As I’ve mentioned a few times before, even though The Curiosity Zone is officially open, we still have two more exhibits to build before our work is complete.

Here is the concept sketch for one of those two ideas, ‘Tipping Point’.

However while we all still love the concept, there are a few elements that now make it unsuitable for one of our final exhibits. After the opening when we surveyed the exhibition as a whole we realised that not only did we have a lot of loose parts, but that two of our exhibits ‘Magnet’ and ‘Build’, already focused strongly on the ideas of building and sculpture.

So in an attempt to shift away from the growing mountain of loose parts and create more diversity we went back to our list of reserve ideas and scoured it for anything that may now be suitable.

As a general rule it’s always a good idea to keep a record of any ideas you have, even if at the time they don’t seem quite right. You never know when circumstances might change or a new idea might stem from an old one.

In the end we narrowed it down to two:

1) ‘Light pendulum’; a pendulum with a light source that can be manipulated to create patterns on a light sensitive material. A nice simple concept with few loose parts, but needs exact light levels and may not be open-ended enough.

2) ‘Ramps’; visitors create cars which they can then test on ramps using different variables such as a speed, distance etc Simple concept and good link to scientific testing methodology, but requires many more loose parts then the pendulum.

In the end despite the need for loose items such as Lego, ‘Ramps’ won, due to its clear focus on testing variables and capacity for more open-ended exploration.

The original concept was inspired by something we’d seen at Legoland…

And then combined with other research.

This resulted in four different prototype tracks:

You can see what our advisors created in the video below:

In the classic X-Factor style we asked our advisors to vote for their two favourite ramps from the above. With no votes the ‘distance’ and ‘make your own track’ quickly bit the dust.

It became clear that the ‘distance’ ramp didn’t hold people for as long as the others did and it wasn’t obvious to our advisors what the named zones were for. If we’re honest then this result wasn’t much of a surprise, since we’d felt that it may not attract people as much when in competition with some of the other ramps.

However we were surprised that the ability to ‘make your own track’ wasn’t as popular. In hindsight not colouring the movable sections may have made it more difficult to see the function, and perhaps the resulting ramp simply wasn’t as exciting as the rollercoaster ramp beside it.

Results such as this are why our prototype sessions are so important. It’s vital to get an idea early on of which ideas will capture and hold a visitors attention, before you dedicate too many resources towards them.

Due to the nature of our building schedule, we will now be moving onto our second prototype, before finishing this exhibit a few weeks later.

And it’s strange to write this, but our next exhibit will be the final one for The Curiosity Zone. This also means that within a few weeks we will be holding our very last Advisor Session. It’s been a true pleasure to open our doors to such honest and enthusiastic families and we’ll certainly miss sharing our prototypes with them.

So look out for our post in the near future on our last prototype, and last evaluation session.

But for now I shall leave you with a little teaser of the workshop team testing out part of our last prototype which will be premièring in a few weeks time.