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August 20, 2023

From Concept to Creation: Diving into the World of Toy Design – Aanya Arora, BArch 24

by Aanya Arora

Sunday 13th August 2023

From Concept to Creation: Diving into the World of Toy Design

Recently, we embarked on an exciting journey of designing our own marble runs, delving into the realms of energy, matter, and creativity. The process began with a thoughtful discussion on energy and matter. Students explored the various forms of energy, from potential and kinetic to the fascinating world of chain reactions. This laid the foundation for their marble run designs, as they contemplated ways to harness and manipulate these energies to create a captivating marble run.

Guiding the students through the creative process, I showcased the versatility of cardboard as a construction material. Techniques such as scoring to create cones, developing slot systems, utilizing the flange technique, and even binding two pieces with string or rubber bands were demonstrated on a board. This hands-on demonstration sparked the students’ imagination, inspiring them to combine these techniques in innovative ways.

Cardboard as a construction material demo board

As the students set out to design their marble runs, the classroom was abuzz with creative energy. One student, overwhelmed by the challenge, said to me “Mein nahi banapaogha” which means ‘I won’t be able to make this’. I encouraged to focus on the base structure first and he slowly began to change his outlook. Recognizing the need for vertical space, he taped his cardboard piece into position on the shelf and began building. What followed was a cascade of creativity – a testament to the power of persistence and innovative thinking. Drawing inspiration from the recent car design workshop, he even envisioned an extension of the marble run into a miniature car that could transport the marble to new destinations. This interplay of concepts showcased the interconnectedness of various disciplines and the multifaceted thinking nurtured through such projects.

As the marble runs took shape, it was time to put them to the test. We timed each groups creations, with the students eager to see how long their marble could journey through the intricacies of their design. Times varied from a swift 00.58 seconds to a more leisurely 2.20 seconds, considering the constraints of limited space and cardboard resources.Students talked about their creations, explaining their design choices and recounting the lessons learned during testing. We even did a critique (similar to the ones but not as cut-throat!), encouraging students to appreciate each other’s work and identify areas for improvement. The recurring feedback included widening spaces for the marble, reducing the use of tape, incorporating protective barriers to prevent marble escapes, and introducing more zig-zag segments to prolong the marble’s journey. Students were enthusiastic about redoing their designs with the feedback to see if they can make the marble run for a longer period of time. 

Testing the lengths of the marble run journeys

Marble Run designs by students

Upcycling Workshop: Transforming Waste into Artistry 

In order to get a better understanding of the materials available and the lifestyle of the wastepicker women which I will be conducting the workshop for I visited the Vivekanand camp. At this camp, Chintan has a 3-year program in motion orchestrating positive changes within this community while addressing waste management challenges. Nestled in the heart of Chanakyapuri, amidst the presence of embassies and schools known as ‘bulk generators’ of waste, the camp houses approximately 85 families. The husbands navigate the neighborhood on their rickshaws, diligently collecting discarded materials. Upon their return to the camp, a designated space – either within the camp or right outside their homes – becomes a hub of activity. At the camp the remarkable wastepicker women commence their meticulous sorting process. Each piece is carefully evaluated and categorized based on its quality, a pivotal step in preparing the items for sale to the kabadiwala (a local term for waste buyers). 

Designated space for waste sorting at Vivekanand Camp

Sorting paper into 3 distinct groups

There are 4 main categories of waste – paper, plastic, glass and metal. I watched as they categorized paper into three distinct groups: pristine white paper, worn/dirty out paper, and full newspaper. The white paper garnered the highest profit among the three categories. Metal pieces, too, underwent a fascinating transformation. Through a series of skillful hammer blows, these pieces were reshaped into forms more suitable for recycling. This hands-on process culminated in the sorting of metal into two essential categories: aluminum and general metal. I also saw how plastics were organized into different categories depending on their form. For example, they had an entire trash bag filled with Bisleri Mineral Water (local water brand) plastic wrapping, which is used to wrap several water bottles together. I collected samples of different materials such as plastic wrapping, thick plastic packets which are used to transport milk and large plastic bottles. I have been experimenting and prototyping ways that these discarded objects can be transformed into surface materials which can be used to construct different objects. 

This visit unveiled how within these discarded materials lies the potential for transformation. The wastepicker women of Vivekanand camp are not just sorting waste – they’re driving change, embracing upcycling practices, and demonstrating the power of collective efforts in shaping a greener world. I am looking forward to putting together this upcycling workshop for them to assist them in harnessing their artistry skills to transform the waste into sellable objects to improve their livelihood. 

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