The City X Project at Startup Weekend Transmedia SF

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I spent today recovering from an incredible Startup Weekend in San Francisco around the theme of transmedia (if you’re not familiar with the term, transmedia refers to stories that are told across multiple platforms). Since The Marshmallow Project is a workshop, online platform and interactive installation, it definitely fits the bill. Nonetheless, I wasn’t planning on working on it over the weekend (I thought I’d try this thing called a “break”). Nope! As Friday night project pitches came to a close I figured why not? and joined the end of the line to present our work. A few minutes later I found myself surrounded by a team of about ten brilliant people and absolutely no idea what to do with them…

Awesome team of brilliant people!

Awesome team of brilliant people!

The point of a Startup Weekend is to find a team and develop a business in 52 hours (Friday-Sunday). Since most of our work takes weeks of planning and scheduling with schools I had no clue what we could do for The Marshmallow Project in that amount of time, but since the theme of the weekend was story (and so far our workshop has absolutely no story), I figured we could work on that.

After much deliberation the team settled on the idea of fictional “City X.” The story is that a colonization ship has just landed on Mars and the settlers have sent back a map. Now it’s the job of the kids in The Marshmallow Project workshops to help them solve the various problems they’re encountering on Mars. We spent the weekend developing characters and problems for the kids to solve, as well as printable components to tie the world to 3D printing. On Sunday morning our teammate Jim brought in his 8-year-old grandson Alex. We told Alex the story of City X and a character named Cooper. Since landing Cooper hasn’t been feeling very well and we asked Alex to design a solution for him. Using Tinkercad, he came up with this “Space Germ Detector.” (Check out the video of him designing it.)

The 3D model created by Alex.

The 3D model created by Alex.

Although Alex is undoubtedly a very smart kid, the structure given by the City X story seemed to help him come up with a solution much more quickly than the significantly more open framework we used at Franklin Elementary in December. I’m definitely looking forward to continuing to test how we can use story to motivate the kids to come up with great ideas!

Overall it was a fantastic weekend with lots of learning! HUGE THANKS to everyone who jumped on board to help!

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