Fidget Devices Meet Empathetic Design

In their last Computer Science and Design unit, our third graders used the ASH-adapted Stanford Empathetic Design Process. After having learned about input and outputs, automated machines, and microcontrollers, students collected data by interviewing a partner, brainstormed their needs and solutions, made a plan for the program and drew a diagram. Then, they created the design and got feedback from their peers. 

“What mostly interests me is showing the kids that there are practical uses for these devices. Students might need the device to help them concentrate, relax or engage them. For me, the empathetic design is essential. The children have to not only imagine their partner's needs, but also their experience with the device. These are not scripted-writing programs, it is a lego-like, dragging blocks interface, which is very cool and accessible.” - Mr. Spackman, IT Integration Specialist 

“My partner really likes reading, so I am making a book that he can write into. I’ll make the cover of the book a fidget toy and then put the micro bit inside the cover. On button B, it's supposed to play music so that he presses it every time he reads his book. Maybe he will feel more encouraged to read with the music playing. It’s all really nice but the planning and the drawing part of the process is my favorite. You get a lot of creativity and trying to make your plan work.” - Alessandro, student

“My partner wanted a fidget device with a soft part and she wants to play rock paper scissors. I am putting my micro bit in a cube so that she can play. When you shake the microbit, it plays music. Definitely, creating it and linking the code to the microbit was super fun. I liked designing the microbit and what it was going to look like on paper. I did like that we have to build it for someone else, because then that person can enjoy it.” - Ender, student