Un(Urban) Day 2 – Human-Centered Design

Today is the second day of (Un)Urban: Investigating green spaces in East London. We had a great discussion in the morning with intriguing presentations from Mr. Neil NcElduff and Mr. Oliver Dawkins. I was pretty impressed by the data driven focus and insights of Mr. Dawkins who related his previous experience and projects in his Ph.D. program. The depth of his research was more than I expected and in some way I was convinced that we are indeed living in a world which is getting more and more digitized from the internet to the internet of things. While Mr. NcElduff is like a figure who has done so many different jobs. While he sounds like a businessman doing work centered around public sectors, I was amazed to hear that he was also once a basketball coach. Anyways Mr. NcElduff was really amazing.

After the morning session and lunch, we got into today’s lesson – Human-Centered Design. We went through several very interesting warm up games at the beginning. The class was broken down to groups of 3 or 4 people. The was one was counting one-two-three in loops with two students in a pair, each person counting a number at once. The second one was a little more complicated version of the first game, in which “two” is replaced by finger-snapping. The third one was a more complicated version of the second game, in which “three” is replaced by foot-stepping. It was a bit hard to complete successfully complete the task without any interruption. I figured it might be more comfortable to get along with the rhythm or pace by listening while closing eyes, instead of looking at each other.

We then moved on to a challenge where the groups are told to use 20 spaghettis and a certain length of tapes and a string to build something as high as possible to support a marshmallow for at least 10 seconds. The challenge was probably one of the best parts of today’s program. Our group managed to make a square based with 4 pieces of spaghetti chunks, which were broken up from one spaghetti. Upon the square base we made, we then used 4 spaghettis as 4 columns at the 4 corners and double the length of the 4 columns for attaching 4 other spaghettis at the end of the previous 4 spaghettis that were connected to the base. We then wrap the tips of 4 columns together and stick the marshmallow on it. It was quite successful and I thought we would win the challenge at the moment. However, another group came up with a similar structure theirs was more sturdy than ours at the end as ours started to bend a bit after a while and thus lost to the second place. It was a great team building and idea execution experience.

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Afterwards, we discussed about the problem of commuting in London in groups and then started another game. Each group fabricated a person with 3 needs. The person was featured by his or her age, gender, occupation, etc. The scope of imagination for this game was basically infinitely and each figured created by each group was quite interesting with unique stories. Many of the figures drawn of the posters were pretty funny. We were then told to post as many solutions to the needs fabricated and categorize them in different sections at the end. In summary, this hands-on game emboldened the theme of Human-Centered Design, which could be broken down to the sections of inspiration, ideation, and implementation, where the ideas went from divergent, convergent, to divergent, and back to convergent again. When asked at the end of the class, we pretty much all felt that today’s class was fun and that it was great to work as a team and learn by doing.

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