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PPP: Play.Project.Purpose

Using play and project based learning to help students find their purpose and create their futures

Photo of Raghava Manvitha Reddy Ponnapati
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A well rounded education is the one which develops Intellectual, Physical and Emotional skills. We live in the age of information where is too much for us to absorb. In an effort to keep up , students play less and less attention to education that turns them into engaged and empathetic citizens. The distance between the college environment and the work environment is growing. Most of the graduates don't end up in the fields they majored in. There are more PhDs than available research positions. And skill based online courses and diplomas are gaining popularity and in some STEM fields are providing more job relevant skills than university campuses. So it's time for universities to redesign themselves to stay relevant with respect to the outside world.

Play should be an important part of education even at the university level. It helps instill curiosity and makes the learning process more fun and engaging. Play also creates well rounded and creative individuals. 

Project based learning helps students again practical knowledge in the fields they are majoring in . For example for an electronics engineer working on hardware design - a project on turning his micro-controller project into a chip that can be manufactured will add valuable experience for working in the hardware industry.

We propose a hybrid solution - combining play and project based learning to create better learning experiences for students at university level. 

We hope to partner with universities to launch a Play and Project program. A play and project will have 8 levels  and students can enroll it in from their first semester and they progress to next level each semester. At the end of each project we will have a student showcase to show case their play projects

Level 1 ,2 - First and semesters at the university. They are put into teams of 5 with students of various intended majors . Level 1 ,2 consist of simple exploratory play projects that combine art and technology, agriculture and technology, finance and technology, business and design. The projects will have an element of play - for example for art and technology projects it can be a craft or lego play hour . This will help them figure out which subjects excite them the most and helps them choose their major. 

Level 3,4,5  - In the next three semesters, they will earn their credits by coming up with a product idea they can take from design to implementation using the design thinking approach. They will always work in interdisciplinary teams and will learn how to build things with their hands which can involve woodworking, machining, laser cutting etc.

Level 6,7,8 - In the last semesters in the program - The teams will pick an individual project that helps them build a very specialized skill set - For example for a physics student it could be about building a speciality in laser systems. This speciality will be a valuable addition to the team based skills they developed earlier and will help them immensely while looking for jobs and research positions after school.  

Being part of a Play and Project program will give students experience working in multi disciplinary teams and will turn them into more empathetic individuals at the work place. Also being part of a program like this will make them more entrepreneurial and will build their network.

This idea emerged from:

  • A group brainstorm
  • An OpenIDEO outpost or chapter

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We will launch a semester long Play and Project programs on an university campus or off site in Boston and partner with professors and industry experts from multiple disciplines . We will start with a group of 30 students in their 4th or 5th semesters and will help them design a project that is relevant to their future aspirations . We will partner with maker and entrepreneurial spaces like CIC, Startup Institute around Boston to carry the projects.

Tell us about your work experience:

Our team consists of a nerdy design loving engineer who had a successful startup in her undergrad and who is always working on fun and challenging projects. She also had a curriculum that was almost entirely project based learning. Our second member is passionate about design thinking and education - she has two kids who will start their higher education in just another year! We would love to have any enthusiastic member from the OpenIDEO Community join us!


Join the conversation:

Photo of Billy Korompilias

This is a very good concept and it shows how a good research can do miracles! Congrats!

With our teams moto "Play.Discover.Innovate" I think you can clearly see as we do that both of our ideas could work together! We would be happy to connect with your team into this :) Intelligence Circles - Investigating Capsules (IC) 

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