Each of our visions tried to engage the theme of persistence in The Very Clumsy Click Beetle in a different manner. For example, some focused on the giving and receiving of positive encouragement. Another approach involved setting and achieving of challenging goals. Other visions were about enabling physical play and movement. The ideas that we felt were best at representing these topics were turned into storyboards. The Children’s Museum provided feedback on these, which helped us to develop a final proposal for the installation. Below you can find four of the storyboards that we presented.
Enabling Physical Play and Movement
This installation idea is divided into two components: a screen onto which an animated click beetle is being projected, and a springy ramp. The beetle, stuck on his back, would struggle to right himself but could not do so on his own. By jumping on top of the ramp repeatedly, viewers would be able to launch the click beetle into the air so that it could eventually flip back onto his feet. Feedback: The museum wished to avoid overt use of technology and a reliance on projection screens.
With this proposal we wanted to encourage children to perform a challenging physical task – in this case, a somersault. One half of a wall would show a step-by-step diagram of a click beetle doing a somersault. When children stood in front of the other half, they would see themselves placed in the landscape of the book, the characters encouraging them to somersault. By performing one, children would take the place of the click beetle and better understand the book’s message of persistence.
Feedback: An unexpected problem was the fact that many younger children wouldn’t see the diagram as a progression of movements being performed by one click beetle. Instead, they would just see four click beetles.
Setting a Goal
Here, our idea was less centered on the click beetle itself and more focused on a personal challenge. On a wall of the exhibition there would be images of three encouraging animals from the book. For each animal there would be a set of toy click beetles with a small challenge printed on the back – for example, “learn to whistle”. The height the click beetle challenges would be placed at would indicate how complex the task was. This allows taller, older children to reach the more difficult tasks. If children completed the task they chose, they could put it in the “whirler”, a glass apparatus which would blow the click beetles around in celebration. If children could not complete their task, they would place their click beetle back on the wall. The animals would then give them gentle encouragements.
Feedback: The idea was more suited to an event or workshop than an installation, as it would require constant supervision on the part of the staff. The “whirler” also seemed a tad anticlimactic as a reward for completing a complex task.
Here we revisited the idea of helping the click beetle flip back onto his feet. A projection on the wall would show several beetles on their backs, all struggling. In the book, the click beetle is visited by a variety of animals that encourage him along the way. Children would take on this role by coming up to the screen and verbally encouraging a beetle of their choice. The more emphatically they encourage, the higher a beetle would flip in the air. If multiple children used the installation, there would be an added competitive element in seeing who could get their beetle to go higher.
Feedback: Much like before, the museum wished to avoid overt use of technology and a reliance on projection screens. Furthermore, it wasn’t feasible to program voice recognition capable of consistently differentiating between abusive shouting and encouraging shouting.
Final Idea: Clumsy Clicky Play Area
After receiving feedback, we came up with the idea to create a circular grassy play area which could accommodate 3-5 children at any given time. The area would try to emulate a natural landscape by having slopes and bumps. The whole area would be pressure sensitive. Based on where children stepped, the installation would play a variety of different noises – the rustling of leaves, the whispers of wind, the soft clicks of a click beetle, and words of encouragement suggesting different physical activities for the children to try.
We also thought we could make the children feel more like the clumsy click beetle by playing with their sense of scale. By adding large pillows shaped like natural stones and pool noodles resembling tall reeds of grass, children would feel like the small beetle surrounded by the much larger world around them.