Early April, San Francisco's Market Street was in the midst of a creativity bonanza with the Market Street Prototyping Festival (MSPF)! KIDmob had a chance to be a part of this exciting moment, in partnership with Philly-based Public Workshop, CA College of the Arts, and a group of middle-school aged makers from The San Francisco Friends School, Everett Middle School, and The French American School. This project was made possible by a generous grant from Southern Exposure. .
MSPF 2015 is a place-making initiative sponsored by the Knight Foundation and led by the San Francisco Planning Department along with the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The festival was a way for the whole city to come together and re-invent Market Street, with 50 teams chosen to create playful gestures to invite public life into the transit corridor.
KIDmob's prototype was called the Adaptive Playscape - the prototype was designed and built fully by a mob of middle schoolers. In a festival of big ideas, it only seemed appropriate that the kids of San Francisco should also have the opportunity to share theirs!
They came up with a prototype that engaged diverse people on the street. It was a modular obstacle course - a playground of sorts - that was a very active installation! It was geared towards middle school aged kids and younger. To demonstrate the fun and importance of making, the Adaptive Playscape was accompanied by a quick prototyping activity for kids and adults alike. Parents helped kids build structures made out of 2x2's zip-tied together. Some of them came back to the installation throughout the day to continue building. Some even played into the night!
The students were of diverse backgrounds and full of enthusiasm to be a part of this experience. KIDmob held a workshop series for the middle school-aged makers to design and fabricate the installation.The workshop was an exciting opportunity to have the students break out of their own school communities and collaborate with each other on a large , public project. In the very first workshop, one student asked, 'When we get team partners, can we pick someone we don't know? Like from another school?' By the end of the workshop, the students had built bonds beyond their own circles and expanded their sense of community.
The workshop was a 3-day endeavor that took place over three weekends. Though our time was limited, the kids accomplished an incredible amount! The first workshop was Safety Training and Brainstorm. On this day, the students learned safe use of power tools, including the chop saw, drill, and jig saw. The group picked up the skills quickly enough to jump right into brainstorming what the Adaptive Playscape might be. The second workshop was Design and Prototype. On this day, the design process was introduced. After familiarizing themselves with concepts like the Wild Card and Evaluate, the students drew scaled drawings of their designs and built 1:1 scale prototypes. At the end of the day, they presented their schemes and received feedback. In the very last workshop, the Build-Out, the students applied the critique from the weekend before and built the final 1:1 scale prototype with 'real' materials - wood and screws! Finally, they were ready for installation at MSPF.
The installation on Market Street ran from April 9 - 12, and was a great culmination of the whole experience. The kids' got to visit their own installation on the festival days, engage with the public, and watch how people reacted to their work. It was a wonderful moment for the kids to see how truly capable they are of shaping the world around them.