Hello all! It's been busy over here — after our initial research presentation and subsequent report, we've begun work on concepts.
1. Portable workshop
One of my sources made that a major obstacle to better integrating tools and making into classroom environments is the necessity to travel to a completely separate classroom in order to do so — this simply doesn't align well with the needs of many primary school teachers. One potential solution to this is to bring the workshop to the classroom. Much like AV carts helped make multimedia easier to integrate, a workshop cart could make integrating the act of making easier than ever before.
What tools best enhance the relevant curriculums?
How can we best pack those tools?
How can we best ensure tool safety?
How can we deal with physical factors, such as vibration and power requirements?
2. Workshop watchdog
Another obstacle my sources pointed out was the stress and pressure that a workshop environment puts on primary teachers. While many feel that learning tools and making is extremely valuable in late primary education, they may not feel qualified to keep a safe and educational environment in the workshop. This product is designed to help make ensuring safety easier.
How can we automatically detect dangerous behaviour?
How can we provide useful and meaningful feedback for that behaviour?
How can we provide feedback that doesn't distract the tool user?
How can we reduce both student and teacher stress and intimidation?
3. Multi-use furnishings
The classroom environment itself is not built for maker-style learning. Unlike a "normal" education, makers learn by doing many different things, and by alternating between collaboration and individual refinement. Contrast this with a more "traditional" classroom, which is designed to have a single focus, where furnishings (and therefore pupils) are designed to stay put, and where the furnishings are primarily build for reading and writing. I believe that this could be addressed through furniture designed for a more dynamic learning environment.
What furniture features best enhance maker learning?
How can we provide these features/benefits without disrupting traditional learning?
How can we provide new features without distracting students?
4. Experiment toolkit
One of the most important parts of the maker philosophy is the emphasis on self-imposed challenges, and working out one's own way to a solution. A toolkit for physics experimentation and data logging could allow students to learn about experimentation, self-imposed challenges, automation, and data-logging.
Since there's no time allocated for learning these tools, how can we make them as easy as possible to pick up and go?
What specific modules best mesh with the relevant curriculums?
How can this be technically accomplished?
I also spent time on some other ideas - they're on the backburner for now, but we'll see where they go. Clockwise from the top left:
Expandable personal data monitoring
Circuit pen (without solvents and other nastyness)