Experiential Design: ECS
Team Size + Role
1 year curriculum sample + materials (style guide, teacher+student exercise kit, lesson plans, class philosophy, exhibit concept) to help raise awareness of Pittsburgh's air pollution and encourage social activism amongst the 5th-6th grade loop
2 / co-designed with design peer, emphasis on visual/graphic design
1 month (Fall 2018)
Adobe Indesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Fusion 360
Environmental Charter School
Our initial research included a broad survey. We explored topics like air pollution’s negative neurodevelopment effects on school aged children and the connection between identity and pollution. This research informed our decision to work within the school environment to build air quality literacy and advocacy.
We chose to focus on teachers as our primary audience for three reasons.
They can bring personal experiences with air quality and pollution into the classroom.
Teachers have a high impact on one another, students, student families, and the broader community.
Teachers meaningfully engaged with the curriculum can expand or alter it to best suite their classroom and student needs.
Mood Board: Images by decade that provide a glimpse into Pittsburgh's industrial development and the effect on air quality
Our reframe of Design Thinking is Design Feeling: the messy joy of problem solving. This feeling is an internal practice of continuous iteration and action: one that naturally lends itself to civic action.
We chose to nest our curriculum within Design Feeling. This allowed us to fit naturally within ECS practices and provide a level of flexibility for teachers and students.
To create a curriculum that will be easily understood by educators, we drew inspiration from the Engineering is Everywhere framework. EIE has full curricula available online for organizations to adapt for in-school and out-of-school-time education.
Air Quality is an abstract topic. Building curriculum around something you can’t see is difficult. Our goal was to make this abstract concept more tangible through the senses.
Prototyping + Feedback
To make air quality concrete, we brainstormed many different sensory experiences. Ideas like projection mapping, tangible data, and edible air were all explored. The most well received idea was a vinyl installation that obscured vision in decades with highest air pollution.
The result of our project included a teacher’s guide, student field guide, air magnifier kit, and plans for a vinyl installation. These pieces work in together for an immersive exploration of air quality in Pittsburgh.
The bulk of this project was the teacher’s curriculum guide. This document contains a pedagogical framework, art installation recommendations for ECS, Air Magnifier plans, lesson plans, and a style guide.
The lessons included in the Teacher’s Edition are centered around the Air Magnifier and art installation. These tools help students conceptualize how to conceive of abstract concepts like air quality and design feeling.
Student Field Guide
Like many researchers, students in this proposed curriculum would keep a field guide to help track and explore personal experiences with air quality.