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Wiggle Room: Co-creation

By Sarah Pannasch (@bigmotive)

As part of Belfast 2024 Boom Clap Play is creating an interactive art space for children called The Wiggle Room (link opens in new window) which will open in the MAC in September. A space that can be explored and interacted with, but also allowing space for free play activities, which means encouraging open-ended exploration with no set rules or objectives.

The plan is to use body and object tracking technology, projected onto a large screen. They asked the team from Big Motive to help form the outlining idea for the space by involving their audience — children, parents, and teachers.

Big Motive first consulted with adults — parents, guardians, and teachers — to understand what makes a great day out with children aged 6–11. From these conversations, they developed a framework of dos and don’ts, such as considering the entire journey through the space and planning a clear beginning and end. They emphasised that the experience should go beyond screens, incorporating tactile elements for exploration. Additionally, the Big Motive team spent time speaking with and observing visitors at some of the most popular interactive exhibition venues in Northern Ireland.

But this journey isn’t just about creating something for children; it’s about creating something with them. In the co-design phase, Big Motive directly involved children aged 6–11 in the ideation process. The approach was guided by principles Big Motive outlined in previous research (Kids First Report LINK), emphasising collaboration with experts in child play. Playworkers from Playboard NI and YMCA Bangor guided the team in adapting their design tools and facilitating the sessions.

The team kicked off with a free play session, allowing them to observe how children naturally play and to build an initial level of trust. Feedback was gathered in playful ways, such as voting with envelopes and exploring printed materials. Children sketched their visions on a big piece of paper, which became the foundation for further ideation.

In the final workshop, the team reviewed all the collected insights and ideas. Collaborative exercises helped them narrow down the concepts, leading to the creation of a storyboard for a prototype. This prototype is now being created, which we will bring back to our audience for testing and feedback.

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