Farnsworth '12

Farnsworth Aerospace Academy
Middle School
May 14- June 5, 2012

Working with twenty-one 7th and 8th grade middle school students during their space science class to design outcomes for "green chemistry". We'll meet with these students first at the University of Minnesota as an introduction to the project and to give them some background information about chemistry. During the next few weeks we will meet with the students twice a week for an hour teaching them how to think and work as a designer in creating outcomes to change, improve, and highlight green chemistry and sustainable polymers. To "plant a seed" in building interest not only in this field but also to consider combating this challenge as a career.

We decided there was opportunity for students to assist in redesigning the sustainable loop handout given to them at the U of M on the first day. They will also assist in starting to design a mark or "logo" for the program as part of building an identity for the project over-all. So, moving forward we will associate the project with a name, color scheme, and mark that will help students recognize and connect with the concepts and information generated with our design outcomes. Max created "Catalyst for Chemistry" to name the project.

The following posts are "journal entries" which include photos, remarks, lessons, and reflection of the workshops at Farnsworth.

Introduction: May 11
The following slideshow was presented to the students to ensure they were prepared to "think like a designer" for their upcoming field trip to the University. A discussion of the process took place using a couple case studies as examples when a problem existed and how it was resolved with design (Nice Ride MN and mobile phones). The students were given small sketchbooks they would use throughout the project. 

Session 1: May 14
University of Minnesota Field Trip
Students attend the Energy and U Show at the University with a follow up discussion and review of what was covered in the presentation as well as what is "green" chemistry. Students were given time to review the process of thinking like a designer. Following the reviews and general outline of green chemistry, students were broken up in three small groups for break out sessions with each grad student to discuss ways to think about making changes to everyday life situations and products to make them more sustainable. 
Energy and U Show

In the classroom: introducing the chemistry grad students and MCAD interns. 

Reviewing general chemistry concepts and segueing to the sustainable loop conversation.

Feedback from the students about the Energy and U Show was that it seemed like review for them already. The concepts were pretty simple and probably targeted for a younger or less advanced audience. They really enjoyed the explosions but wanted to have a more hands-on experience. 

The grad students prepared a handout as a resource and visual tool to explain the sustainable loop. It was decided that this was a great example how our expertise as designers could benefit the University. The handout needed improvement based on the feedback from the students. It needed to be re-designed to make it more appealing and understandable to middle schoolers. 

Session 2: May 17
Earlier in the week shoe boxes were dropped off for the students to use to collect some of their favorite things creating a personal "treasure box". This was done for two reasons: 1) To conduct some market research on the sly and 2) To use for future lessons throughout the project (sketching and ideation). When they arrived with their boxes, they shared their collections with others at their table and then sketched and itemized their list of things in their sketchbooks.

After the students had some time to document and sketch the items in their boxes, the interns shared their process books to show the students examples of what a sketchbook could look like. 

Before they were dismissed, each student was given a large storage zip-lock bag to collect "green" material over the weekend. They were to collect things like leaves, bark, branches, grass, flowers, etc. 

Session 3: May 22
Each student opened up their bags of collected "green material" and was asked to examine and sketch their findings in their sketchbooks.

Clarissa drawing with the students

Thyra sketching along side the students.

Close up of some of the observational drawings.
After about 20 minutes, they were then given the option of "morphing" a green material and one of their favorite objects. Some students morphed a leaf into a protractor, flip flop, and a key or corn into various shapes and objects, like a car!

Inspired by some of the drawings in the student sketchbooks, the interns created patterns. These designs were shared with the students to show how a simple drawing they created could be used for surface design. We brainstormed where this pattern could be placed and students suggested on shower curtains, bed sheets, folders, and pj's.
Thyra created this pattern from the student sketchbook next to it.
Session 4: May 24
Today, the grad students attended class to provide their expertise and knowledge of chemistry and mechanical engineering to facilitate a conversation in small groups with the students about their "treasure box" objects. Each table was asked to narrow down their discussion to one or two objects considering how the object was made and what components or parts could be replaced with a "green" material. What could it be made out of other then what its made with currently? They discussed how sugar cane, corn, bamboo, hemp, and flax are being used today to make products and materials that are sustainable. 
This small group focused on shoes and the materials they are made out of.

This group focused on toys...

This group talked about packaging (specifically a Cheetos bag) and containers like a lotion bottle. 
Students then took time to talk with the grad students about the sustainable loop handout from the first day. They provided feedback about the over-all look of it, the layout, and how there was too much information crammed in the space. 

Session 5: May 29
We begin the process of creating a mark and identity system for Catalyst for Chemistry (C4C). The process for building a logo was presented by first creating a word list as a class. We started with the words "green" and "Chemistry" but also added words such as corn, hemp, bamboo, sugar cane, flax, soy, retain, reuse, and recycle, sustainable, renewal, etc. They were then split up into small groups to create a larger list. We made it into a contest- which group can come up with the most words in 10 minutes? The winning team received MCAD t-shirts as their prize!

After the contest, they were shown examples of real-world marks and logos that had been created by combining two objects into one or how a combination of many objects and typography can create one shape or object.

They were given time to start sketching out some ideas from the word lists they generated. 

Session 6: May 31
We continued to discuss mark and logo design. Each intern was given a group of students to work with, not only to examine what the students generated in the sketchbooks but also have them work through some of their ideas further, really focusing on finding something that works with Catalyst For Chemistry. 

Here are some of the outcomes from the students in their sketchbooks...


Max had a more specific job with his group of students. They worked on finalizing the layout for the sustainable loop handout. They had specific feedback that Max would use to begin the process of redesigning it into a poster. (Refer to the home page for the outcome.)

Session 6: June 5
University of Minnesota
For the last day of our time with the Farnsworth students they return back to the U of M campus to get a more intimate look at Chemistry experiments and for us to present their outcomes. Max worked to create a poster of the sustainable loop handout, Clarissa was inspired by a "Rubik's Cube" design in one of the student's sketchbook and wanted to further develop it's design, and Thyra wanted to work to fine-tune an illustration inspired by some drawings in another student's sketchbook. (For their process and outcomes, please refer to the home page.)

Checking out some basic chemistry experiments with other chemistry majors at the U.

Visiting and being introduced to the life-size periodic table.

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