Applying Design Fiction in Primary Schools to Explore Environmental Challenges

Maxwell, D. and Pillatt, T. and Edwards, L. and Newman, R. (2019) Applying Design Fiction in Primary Schools to Explore Environmental Challenges. The Design Journal, 22 (Suppl.). pp. 1481-1497. ISSN 1460-6925

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This paper presents a case study describing the use of design fiction in a cross-curricular project with four classes across two primary schools in inner-city Sheffield. The project combined elements of a Mantle of the Expert dramatic-inquiry approach with design thinking and design fiction, to explore the world of the honey bee. We worked with the schools and children during half a term, leading them through a set of activities (including drama, design, creative writing, and 3D prototyping) to enable the children to discover and understand the threats facing bees, beekeeping, pollination, and the global environmental ramifications of a world without bees. This paper describes the approach adopted and the created design fictions. We discuss the value and limitations of our approach and conclude by offering suggestions for researchers and teachers wishing to engage young people with complex problem spaces.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
The Design Journal
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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in The Design Journal on 31/05/2019, available online:
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Deposited On:
26 Jul 2019 14:00
Last Modified:
05 Nov 2023 01:11