Fun ideas on how to run a 2 day project/audition?

Say your running a 2 day project with 9 students, and you want to see how their product design, creative, critical thinking, skills in action. Any fun ideas?

Don’t know if this matters but its for an consumer electronics firm.


Sounds like an interesting set up. Should be a fun 2 days. I’ve done a few of these types of things at Nike with college and even highschool students. My recommendations would be

Break the ice with a tour or something inspirational. They are going to be clammed up at first.

Have lots of food and drinks on hand at all times

Play videos or have speakers so they can plug their ipods in

Make them pin up work as much as possible. The tendency in these situations is not to show anything to anybody until its done. Make them show and critique as much as you can. I’d say 4 times over the 2 days.

Maybe have the start by writing a little mini brief, doing a storyboard and some initial explorations… then trade projects, but don’t tell them they are going to do this or they will tank the first part.

Good advice Yo,

Having just recently run a similar (but longer) course (you can check out the course info here - if you like), my advice is the following-

  1. inspirational start. For sure. I started each day with a video from TED or something else cool that was on-topic but entertaining. Helps them ease into it and start feeling design-y.
  2. short activities are good. They can be very simple. Fun things that encourage participation by all are great. Something along the lines of “think of 100 alternate uses for a pencil” and having everyone write ideas (one per sticky note) and paste them up are great, esp. if you can break them into teams and make it a competition for treats or something simple. competition always works.
  3. During work times, playing tunes is a good idea.
  4. You will always overestimate the students’ ability in my mind. What seems simple for you they may be completely lost in… start with examples of what you expect, but nothing too specific. Still, if you can start them out, working out the first examples of any exercise together as a group it will help. I can’t tell you how many times I made a simple exercise, said “go” and then walking around 10min in, they all had blank papers…
  5. There are lots of resources out there for creative games and such. Do your research. It takes a lot of time, but can really help. My top faves are any of the "Whose Line is it Anyway games. A lot can be used to show creative principles and “play” can be just as productive as creative “work”.
  6. No matter what, you will both over and underestimate their skills and abilities. Be prepared to shift things around on the fly if it’s not working and always have back up things to do if you have too much time left over, or need to swap out an activity.
  7. Going in, have a clear, general goal of what you want to achieve (basic principles, deliverables, etc.) and make that known to the students. It helps them to understand why they are there and what they are doing. Without it, it’s like teaching an elementary school kid math, when you know it will be helpful when someday they are doing their taxes, but they can’t understand why the need to learn it, so it becomes a chore.


PS. Also always helps I find if you start with a personal intro. If they can see your stuff and be amazed/enthused, it’s better then them thinking “what the hell does this guy know / why should I listen to him” throughout the course.

Best of luck, and if you can, post your course and results here. Would be great to see!

Thanks a lot for the great advice - plan on using them all.

Still working on the basic plan - but in the end I want them to have designed something by the end where they can explain it, show there skills, etc. For me the process is important, but unfortunately I think a lot of emphasis will be on final results in regards to the final decision makers.

At Nike for example, was it left up to the students to decide what they wanted to design? Also with the cardboard furniture, were you pleased with the results?

One thing with electronics that I worry about is if you leave it wide open it could lead to black magic boxes (nowadays tablets) that do everything you want it to.

They were directed projects. The students were randomly broken into teams, and then assigned projects. Several teams were given the same project, so there might have been 3 different projects for 9 teams, but they were all similar enough to compare them to one another… not like one’s a running shoe, ones a tea kettle!

Here’s a great 2-day-design-topic:

Have all of the students tie one hand on their back. Then ask them to do simple allday chores: Cooking, tying your shoes, Playing a video game, getting clothed, or even making a hole in the ground…
They’ll find a problem by experiencing it. And that to me is the best starting point for a real product.
They’ll also learn that if you design for the disabled you’ll make a better product for the able. Or as the saying goes: “If you design for the old you include the young”. It’s best if you let the students work in team. Make it a collaborative effort. And as Yo said. Let them share ideas pretty early in the process.

My students always deliver great productideas doing this assignment.

&Good Luck

That sound like a pretty challenging, but fun assignment. I’m sure it leads to some good results.

I just did a lecture/ sketch workshop down at RISD last week. The students wanted me to design a digital camera, but to me I asked them what would be the point of another digital camera? So I put on the extra criteria that it would be a digital camera for a retired person, this would be their first digital camera, so it would need to be straightforward and easy to use.

We boiled it down to three features, releasing the shutter, zoom, and easy downloading. Since a large part of easy downloading is software, we focused on the physical features. One thing I’ve often read that splits off people older than lets say 65 is that they grew up in the mechanical age. When the keys on a typewriter jammed you could physically see them, but in the digital age there is no need for any direct physical connection to what is happening in the product, making them confusing to those that grew up in the mechanical age. You can’t see what is happening in an ATM machine. This is why older people tend to just click their mouse harder when they have issues with a computer, they have been trained since youth that it is the mechanical at issue.

so we tried to make the 2 key features as mechanical as possible. Instead of a little button for the shutter release, we made a larger plunger that physically went down. Most modern digitals have a zoom rocker switch near the shutter, very convenient for those of us in the digital age, but completely physically removed from the action of telescoping a lens. So we added a ring on the outside of the lens, that would rock up or down, simulating more closely the physical connection.

I think the end result was pretty cool, like you said, it would be great for anyone. I’ll have to post a pic of the final sketch.

sounds like a great exercise. I was just out last night with my grandma and she had the exact issues you mentioned with her digicam, along with the whole “it’s in play mode, why can’t i take a pic” and “how are you supposed to know if the flash is on” nevermind the way too many preset settings (i don’t even know what they are supposed to do). I was thinking myself that a more basic camera would be a good idea… sounds maybe like a 1HDC :wink: ?!