Who better to provide information on what content and topics relating to digital life are important to children and young people than the people affected themselves? The very people affected, of course! And so in mid-October 2021, Smart City Darmstadt’s core team of Mobile City Laboratory technicians set off on their electric cargo bikes for HEAG-Häuschen, a meeting place for children and young people in Darmstadt-Arheiligen (www.heag-haus.). On this day, a media education afternoon was held by the Haus der digitale Medienbildung (HddM, https://hddm-darmstadt.de/) with Peter Holnick, an active Mobile City Laboratory team member.

For several decades now, the doors and gates of the former HEAG administration building have been open every afternoon from Monday to Friday for youth center visitors from the age of ten. You will find a diverse program for employment and qualification as well as of course enough space to chill out or play and “hang out” together. Excursions or “special interest” activities also take place, such as acquiring a PC driver’s license. This is precisely why the youth center presents itself as a promising networking point for the Stadtlabor.

“An important target group of the mobile urban laboratory are children and young people,” Simone Schlosser explained to the youth center visitors on that October day, and Anne Weisel unceremoniously demonstrated the E-Lastenbike along with its teaching materials. “We would like to know in more detail which digital topics are particularly interesting for you, and perhaps also what you don’t understand or are critical of when you think about everyday life with digital technology. Which devices and which applications and apps do you use? How important are streaming services or applications (apps) such as Pinterest, WhatsApp and the like for your interaction and could you still do without a smartphone or laptop?” The children and young people as well as three employees of the HEAG-Häuschen discussed intensively with the Stadtlabor team and together they considered which Stadtlabor offers could be co-designed by the HEAG-Häuschen kids. Of particular interest was the topic “Darmstadt in 3D” or the idea of rebuilding the entire city or certain places in the computer game Minecraft and getting creative with it. The ideas and suggestions that were collected are to be incorporated into the program of the mobile city lab specifically for children and young people and are expected to be implemented from 2022: Darmstadt’s youth will then also be visited by the city lab technicians outside of youth centers with the E-Lastenbike in order to discuss the “digital favorite topics” of the young people. ‘digital natives’at their doorstep.

A big thank you to all participants of this afternoon and especially of course to the children and young people as well as the staff of the HEAG house! Without the kind cooperation of the HddM and the opportunity to present the City Lab at their Media Day, this informative and important afternoon would not have been possible. We look forward to continuing to work with you/all of you!

The webinar ‘Darmstadt HACKT für Wasser und Umwelt’ (Darmstadt HACKS for water and the environment) demonstrated a high degree of creative drive last Friday afternoon: Around 40 participants registered for the 24-hour online event of the Environment/Water participatory project in the Smart City Laboratory to co-creatively develop fresh ideas and concepts for some of the major challenges of Darmstadt’s urban ecology. The participants were given 24 hours, and on Saturday afternoon, they got to present their ideas to a jury of scientists and municipal officials. Three winning designs were awarded at the end of the hackathon and all ideas are being incorporated into the design of the ‘Smart Cities made in Germany’ federal funding programme. Its focus in Darmstadt is on the topic of water and the environment.

The participants worked in eight groups on three predefined challenges, for which solutions had to be developed over the next 24 hours: What could measures in water-sensitive urban development look like? Which green-blue infrastructures could improve the climate and the environment, and how could green buildings be implemented on a large scale?

The concepts developed showed how, for example, the responsible use of water, new ways of planting sealed areas or the use of digital assistants and web portals could lead to making Darmstadt even greener and therefore more liveable.

The results: three winners, three praiseworthy mentions

The jury, which evaluated the eight presentations on Saturday afternoon at the end of the hackathon and selected three winners, found the task far from easy. How solution-oriented, scalable or forward-looking are the ideas? The jurors deliberated their decision for over an hour before announcing the following winners:

First place (€1,000): Groof

An online platform that answers all important questions about greenery and also serves as a platform where new and established facade and building gardeners can meet to discuss plants, garden plots and Darmstadt’s flora. (Team members: Inga Dschinger, Lukas Cramer, Robert Kubiek, Joshua Bodemann, Sven Reule)

Second place (€750): Greening our city

The investment concept develops green-blue infrastructures along three different sized building blocks: from mobile beds and tree sponsorships to unsealing projects and the construction of biodiversity-rich city-wide corridors as green-blue veins of the city map. (Team members: Mallinalli Boss, Vanessa Schwickart, Tamina Milius, Daniel Müller, Hana Ataei, Nora Schwarz, Sophie Pfeil for Architects4Future Darmstadt)

Third place (€500): Benches and cans

A participation platform that calls on all citizens to water fledgling urban trees. Rain collection containers and watering cans are to be attached to posts for this purpose. Everyone from the neighbourhood can thus water the greenery in their street. The platform notifies participants if the trees don’t get enough water. (Team members: Eva von Monschaw, Paula Grzesiek, Richard Gerspach, Jannik Fritsch, Carmen Aires, Tobias Albrecht)

The participants were visibly impressed: ‘Thank you for the great event. We had a lot of fun and are delighted to receive this award,’ said the email of one of the prizewinners.

You can learn more about the hackathon and pitch ideas here in the hackathon reader (PDF)


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