Charrette with Brightworks

Our team recently hosted a charrette with the students at Brightworks. The kids shared with us their favorite things about the school, their most memorable projects, and the best places to learn, play, think, and build.

Together we brainstormed ways to “put Brightworks in a box,” and the kids were challenged to design their ideal learning spaces. (Some complete with trap doors and aquarium floors!)

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Tour of the Tinkering Studio at the Exploratorium

Tinkering Studio’s founder, Mike Petrich graciously gave the BrightLab design team a tour of their workspace.

The Tinkering Studio is a public space at the Exploratorium to explore science, art, and design in meaningful ways. The Studio provides a hands-on experience to a cross section of the population who may not have the opportunity for such rich design exploration.

We spent a long time with Mike discussing what makes the Tinkering Studio so successful, and how we can translate what they’ve learned to our project. One of the things we talked about was using materials that were familiar and readily available to kids, like toilet paper tubes, paper clips, and paper. Fancy, expensive materials aren’t necessary, and in fact using a few simple, versatile materials enhances creative thinking more than a huge array of complex materials.

We also discussed how the layout of our space will impact its success with the students. For instance, the Tinkering Studio has a loosely partitioned work area, and Mike noted that just those simple cardboard barriers provide a feeling of security that enables tinkerers to take risks. Mike also noted that this enclosing of space, and the ability to interact with others inside of it, was particularly important to getting women and girls to buy in. This brought up interesting questions of how to design our space so that it appeals to all genders, and encourages a feeling a safety and comfort.

Lastly, Mike underlined the importance of having the activities be voluntary, because when each individual is in charge of when, if, and how long they participate, it results in a greater degree of openness to the task at hand. We are thinking about how we might implement this factor of choice in our design, perhaps by incorporating a few different activities for the students to choose from.

Our entire team was extremely inspired by the work that the Tinkering Studio is doing, and we intend to continue to seek their feedback as we progress in our project!

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Comment Wall

The comment wall is up in the Brightworks entry. If you’d like add your suggestions or feedback please feel free to post them below!

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Oregon Manifest

Team member, Charles Weber, is no stranger to collaborative projects or seeing ideas through fabrication either. His background in industrial design came in handy last fall as he led the CCA student entry for the Oregon Manifest Constructor’s Design Challenge in Portland, Oregon.

Read the full project write-up on CCA’s website HERE.

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BrightLab teammate, Kate Ganim, was part of a CCA team of students that recently designed and fabricated a mobile coffee cart called RapidType.

Project Description: A student design team, equipped with a generous donation of Alpolic (an aluminum composite) and a CNC router, set out last Spring to develop a marketable prefabricated product that pushed the limits of the material. Months of market research, material exploration, and design development culminated in Rapid Type: a mobile coffee platform.

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What is BrightLab?

BrightLab is a partnership between an interdisciplinary group of students from the California College of the Arts and Brightworks, a progressive school rooted in hands-on, project-based experiential learning. We are designing a mobile education pod that can serve the greater community by bringing Brightworks’ notion of exploratory learning to underserved schools. Our goal is to deliver design thinking and peer collaboration to children who are accustomed to more traditional, linear, and memorization-based classroom models.

We are currently looking for public school partners (primary or middle school) in San Francisco who would be interested in hosting this (free) supplemental hands-on learning experience for their students.

Our design process is based heavily in community collaboration, which we believe will maximize the success of BrightLab by drawing on the expertise of students, teachers, collaborators, parents, and designers. Help out by giving us your thoughts, ideas, and feedback!

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The Brightlab Blog

Welcome to the Brightlab blog where you can find information about our project, our team, our goals, and the progress that we are making as it happens. Please feel free to comment, send suggestions, or participate in any way you see fit!

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