Springlab: Active learning

For my graduate thesis I collaborated with Springlab, a social enterprise based in Utrecht, the Netherlands. They perform research and development of active learning products, working to find ways to use play and games as a way to combat the obesity epidemic in the western world. They have already developed several products, one of which is named “Beweegvloer” (active floor), which is targeted at children 4-6 in elementary schools.

1 in 3 eleven year olds are overweight’

My project focuses on children aged 6-8 going to elementary schools in the Netherlands. The goals of the project are to:

  1. To facilitate active learning outside the classroom.
  2. To engage students in playful learning.
  3. Concept and develop a platform to run and the manage the activities for teachers.

The hope is that teachers will feel will see the merit of giving students more time to be active. And that it won’t hamper their learning but in fact improve it.

After much discussion and design talk, I settled on a variation on the concept illustrated above. It would be made up of two components:

  1. A physical multi-modal interactive toy shaped like a short rod, with:
    1. A mono speaker
    2. IoT nano for inter device communication and orientation and acceleration measuring.
    3. Rumble via actuator.
    4. LED’s.
  2. A digital application acting as the learning platform and Games master. Features to be included:
    1. Games library, with games designed by Springlab.
    2. Lesson plan: a space for teachers to alter, edit and adapt games in the library to different skill levels, interests and needs.
Interactive rod components

The interactive rod senses player movement and actions, and with device to device communication be able to be a physical part of the digital games. With this small list of capabilities the actions that could be translated into game verbs is very long. Opening up design space for games about geography, math and art. With above components it would be able to:

  1. Sense orientation relative to the ground.
  2. Sense acceleration and movement.
  3. Communicate with other rods and devices that can connect through wifi.
    1. Measure distance between itself and other devices
  4. Communicate with players through, audio, visual and tactile channels.
  5. Handle active, rough and tumble play!
Concept art for lesson plan

Teachers would use the application to setup up and run games. The games would be as hands off as possible so the teacher could either jump in, or help out with difficult concepts or activities. With lesson plans the teachers would have access to tools allowing them to alter the games difficulty, change small rules and adapt the learning games to their class. A crucial feature for teachers interested in making active lessons a regular part of their teaching.

During the project the Corona virus pandemic hit the world. Unfortunately, this made it quite difficult to develop the necessary components for the prototype. But some kind parents around the world, looking to give their kids something active to do did some play testing!

It was a great project to be a part of. Springlab are great bunch, and all very healthy on account of all the active games they play and make!