Using Design to Connect Children Through Playful Discovery


This paper presents the first stage of FUSE, a project presented here as an example of how interdisciplinary researchers, university outreach staff and schools can come together to address the systemic inequalities in education exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Children’s connections with their school, their families and with each other was central to this collaboration. Children were encouraged to explore their domestic situations and the materials and objects they found available to them through playful discovery, utilising a series of prompt posters and a box of carefully chosen materials. The results of their playful and creative activities were shared using a number of return pathways including mobile phones, photos and physical artefacts. Using collaborative design methods, semi-structured interviews and visual documentation of artefacts we have identified a number of tools and techniques that have helped to engage and make connections with children, school teachers and peers. Unexpectedly the project has also strengthened the connections that children have with their siblings, parents and grandparents through imaginative, experimental and playful activities. This paper shares the elements from this project that helped to create the mindset for a playful approach to discovery. Through an analysis of the multiple return channels that tell us about the way the FUSE boxes were used we map how this has had an impact on the children’s approach to discovery-led activity, to schools changing approach to non-punitive interventions with challenging children and how this is informing policy development within these schools.

Author Information
Lee Brewster, Lancaster University, United Kingdom
Leon Cruickshank, Lancaster University, United Kingdom
Diane Potts, Lancaster University, United Kingdom
Nik Marsdin, Lancaster University, United Kingdom

Paper Information
Conference: ECADE2022
Stream: Interdisciplinary Art and Design Projects

This paper is part of the ECADE2022 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Brewster L., Cruickshank L., Potts D., & Marsdin N. (2022) Using Design to Connect Children Through Playful Discovery ISSN: 2758-0989 – The European Conference on Arts, Design & Education 2022 Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon