People often ask how we design new activities. It's often tough to give a straightforward answer, because for us the development process takes place on a long time scale, involves iterating on prototypes and revisiting old ideas. We collaborate with outside artists and get inspiration from unusual materials.
Last week, Nicole and I tried out a workshop we've been developing that we're dubbing "scratchpaper" for the first time as part of the Scratch conference at MIT. After the conference we were reflecting on the many paths we took to come up with the activity and spent a few minutes brainstorming a partial list of all the past experiments that influenced the development process and contributed to our thinking around the topic.
As an exercise, I took the rough notes that we scribbled on an oversize post-it and tried to sort the ideas into categories related to the areas of exploration that make up the content of the activity. I grouped things related to paper circuits, scratch explorations, seeed studio grove kit, circuit blocks, programmed peepshows and sensor experiments. As well, I added relevant links to blog posts, videos, activity guides and sources for materials to the mindmap. This represents a first attempt to try to capture the messy, non-linear, and collaborative process of activity design for us in the Tinkering Studio.
Click on the image to get to the version with links added. I'd like to try something similar for other activities and it would be interesting to think about different ways to organize the inspirations on a timeline to emphasize how these explorations often take time to develop into fully fledged activities and how ideas complexity and combine with one another. We hope that the process will continue as scratchpaper becomes one more element in our growing ecosystem of playful inventions and delightful ideas.