The goal of the project Makers a les Aules is to provide teaching support in STEAM related educational activities for local schools in Barcelona. Within this project, I am organising and facilitating workshops in the schools Castella, El Polvorí, El Sagrer, Drassanes and Sant Martí. The students are guided through a design process of digital fabrication using design thinking methodology and 3D printing.
In one of the projects, I focused on the exploration of design techniques for children to create a space for dialogue and reflection upon gender stereotypes and to guide the students in the design of preliminary prototypes of genderless interactive toys.
Twenty-two students between 11 and 12 years old participated in the study that was organised in five consecutive sessions. Each session had a duration of 90 minutes. One researcher and two teachers facilitated the activities during the sessions. The design goal was motivated by an ongoing school project in collaboration with the local Museum Frederic Marès in which the students participated in educational activities that focused on the change of social roles and values of toys across different generations.
The students went through an iterative design process, starting with reflections on gender stereotypes of toys and using digital fabrication tools to prototype alternative design ideas for genderless toys.
Finally, the students proposed six ideas for interactive genderless toys: (1) a puzzle in format of a hologram; (2) a frisbee with three functions (a) ordinary function, b) tele-transporter for people or food, c) transformation from frisbee to trampoline); (3) a robot that transforms into a cinema seat, provides the spectator with popcorn, orange juice and projects the movie onto a wall; (4) antigravity boots; (5) a spider web pistole that allows the children climbing up walls and (6) a magical rope that transforms into different objects (e.g. a bicycle).
The project was presented in September 2021 in the workshop series Methods, Theories, and Taking Action through Gender and Feminisms in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). Specifically, in Event 3 about Learning Methods, I presented this study focusing on “Design Techniques to promote gender literacy in digital fabrication with primary school students” and facilitated a challenge on Designing Interactive Genderless Toys (Instructions can be found here).