The Goal

For this project, I had to design playground equipment for kids from 8-10 years old. The main goal was to provoke physical exercise, combined with educating kids about a certain mechanism. I added the elements of competition and teamwork to the mix. 

The Process

With this project, we had to put our entire process into an 150-page A3 logbook (in Dutch). Everything was done manually: the research, the visuals, the reflections, etc. The only thing we were allowed to do on a computer was making 3D-models of our final concept in SolidWorks. 

I started with literary research about my target group. Then, I went to a primary school to do some field research. I gave them a survey with 5 questions. Two questions about their current and wanted activities during recess, two questions about their current and wanted activities during PE. Lastly, I let them draw their ideal playground equipment. You can see some of the results in the image below. 

With the help of several methods from the Delft Design guide, we had to think of at least 20 concept directions. I used How-Tos, a Morphological Chart, Brain Writing & Drawing, and SCAMPER. After this, we had to pick 3 of them to develop a bit further. I used two evaluation methods to decide which of these 3 concepts I would develop into a prototype to test at the official testday. The evaluation methods I used were a Harris Profile and Weighted Objectives. You can see all of this in the images below. 

My Design

My chosen concept consisted of a child-sized crank mechanism (a mechanism that turns a rotary motion into a straight-line motion). It had a big handle for kids to power the mechanism, and on either side it had a bar attached to the straight gear with a magnet.

To play the game, one kid had to rotate the crank and two kids were to stand on either side of the crank. On the floor on both sides of the crank was a square which the kids were not allowed to step out of. This meant they had to jump over the horizontally moving bar to win the game. The first kid that stepped out of the square or pushed the bar of the horizontal gear lost.

The Prototype & Testing

An earlier version of the concept consisted of two cranks to make it a bit more challenging. I put this concept into SolidWorks (see image below). 

The prototype was a simplified version of the concept with the double crank, to test how it would work and how children would use it. This prototype was and tested by at least 20 kids. Based on these tests, I found out that one crank was challenging enough. Therefore, my final design had only one crank. 

What I Learned

During this project, I learned how to:

1.     work with a few basic (Delft) design and evaluation methods (How-tos, SCAMPER, Interviews, Brainstorm, Brain Writing & Drawing, Harris Profile, Weighted Objectives)

2.     (re)formulate and have my own interpretation of a design problem, and make my own list of requirements

3.     design a concept based on an open design problem

4.     develop the technical, ergonomic and aesthetic properties of a concept

5.     visualize the concept using basic design drawing and CAD (TecDoc)

6.     critically reflect upon my own design process