As we near the end of 2019 and look towards 2020, where our activities take on a new exciting phase in locations across London, our Director of Experience and Learning Tom Doust and team share their highlights from our time at The Workshop and look forward to next year.

Places and Spaces to Imagine

The heart of the Institute of Imagination’s (iOi) mission is to realise a permanent space for the imagination. On our journey to securing this space, we have been running Imagination Lab, a programme of activity that will allow us to open a fully developed permanent location, one that is responsive and connected to the rapidly changing world around us.

Over the past three years, our Imagination Lab programme has operated out of a disused Fire Engine warehouse called The Workshop, located just behind Albert Embankment along the River Thames, thanks to the Developers U+I. U+I wanted to turn this ‘meanwhile use’ warehouse into a ‘worthwhile use’ space before its transformation into a new development. With its colourful Willy Wonkaesque ventilation tubes twisting and bending along the ceiling and its raw surroundings, The Workshop provided us with some wonderful spaces for thousands of young (and older) minds to imagine.

2020 will begin a new chapter of events, workshops and festivals for the Institute of Imagination, which we’ll be announcing the details of in the new year. They’ll take place across the capital and beyond in new venues and although we’re saying goodbye to The Workshop, we couldn’t be more excited about what’s coming next.

Here, we look back at an incredible three years of Imagination Lab at The Workshop, in London’s borough of Lambeth, with a picture story of highlights nominated by the Experience and Learning team. I found it impossible to pick just one, but it’s been a pleasure to look back on the events run in The Workshop where we have welcomed over 43,000 visits through the door since our first event in 2017. Thank you to all the funders, partners and volunteers that have brought the space to life with us. Enjoy our highlights and we would love to hear yours too.

Tom, Director of Experience and Learning

Jess, Imagination Lab Manger, chose Mega Maker Lab

“Mega Maker Lab has got to be my favourite event! It was so much fun designing and building the space with local children, and then seeing hundreds of families immerse themselves into our maker activities. The variety of inventions was super impressive!”

In May and June 2019 we ran workshops with school children to design and build a summer family experience. The result, the Mega Maker Lab experience, ran throughout August this year. Stay tuned for more news about its return in 2020. Mega Maker Lab was kindly sponsored by Rolls-Royce UK, Black Heart Foundation, Gratnells and LEGO Education.

James, Imagination Lab Events and Facilities Manager, chose Lab Live: Cardboard Weekend

“Working alongside Chris Gilmore, an amazing cardboard artist, opened a new world of creations with cardboard for me. It was so much fun seeing children build robotic hands with the cardboard and then see them trying to pick things up with them. Creating reindeer heads which could then pick up cardboard presents created a fun competition and brought out the competitiveness of the team, too!”

Lab Live events were takeovers of the Engine Hall, a 12,000 square foot space in The workshop where we ran events with partners every few months. Cardboard Weekend was an exploration of all things cardboard, from making light-boxes and moving robot hands to creating a collaborative cardboard city.

 Emma, Imagination Lab Creative Lead, chose Lambeth Sparks

“The final session for Lambeth Sparks was fantastic, touching and heart-warming; one of my best days at iOi! This programme is great testament to Paul, Jess and Helen’s (our facilitators), the incredible volunteers and the wonderful children and parents that attended the programme. The engagement at the beginning of the 8 week course was challenging but by the end the children walked into the space engaged and motivated. I’m looking forward to the next Tinkering Club in Streatham and Loughborough Junction!”

Lambeth Sparks is currently in its second year. Lambeth Sparks is a three year community focussed programme providing creative digital skills for Lambeth children aged 7-12. In October and November 2019, we ran the first 8-week tinkering club, a drop-off after school club for 40 children where they got to work on projects together and explore new technology. The programme continues with tinkering clubs in Streatham Hill and Brixton in the new year. The Lambeth Sparks programme has been kindly supported by the Walcot Foundation.

Karien, Programmes Manager, chose Lab Learn Hub: Space Exploration 

“I loved our Lab Learn Hub: Space Exploration, a new concept that delivers interdisciplinary, experiential, creative and digital workshops bringing together children alongside Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training for their teachers and teaching assistants, on how to make better use of digital and creative resources in the classroom. It’s been so fantastic to see the children do things they have never done before and teachers get a better understanding of the power of creativity, play and cross-curricular learning. Taking the learnings and creative tools back to the classroom is essential for real change to take place. And that is what these Lab Learn Hubs are all about.”

This event was a first for iOi, as it involved running a training session for 25 teachers and a schools workshop for over 160 students simultaneously. This new format gives teachers the chance to take part in CPD without taking time out elsewhere and we’re looking forward to more sessions in Southwark next year. Lab Learn Hubs in Southwark have been kindly supported by Sir John Cass’s Foundation.

We hope you enjoyed our highlights. We’ll be back with events in new locations next year, but if you’re looking for things to do this month why not join in with makember? We’re sharing ideas for things to try out at home or in the classroom all December, so you can keep tinkering, experimenting and playing.

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