We all know what it’s like to sit in an uncomfortable chair, but can you imagine sitting in a broken chair or a chair that doesn’t fit you all day long? This is the challenge an ambitious team of middle schoolers at William C. Longstreth School has decided to tackle for their DT Philly project.
The project began when the team noticed that students waste time at the beginning of class trying to find a chair that suits them or even switch chairs during class, resulting in disruptions and distractions to learning. To frame their design project, they posed the following question: “How might we create a system where students can get the most comfortable and supportive chair so they don’t waste class time?” By making their classmates more comfortable, the team hopes that students will be more willing to do their work and will be better able to maintain focus throughout the day.
During their research, the team discovered that their classrooms contain a wide variety of chair styles, along with many broken and damaged chairs. They catalogued the different types of chairs and surveyed their peers to learn more about student preferences and what students want in a chair. They realized that different people have different needs depending on body shape and size, along with very different personal preferences with regard to what they find comfortable. This discovery pushed the students to consider a wide variety of design ideas.
Now entering the test stage of their design process, the students are eager to see their classmates’ responses to their prototypes, which they created by adding features to or otherwise adapting existing chairs. They predict that students and teachers are going to love trying out their prototypes, one of which is laden with amenities like a supply bag to make classroom materials readily available to students, and another of which is quite unconventional—a legless chair that allows students to sit on the floor with back support. To prototype this, the students removed the legs from a chair and attached a ball to the back to prevent it from tipping over.
The team notes that it has been challenging to design a chair that will meet the needs of all their users, but they continue to be motivated by empathy for their peers and the belief that increasing classroom comfort will make students more productive, which will in turn benefit teachers and school climate. We can’t wait to see what the Dynamic Developers do next!