We tried again in 2021 in Eindhoven. There still were limitations, but less than in 2020.
We tried the same idea, building a landscape, with the improved watertables: PP support, modular. And found again that children are fond of water and kept their concentration for something they want to get working. No Lego this time, as we already found out that that works well and could not do everything in this limited setup. We choose to concentrate on the set up we designed for classes (NLT workshops / watertables)
How did it work out?
The quickly replaceable foam sheets worked out well, and the use was understood by children. They combined the sheets into multi sheet landscapes with water. So that worked well. But you really would like to do this in a place with more space that can get wet (now limited to the tray). The watertables were a bit to light, to flimsy for children’s use and required too much attention to keep them on their place. A more massive ( stone tiles? thick wood? crate like?) support might probably work as well or better, maybe combined with strong sheets (5cm thick), especially for younger children. Older children are more capable of working more careful with the tables.
The children were very much inspired by what they watched. Once one child had cut a name others joined in. Once when the setup with the water worked, others quickly copied it. A single 1.2 x 1.2 m tray does work but is rather limited. More or larger “waterproof assembly sites” are recommended. Two or three would be fine, the children then get enough space to work, work out their own idea and get inspired by other children.
The tables work. However, children are excited and want to try more water, more power and do not bother much about the nice support and modular system. That should just work well which is something consider in the designing of the tables. It has to be strong enough, hassle free and leave space for own explorations. Most of all it should not distract form playing with water but support, stimulate it instead. The lightweigt, cheap table construction could benefit from more solidity, even though it makes it more expensive and a little less versatile. For a maker fair a strong but simple box with inclined top would do, especially if they can be placed next to each other without connectors so they should be heavy enough to stay on their place. We did not use pumps this year ( too much hassle) but buckets instead. Still, a steady water supply would be nice, a gentle flow would work. Too much water results in “water ballets” which is fun, but something for a swimming pool or on the beach.
Some children also used the foam for other purposes, especially name cutting was popular. That can also be a nice introduction. Big leaps are sometimes a bridge to far and children may need some time to get into the idea.
Some children loved working quietly, a break from the exciting and noisy maker fair.
Maybe they come back next year. We had children from last year as well who remembered it and liked to do this again.