Makerfestivals are a good place to tests reactions. If it is not interesting, you get no visitors. Children like to interact. At a makerfestival usually there are plenty of workshops. Even in 2020 we could test, but the amount of visitors was limited, and they had to come in a time slot. This, however, made it quieter than at similar festivals before Corona and there was more time to interact. For Wetropolis it was a very welcome opportunity since schools and many other test places were not available.
This version we provided a manual (NLT / Pre-U ), and large sheets (50 x 100) to cut as well as foam cutters.
The cutting went well, but more explanation, perhaps a poster and leaflet to take away would be useful. A stand like this requires a crew of at least two, one to take care of the workshop, one to explain. Many parents have many questions. And, as usual, parents are reached very well through their children. If they see the children are enthusiastic they like to know more and (perhaps later) explain more about the activity. Emphasis for us though was on “does the cutting work?” A next festival can be used to work out the leaflet and giveaway’s. Here a good plan about PR and communication will help a lot and “solidify” the experience with the foam cutter and the water.
Festivals offer a good opportunity for hands on, but take care that it does not become some dull kind of “I show you what to do” . Your interest and energy should be visible, sensible for the children and the parents, but not overwhelming, intimidating, boring perhaps. After all it is a maker fair where one can meet enthusiastic makers who make weird things, and even better: join them, become an inventor yourself. That is what is expected by the visitors so give it to them.
For many children the story behind it was not so important, just part of the play. They enjoyed the cutting and the playing with water. They could build their own fantasy, eventually triggered by stories or examples about the rivers, dikes. Some children are very concerned about the raising sea levels and then you better listen and watch what they are building or inventing. Let them discover! Give them the materials, tools, eventually some examples when they need that and sit back.
A great book about children and creativity is: ” Hoe creatiever hoe liever” by Susan van Delft ( I found it at the maker fair)