Friday, July 18, 2008

Day 5 - Brainstorming and Barbeques!

Having spent Thursday researching past work on their project and the environment in which the problem was situated, participants were free to begin to begin brainstorming for ideas. The day began again with some sessions given by Ben Linder on the different ways that one can potentially capture ideas using tools such as Brain writing, Bissociation and Grouping. After this the participants broke into their respective groups and set about coming up with both general and specific ideas about the direction they felt their project could move in. It wasn't long before the walls of the various classrooms were covered with sticky notes containing seeds of ideas that will hopefully grow to enable the participants to create something special and unique over the course of the next four weeks!

Some sample ideas in sticky note form

Later in the day Ben Linder lectured the participants on Thumbnail and Gallery Sketches. The idea behind this was to help participants to learn how to best communicate and conceptualize their ideas to both their fellow participants and to people outside their individual projects. The participants were then given some time to work within their teams on the sketches and then were due to report back to room 32-155, an auditorium in the Stata Centre where the participants have had the majority of their lectures to date, to give presentations to the other groups. This was a great opportunity to see ideas in their early formative stage and it was interesting to see that a lot of teams had left their projects and ideas quite open ,opting to undertake more research during the weekend to further narrow down their thought process.

We then gave participants time to fill out a weekly evaluation so that they could let us know how they feel the conference is going so far and any improvements they think that we could make over the coming weeks. We really feel that this is important to undertake as the happiness of the participants with the set up at IDDS is paramount to the success of the conference. We then plan to hold a lengthy meeting on Sunday evening to discuss these evaluations and hopefully be able to implement some positive changes for the week ahead.

We finished the week off with a thoroughly enjoyable barbecue at the Kresge Pits in MIT. After a quick trip to the grocery store we took out our bag of hand made charcoal and began the rather sizeable task of barbecuing for over eighty people! A commendation has to be given here to Amit Ghandi and Miguel Chaves for staying by the grill cooking meat, kebabs and veggie burgers for everyone for over two hours. We followed up our barbecue with impromptu games of volleyball, soccer and baseball and the level of interaction between participants was great to see. During the game of soccer, Lamine headed the ball particularly powerful on one occasion and George Obeng's, a participant from Ghana, quick comment "he must have been eating moringa!" exemplified the good natured banter that exists between so many of the participants.

The rain threatened to put a dampener on the event but we simply packed up our utensils and moved the party inside! Participants danced late into the night in the 4th floor lounge to Indian, Honduran and Brazilian music. Unfortunately I did not have any Irish traditional music on me but I have promised(with a degree of trepidation) that I will find some and try and teach some Irish dancing moves to the participants - wish me luck!

Hopefully I can have the participants looking something like this come the end of the conference!

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