“People need a change in lighting because they walk to the right” – Using Design-based Learning with Museum Teens

Point-of-View MadlibA couple of weeks after shifting to more of a design focus in the Neanderthal Next Door program, we tried an ideation activity with the youth called a “Point-of-View Madlib.” (Remember Mad Libs?) Taken from Stanford d.school’s “Bootcamp Bootleg” deck of design-thinking cards, this activity is meant to help a group reach a point-of-view (POV) that can “[reframe]… a design challenge into an actionable problem statement that will launch [them] into generative ideation.” Or, in slightly less jargon-y terms…

We asked students to fill in values for the following categories: “Users,” “User Needs,” and “Surprising Insight.” The raw material for these values was to be taken from the observations that students had been doing of visitors to the Hall of Human Origins over the past few weeks. Here’s the values the class ended up with:

USER USER’S NEEDS SURPRISING INSIGHT
old people change in lighting or guide most visitors tend to walk towards the right
most people interactive social media (like Instagram) where they can share their photos the DNA panel is romantic
people younger than 30 who like taking photos something to direct their attraction to the scientific concepts presented they like taking selfies
tourists the left side needs to be more interesting than the right people are very interested in the brain panel
college students a guide in a different language they only look at pictures
teenagers deeper methods to create comprehension they like diorama(s)
young adults/teens purpose, higher-level engagement strategies people like being on their phones!
parents with children things they can relate to themselves children often come with facilitators
parents with children interactives self-absorbed
parents with children info to relay to their kids parents often relay inaccurate information

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Once we had at least half a dozen values for each category, we asked students to do some Madlibbing with the results by filling in values for the following: “[USER] needs to [USER’S NEED] because [SURPRISING INSIGHT].” Here are the statements some students came out with:

  • “Most people need a change in lighting or guide because they walk to to right.”
  • “Parents need interactives to relay info to their kids.”
  • “Young couples need something to direct their attraction to the scientific concepts presented because they are self-absorbed.”
  • “Young adults and teens need to something to relate to themselves because they are self-absorbed.”
  • “People younger than 30 who like taking photos need purpose, higher-level engagement strategies because they’re self-absorbed.”
  • “People younger than 30 who like taking photos need something to direct their attraction to the scientific concepts presented because they only look at pictures.”
  • “College students need purpose, higher-level engagement strategies because they’re self-absorbed.”
  • “Young adults and teens need purpose, higher-level engagement strategies because they’re only interested in the brain panels.”

Pretty interesting, I think, that this group of 12th-graders ended up Madlibbing so many statements that depicted young people as self-absorbed! (Do such observations count as metacognition?)

Ultimately, we didn’t end up with a huge variety of POVs, unfortunately, but the activity did seem to work as a way to bridge the empathy-generating work of the hall observations with what we were planning to have the group start thinking about next–developing a design vision for their project.

With just a minute or so left in the time we had allotted for this activity, I wanted to have students respond in a less serious-minded way. (They’re called Madlibs, after all!) Almost before I finished getting the sentence out of my mouth asking the group to give me their most ridiculous-sounding statement, one student student came out with :

“Old people need a change in lighting or guide because the DNA panel is romantic.”

If we ever do this POV Madlib activity with a program again, maybe we should take a good five minutes for this take on the process…!

Combining this activity with a number of other design-based activities, the group came up with an impressive list of Design Principles. In the sessions since we have often found ourselves returning to these Principles to keep us on track:

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One series of activities they based these on were observations of people in the Hall. For example, the youth followed visitors and mapped movement through the room while writing down things they overheard or observed:

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3 Responses to “People need a change in lighting because they walk to the right” – Using Design-based Learning with Museum Teens

  1. Pingback: POV Madlibs! | Matthew McGowan's online portfolio

  2. Pingback: Game/Mobile Design internship at the AMNH (11/16 to 12/15) | DMDL blog

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