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Reflections on Explorer of the World playshops – what works, challenges, the future

Making the invisible visible: culturing the bacteria that we live with

Making the invisible visible: culturing the bacteria that we live with

The focus of the Explorer of the World playshops is on creating intentional relationships with our surrounding environment – that is, development of meaningful understanding brought about through experiential learning in people’s own terms. Conceptually, these playshops are about connecting with and understanding the world around us by bringing together artistic and investigative perspectives. The methodology of the playshop series is adaptive with activities that fuse the arts and sciences into the transactions of everyday life in a way that is relevant for people while inciting engagement in science and technology but in people’s own way. Hence, the goal for each playshop reflects the character, state of mind, and interactions of those involved.

What has worked well  in these playshops?

A DIY approach because everyone becomes a co-creator. Playshops as a series also builds trust and community memory as emotional and intellectual infrastructure. And finally, a mixed approach provides people with different avenues for exploration and expression and time specifically dedicated to sharing reflections and experiences has made this possible.

What are the challenges?

Managing discovery (exposure to something new) and expectation (preparing someone for what is to come). As Jacobson and Ruddy (2004) express it – the balance is in getting to know the people better and being open to outcome. It is important to resist imposing a particular learning outcome while also remaining open to the direction of the group or individuals without losing focus of the experience and coming to no learning or reflection at all.

DIY Biology: petri dishes for cell cultures using home-made media

DIY Biology: petri dishes for cell cultures using home-made media

What next?

In the medium term we plan to create a publicly-available method to track the development of the playshops (incl. procedures and outcomes) to guide our discussions on barriers to engagement in research, and develop techniques to overcome them. We will also bring the participating community together to co-author a ‘Community handbook on How to be an explorer of the world’. And alongside we will create a facilitator’s handbook for anyone wishing to facilitate playshops (incl. feed-back loop framework to track and situate the role and development of the facilitators). In longer term, we will develop the playshop series “Researcher Storyteller”, to tell the stories of our explorations.

How can we get involved?

Visit our event page to sign-up to our playshops! The playshops are currently open to anyone 18+. It is an invitation especially to those who have never done anything like this before. We are continuing the series as a predecessor of the Exploring Borders through Art playshop series and its successor For the Love of Mess playshop series. Each playshops series runs once a year with around five 2-2.5 hour-long playshops in each series.

Playshops in this year’s series

Playshop #1: We are all explorers!​

Playshop #2: Observe, contemplate, wonder

Playshop #3: Explorer’s day out + picnic!

Playshop # 4: Bringing it all together!

Playshop # 5: Explorer’s day hacking

Playshop # 6 Building our own tools: Arduino humidity & temperature sensor



Jacobson, Micah  and Ruddy, Mari. 2004. Open To Outcome: A Practical Guide For Facilitating & Teaching Experiential Reflection. Wood N. Barnes



  1. Pingback: The Explorer of the World playshop series 2015 | Citizens without Borders - May 27, 2015

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