Workshop activity 2: Stretch your mind, get ready


Participants may come with a variety of expectations. You need to quickly get them into the mindset of being actively involved in the workshop and to using a design-based approach in the session. Active learning means that everyone (regardless of roles, age, background) contributes to the task, does hands-on work and discusses what they do with other group members freely. Design-based approaches ask participants to conceptualise and create future states, ideas and things that don't (yet) exist. There is no one, right answer and it is ok to experiment and try things. The initial words and actions set the tone for the entire session. 

You need:


  • Slide with ‘get ready task’
  • Design materials (LEGO, Play Dough, pens, paper etc)


  • All participants
Time: 25 min
  • 2 min introduction of task
  • 8 min team task
  • 10 min team presentations of task outcome
  • 5 min 


  1. Pick up the tone from the empathetic introduction, you explain that the first task is introducing you to a difficult problem. It will help you get to know each other a little

  2. Select and present one getting ready resource: 

    1. Design a planet, 

    2. Design your team’s superpower, 

    3. Build a Spaghetti tower.

  3. Prime group: Reassure groups that there is no right answer. They need to work as a team. Everyone contributes ideas. They need to actually make (draw, build etc). They need to talk about their ideas to group. They need to write them down. No idea is a bad idea (yet).

  4. Keep the teams within time limit.

  5. Allow each team to present to the entire workshop for 1 min each.

  6. Discussion

    1. Ask participants what skills or abilities they have just used. Note their answers down visible to all, e.g. whiteboard or flipchart on the screen

  7. Feedback to teams:

    1. Skills they have shown already and which will be developed more today

    2. Reinforce: They worked as a team. Everyone contributed ideas. They were active (drew, built etc). Talk about ideas to group. Wrote them down. No idea was a bad idea (yet)

    3. Advanced - requires advanced knowledge of ‘difficult problems’ and the ‘design approach’ : pick up on levels of framing a problem and exemplify: 

      1. Planet - what’s on it (zoom in) - embedded in the solar system (zoom out)

      2. Superpower - objects in use (zoom in) - interconnected systems and effects/aim and goals (zoom out)



Example planet designs.

Limitations or challenges:

Accommodating latecomers: set them on a separate table to form a new team and get them up to speed with the task (see Preparation 3) . 

Try to encourage silent, reluctant, or inactive group members by giving them a free idea!

Picking up on how teams framed the problem of ‘planet’ Universe scale to things on the planet scale

Associated training activity:

In your peer group, do one if the above activities, as if you were a workshop participant.

Share your experience with your peers and trainers. What have you learned? What skills did you use? 

Advanced activity

As you gain experience in running this activity, make a note in your teaching diary of what you think makes this activity successful. Try to make these properties you can communicate to others, e.g. The activity is very easy to describe; or The activity is fun (but not too much!).

When you have a reasonable list of properties, design your own Get ready activity and assess it according to the properties you outlined above.

Last modified: Wednesday, 26 Feb 2020, 15:01