How is the Netherlands maintaining its innovation edge? By developing and prototyping new creative and design processes.

NewTechKids is involved in one such research project aimed at mobilizing the creative industries to help transform high school students into tech inventors who make products and services which have a positive impact on society. The research seeks to answer the question “How can critical making contribute to technological citizenship and responsible innovation?”

High School Students & The Research Process

The project’s first case study has just been completed. Students in a Philosophy and Technology Design class at Christelijke Scholengemeenschap Buitenveldert (CSB), a high school just outside of Amsterdam, completed a 12-week bootcamp aimed at introducing them to Maker education and learning about technological citizenship.

Students participated in discussions about technology and its pros, cons, consequences and ethics before learning how to use digital fabrication machines such as 3D printers, laser cutter and vinyl cutters.

Later working in small teams, students designed and developed physical prototypes based on critical making which included:

Dolphin Alarm: A sensor that alerts water animals like dolphins when large boats are approaching to keep them safe. The alarm will help them avoid getting entangled in fishing nets.

Hype Book: A book for people with performance anxiety which is filled with compliments. Read and re-read the compliments and watch promotional videos.

Sun Glasses: Glasses with a timer so you don’t get sunburned.

QR Code Gravestones: Scanning the QR code provides information about the deceased person and photos.

Data Detox Apartment: With face ID, powered by solar, wind, and water energy. The garage on the roof automatically charges the car through magnetic forces, and the remaining energy needed is obtained through photosynthesis from the plants on the roof.

Tech Optional Glasses: smart glasses with a mode which erases all tech devices and digital content from your vision to help people who have screen addiction or how want to de-tech.

Smartwatch: watch designed to automatically alert police if your heart rate is elevated and you don’t confirm it’s an emergency.

Floating Village: village which floats on water to solve overpopulation.

Students also produced a short video to explain their prototype and the thinking behind it.

Throughout the four maker education classes, members of the expert group interviewed the students about their attitudes, concerns and values around technology as well as their feedback on the process.

Next Steps

The project’s expert group will complete more case studies involving different students from CBS.

The multiple case studies, combined with student projects, interviews and research findings, will be used to create something tangible (for example, lesson plans, teaching tools, online curriculum) which can be used by the creative industries to inspire high school students and nurture the next generation of critical makers in the Netherlands.

Expert Group

The project is being spearheaded by Waag, a Dutch futurelab which critically examines technology, develops technological and social design skills, and encourages social innovation, in partnership with the Rathenau Institute, a Dutch research institute which researches and debates the impact of science, innovation and technology on society. Other project partners include NewTechKids and Designathon Works, a foundation which uses their design thinking methodology to transform kids into changemakers through maker education.