Springlab: Designing new ways to make learning active.

Project Goal

To design and prototype a digital solution to create active learning lessons for primary school children.

  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.


Qualitative literature review and expert interview were conducted. An understanding of relevant literature on learning through play and physical activity was sought, to inform the design process. Potential end users in primary teachers were involved during the interview process. This provided valuable insight into the ‘pains’ and ‘gains’ of the students.

At the end the research was distilled and design requirements were created to guide the design process.



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 remotely through a Wi-fi connection.
    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.



Development concluded with several play-tests, testing several aspects of the design.

  1. Fun value: did kids enjoy playing the games?
  2. Educational value: Did it detract or support learning?
  3. Ease of use: Is the app intuitive?

Results found positive results in factor 1 and 2. Ease of use was reported to be poor by play-testers, likely due to the early nature of the prototype.


Final Notes

On March 1st, 2020 the Netherlands closed schools and entered its first lock-down period. 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!