Educating the next generation to solve complex health problems through design thinking


Summer Summary: Piecing Together CoLab

Lauren McGrath

One of the best parts about working in the Health Design Lab is that each project is assembled on the basis of multiple smaller project components. Our CoLab project is so much more than a shiny airstream trailer; this summer, we are attempting to turn a tin can into an interactive experience for multiple audiences to collect and display stories of the Kensington narrative that is typically not portrayed. In this blog post, I’m going to shed light on all the moving parts of this project in order to truly appreciate its awesome-ness and “all hands-on deck” approach. 


This summer, we are lucky to be working hand-in-hand with Esperanza Health Center, which is based in Kensington, and Sunday Suppers in creating a new summer 6-week program called Recipe for Health; this program invites families to participate in learning how to cook and manage a healthy lifestyle, complete with focuses on exercise and mental health. We as interns have drafted the name, logo, fliers, and now the actual lesson plans for this program! This will be the basis of the programming that will accompany the trailer on some of its activations.


The internal trailer design has gone through several overhauls at this point; our prototype has evolved from a shoebox to a mapped-out scaled representation, complete with moving models and space to experiment with interaction. We taped out the floor and used old boxes to create spatial representations of the wheel bump outs and cabinetry. We even made our own prototype of Ted letters. This aspect of the project has been challenging, as we aren’t working within the actual airstream space; another visit had to be scheduled to FKB studios to make sure that our new ideas could fit. Our project has jumped from incorporating a mural, to a giant wheel, to a wall full of LED screens! 


Another aspect that funnels into CoLab is the actual story gathering; we initially thought that we would be able to gather stories from those in Kensington we come across outside in the community. After figuring out that the logistics of that idea would not be possible, we had to start reaching out to Sunday Suppers participants and other Kensington community leaders who would be willing to talk with us. We were nervous at first because people were speculative of holding and talking straight into a microphone to get quality audio and being filmed on a camera. Luckily, Kensington community leaders and residents have been so helpful in connecting us with other individuals; in the coming weeks, we are looking forward to multiple interviews, and possibly working with a Kensington-based slam poet!

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CoLab Idea Board

The first step of the prototyping process

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Life-Size Prototype

Matches trailer dimensions