultural, blue=music, etc. They created sculptures based on them, then attached it to the larger piece. Materials included construction paper, double sided tape, foam core, etc. Also the 2D and 3D sculptures and shapes, once constructed, became part of a larger sculpture which in its totality represented a collective, yet unified statement about community collaboration and discussion of ideas. As the group continued their prototyping, they realized how much materiality impacts the experience of the visitor and concluded to use more sophisticated materials the next time around. They were able to elicit complex responses from their visitors but found that the materials were difficult to use.

After receiving the feedback from the prototyping session, the future will bring more refined/redefined and larger, stable materials. As with any prototype, the questions and instructions need to be clarified and the groups will learn how to envision the results before building the final prototypes. The next and final prototyping session will be at the Franklin Institute on November 19th, where the general public inside TFI will participate in interacting with the prototypes.

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