mediale pfade.org – Association for Media Education e.V. as part of the EU-project DOIT Entrepreneurial skills for young social innovators in an open digital world.
Young people from 6 to 12 years old
The Future Monster Lab is divided into phases of research and exchange of ideas with others and phases of experimentation and construction. Its core themes are the future, the environment and sustainability. A variety of methods are used to give the children an explorative and playful approach. In terms of sustainability, the monster components are rescued from old electronic devices and recycled from used packaging materials. The starting point for the discussion of environmental and future issues is the living environment of the participants. Together, we work out which developments and changes on our planet concern the children. The future monsters that are built in the second phase are carriers of superpowers and serve as containers for the children’s messages. This is achieved by means of technically implemented or model-like features, such as garbage gripper fans for clean air or filter devices for microplastics in the sea.
With the support of the educators, the participants recycle motors, switches, lights and other components from disused electronic devices and use them as parts of the monsters. At the same time the black box “technical device” opens up to the children and they can gain insight into the fact that the most complex devices are only a combination of a multitude of often already known individual parts.
The monsters are built in groups. The children go through a design phase together and thus agree on a common goal. For the construction phase, agile methods are used so that the children can largely organize themselves. The media educators provide the content framework and support the children/teams in implementing their ideas.
For a Future Monster Lab, in addition to a material pool, one needs above all suitable rooms that make it possible to disassemble the old equipment in a workshop area (that can handle the resulting dirt) and to provide joint advice and work in teams. The workshop should offer space for a clearly arranged range of tools: Pliers, screwdrivers in all sizes – also for very small screws (smartphone repair sets), scissors. Cutter knife and hammer, if necessary.
Safe workplaces are particularly important for soldering and hot gluing as well as for dismantling and breaking up enclosures. It is advisable to have work gloves in small sizes.
These old appliances are particularly interesting:
For building you will also need:
It is important to have sufficient connectors available in the workshop – preferably hot glue, gaffa tape, wire and, if necessary, screws, clothes pegs, plasticine and cords.
For the construction of simple circuits for LEDs or motors crocodile clamps are suitable, ideally however a soldering station with appropriate technical expertise.
The feedback for the Future Monster Lab is consistently positive – the young people enjoy being able to work longer on a project with a lot of personal responsibility and demand-oriented support, such as soldering or brazing. Many children find it easy to let their imagination run wild. The monster is not only a projection surface for creative artistic expression, but also offers space for the implementation of technical ideas and inventive talent. Teamwork is often consciously perceived. Challenges and difficulties in coordination and joint brainstorming also become the subject of reflection and success stories.
The children are very proud when they have overcome the sometimes exhausting phases of trying things out.
The participants are encouraged to experience themselves as creative personalities with their own ideas. They can develop their potential in various areas – from expertise in the field of environment, waste problems, climate change, social skills such as teamwork and mutual support to technical understanding and artistic expression.
The children will acquire skills in electronics, the use of tools and the use of soldering irons. By opening the black box of the technical devices, the participants gain insights into the functions and materials of complex devices. They learn that waste can often be reused and is a valuable resource.
In the Future Monster Lab it can be experienced and understood that problems from the social environment can be tackled and that inventive processes can produce solutions. Above all, the children are shown: you have a voice!