The inter-disciplinary research module introduced us to how use design methodologies and product design can be used to create a repository of viable research. This module had a focus on using participatory design and co-design methods to achieve these results and was undertaken in groups of 3.
The GROW Observatory is an EU-funded project being coordinated by the University of Dundee, and aims to gather a repository of citizen-generated soil moisture data. While GROW is focusing on food growers who already have an interest in the quality of soil, our project focused on non-growers who had no real interest in soil moisture data that was being collected; soil moisture data is an important factor in determining how prone a land will be to flooding.
However, as citizen-sensing relies on large number of people becoming involved to generate this valuable data, our task was to research how to make people excited and become involved in soil moisture sensing. We were interested at looking into how intergenerational relationships between children and grandparents could be encouraged to have more interaction while collecting soil moisture data for GROW. In particular, we research into how effective the medium of storytelling would be to achieve our overall goal.
Our initial data gathering found a number of important insights that shaped the further steps of our design process, and helped us formulate a number of research questions that we looked to answer. These questions initially included exploring How can we motivate grandparents and grandchildren to engage and connect with one another to achieve a common goal and How do we encourage skill share between grandchildren and grandparents to gather soil moisture data.
We decided that the most effective way to explore the relationship between a grandchild and their grandparent and to answer our research questions would be to create a series of physical prototypes. The prototypes fed into each other as we received feedback and would helped us to create a final prototype to answer our overarching research question - how can we encourage more interaction between a grandchildren and their grandparents through storytelling?
The prototypes ranged from using physical objects to influence behaviours towards children's attitudes to growing to prototyping a physical board to allow grandparents to share their experiences about Dundee with their grandchildren.
The result of our project provided us with a repository of new knowledge on how to use storytelling to engage children and their grandparents and gather soil moisture data for the GROW project through a series of exploratory prototypes.
Overall this project was extremely interesting and allowed me to look at product design in a new light - as a viable solution to conducting action research.