Innovation, as a skill, is not solely reserved for the realm of adults. From a young age, we are all presented with a plethora of thorny issues, and without knowing it, we develop our own unique processes for resolving and innovating around them.
Yet when applied to any such issue, human-centered design holds the unique power to adeptly, swiftly and creatively produce unique solutions that can have a direct and immensely positive impact on the people being solved for — even if that person is solving for themselves!
Covid-19 has presented a plethora of issues for both young and old family members, not least of which is the utter boredom that can arise from being cooped up at home. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up three human-centered activities meant to boost the innovative spirit, bring the family together and fill a few hours with fun.
BUILD YOUR OWN ‘BORED’ GAME
What you’ll need: A posterboard or a cardboard box, pens, markers or paints and an assortment of doodads from around the house (eg. marbles, pop tabs, cue cards, thimbles).
Instructions: Challenge each young member of your family to come up with a boardgame from scratch, using a posterboard or a cardboard box as the base for their prototype board. Encourage them to look to other games for inspiration and to find items around the house they can incorporate into their design. Set a date for a game night where they will present their finished game and the family will play it together.
Human-centered learnings: This immersive activity empowers young people to employ some of the most important components of human-centered design. It inspires them to review existing boardgames and reflect on what they would keep and what they could improve. It prompts them to make their ideas tangible by building a rough prototype and to test those prototypes out for user feedback. And lastly, it inspires them to refine their prototype based on that feedback and iterate on it. A true introductory test to innovate practice.
THE SWEETEST SKYSCRAPER
What you’ll need: A yard of yarn, masking tape, 20 strands of spaghetti, a bag of marshmallows and a wild imagination.
Instructions: Divide your family into teams — or compete individually if you’re a small group. Set a timer for 18 minutes and challenge teams to build the tallest structure possible using the items on hand. At the 18-minute mark, the team with the marshmallow that reaches the highest vertical point wins the game.
Human-centered learnings: This is one of the more popular games played by human-centered designers young and old — and for good reason. When in teams, this exercise emphasizes trust and collaboration with fellow builders, but more importantly it drives home that small steps towards innovation reap much greater results that attempts to build something all at once. It’s also a fun, silly activity that incorporates a sweet treat that can be devoured at the end.
BUILD AN IN-HOME INNOVATION LAB
What you’ll need: A working pen, an inquisitive mind and a pile of Post-its.
Instructions: Task your young ones with endeavouring to resolve a small issue that they’ve uncovered in the home. They could begin, for example, with a family member who has recently sustained a small injury in the kitchen. Encourage the young person to interview that individual, as well as other family members who usually use the kitchen, and to gather as much information as possible that would lead to empathy for their situation. From there, motivate the junior designer to ask ‘how might we’ questions and to slap all ideas for a solution — however crazy they may be — on Post-Its. Finally they can create a crude prototype to test out their solution with the family.
Human-centered learnings:: This exercise encompasses almost all of the basic practices of an authentic human-centered process, while also empowering a young one to feel involved in the bettering of a family home. Not only will this exercise teach empathy and courageous problem-solving, but it may actually lead to an improved home experience! A win-win for all.
Searching for exciting and engaging activities for the kids during quarantine? ExperiencePoint is hosting a 1 week human-centered design program for youth beginning on July 6th, 2020. Click here for more information and to register.