Dana is an Industrial Designer, trained at the University of Alberta. He moved to the Netherlands to study a Masters in Social Design at the Design Academy Eindhoven. Afterwards he started Qmod, an educational energy platform to empower students to learn, experiment and invent with sustainable energy. Through Qmod, he began working internationally hosting workshops with students in South Africa, Mexico, Italy, India, Belgium and the Netherlands. Currently Qmod has partnered with Boukeet FabLab in Rotterdam, focusing on the link between educational energy and the maker movement.
First off, thank you for the valuable feedback. We are always keen to hear different perspectives on ways to optimize our project. I've provided some answers to your questions that we will elaborate on in the coming days.
Regarding our proposal, this is a new approach developed from a HCD multicultural perspective. We’ve been working with educators and students for the past 2 years in a number of countries, testing and iterating our prototypes to ensure that our solutions are based on the needs of our users. Although we have not yet tested in an emergency setting, we are very interested in exploring the potentials to provide educational tools to communities that require help.
Although the topic of energy and electricity may seem like a niche topic, we see it as a foundation to build numerous 21st Century skills. We are interested in providing the tools to explore this foundation and expand upon topics ranging from the fundamentals of energy like electrons and circuits, all the way to the potentials of solving community energy needs through design thinking exercises.
At the moment, our development has brought us to a point where we have realised a fun-to-use plastic toy - perhaps not the most practical solution in an emergency situation, but it could be a starting point towards a more basic solution. For example we have worked with students to build simplistic voltage boosters at a cost of less than a dollar using waste materials. This could be a pivot point in our proposal as we begin to focus on specific communities and gather relevant data. Our curriculum explains how to get started with our Qmod tools and cards to create various Energy experiments. It utilises simple easy-to-follow illustrations to guide the user through the basics of creating Redox, Solar & Mechanical experiments with which you can power your creations, such as a paper city. Besides that it contains a small reference of tips & tricks that can help when things aren’t going as expected. The curriculum is developed to encourage learning through doing using basic materials such as nails, pencils wood etc. and could easily be adapted towards a more accessible and price sensitive solution.
At the moment we are partnered with German energy company E.ON, who is supporting the development of our educational kit. We are also working with faculty members of the Tecnologico de Monterrey and the Universidad Centro in Mexico City to begin research into what communities would benefit from our proposal - research on what is already happening, how did these developments come about and what will be the outlook for the next couple of years.
Regarding our strategy, we will deep dive into this over the next few days to clarify how our proposal will be implemented into an emergency setting. We will also provide suggestions to scale the project towards a post-emergency setting.
Thank you again, and we hope to provide a clear solution to these issues as our story develops.
For the past 2 years our team has had the opportunity to validate pre-existing touch-points in the product development process through user-testing and product iteration. Metrics involving age and cultural overlaps were considered from test groups in South Africa, Mexico, India, Italy and the Netherlands in the form of low constraint observations and direct user surveys. The data from this research has indicated that globally, children are more engaged in learning through game-play that incorporates clear easy-to-follow illustrations. We have incorporated these findings into a system of color co-ordinated components and illustrated cards for students that require little translation across different languages.
Currently we are developing a learning plan in Dutch, Spanish French and English for teachers to help encourage student learning through engaging activities that do not necessary replace existing curriculums. These learning plans are simple and adaptable towards the teachers needs while offering time sensitive activities that touch on real world contexts like renewable energy.
Approval from governing bodies is an area we will focus on after seeking the approval of educators. We are interested in working with people to create the results that policy makers seek. This is a priority to us. Although it will be difficult to reach areas that are in distress, our intention is to continue iterating our products and content with as many players as possible through workshops, hackathons and educational events.