Design Engineering Education Workshops
Floating Lab is an educational and community project that uses design and technology to bring people closer to local waterways and educate about river ecology and safety. It is part of the "Thames Challenge: Safest EU River by 2030” commissioned by Lloyd’s Register Foundation, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the Port of London.
In collaboration with Elena Falomo and Agnes Giannaros. Special thanks to Robert Pulley, Paris Selinas, Simon Ryder and Bekkie Morgan from the Floating Classroom and Leo Burd from the MIT Duct Tape Network.
The Floating Lab is a repurposed boat that travels along river Thames; it connects key stakeholders along its journey and engages with different communities. During the day the Floating lab runs educational activities. At night and weekends the boat hosts events such as mudlarking sculpture making, seaweed crochet nights, tidal concerts and river hackathons. In the future, we see the boat equipped with interactive installations, biology experiments and modular furniture that can adapt to each activity.
The first proof of concept took the form of a series of educational workshops. We developed an immersive curriculum for young pupils (Key stage 1 and 2). The activities of the curriculum were successfully tested at a pilot held on the Floating Classroom, in Regent Canal, with a group of 15 pupils from the Edward Wilson Primary School. Our curriculum is based on the Project Based Learning method and matched the National Curriculum Learning goals. It integrates design thinking, engineering, technology, arts and crafts. The activities included animal observation, learning about mechanisms, making automata, storytelling, ideating and sketching solutions for water safety.
Activity 1: Pollution AutomataInitially we invited the pupils on the deck to carry out an observation activity. We designed cards about the canal’s ecology to aid them. We also prompted them to observe the environment these animals live in and the pupils immediately spotted the pollution. In the second part we asked them to materialise their observation in a fictional river bird automaton that would fight the pollution. We developed a custom automaton kit and guided them through its mechanisms. The activity was concluded with a theatrical presentation of their work through storytelling.
Activity 2: River Persona Brainstorming
For the second part we asked them to make different users of the river safer around the waterways. We designed a set of persona cards to facilitate their fast idea generation process. We then asked them to brainstorm in groups and sketch their ideas.