Last week the MakerClub team took a trip to Brighton’s Amex Stadium for a very special workshop as part of Brighton and Hove Council’s 2030 Vision programme. With 100 children and 20 volunteers on board we ran a Hack Your City workshop where we explored some of the biggest problems in Brighton and how technology could be used to solve them.
Throughout the day young people and volunteers from across Brighton and Hove engaged in activities to get them thinking about the issues they will face as they enter adulthood in 12 years time. Responses to the activities were beyond expectation, the room was buzzing with conversation and we can certainly have faith in the next generation to improve our city.
Perhaps one of the most successful parts of the day was the Hack Your City game, created by our Head of Education Mia which awarded participation in activities as well as sparked conversation about city planning and the difficulties local councils face. Here Mia discusses the benefits of playful learning and the mechanics of the game.
What is Playful Learning?
Everyone loves to play and there are lots of benefits of using games and play to promote learning and make it more meaningful. Playful learning involves the redesign of a learning task allowing educators to use game features to make a learning experience more fun without creating a complicated game. At the Hack Your City Event I wanted to create a way of rewarding active participation from our participants in a way which was meaningful to them and would spark conversation.
The obvious solution to reward behaviour was through points, but I didn’t want to just offer points which would lead to prizes at the end of the day – although points are seen as good extrinsic motivators, I wanted the activity to directly link to the themes we were exploring so that it would get the learners thinking about the future of their city.
City Planning with Future Tech
The points we awarded for participation came in the form of tokens. An individual would be awarded 1 point if they took part in discussion or presented an idea to the room. Then, at certain points throughout the session, teams would pool their tokens and trade them for more expensive future tech tokens which they then stuck on a map of Brighton in the areas which they thought the tech would be best placed. We looked at things like Seabins, smog free towers and 3D printed housing and learners had to consider pros and cons of each including how expensive they might be.
At the end of the day each team presented their map to the whole room, justifying the decisions they made, including why they put things in certain places. It gave them an insight into difficulties faced by councils in implementing new technologies into cities and allowed for lots of play, discussion and learning.
We were all really impressed with the thought that went into where teams placed items on their map, there was consideration for different types of people, cost and the environment as well as great feedback from young people and volunteers on how this game enriched their responses to the big questions we were asking. The young people loved the trading element and picked up the rules quickly as it imitated other games that they were familiar with. Though the aim of the game was to promote participation, the young people got a lot more than prizes out of it!
Thanks to all the schools that attended, and all of the volunteers that facilitated such meaningful conversation from the young people!