An interesting educational project at AVANS university of Applied Sciences, called "Innovative Studio" has just finished. A group of approximately 15 students aged 20-22 years took AstroPlant to a new level and developed integrative designs and prototypes that made AstroPlant more playful, interactive, and more broadly applicable. Students worked fulltime during two weeks to go from zero to prototype. The project is facilitated and supported by our AstroPlant ambassador and multi-maker Casper Koomen (Blau Lab, Farmhack and other ventures). He has strong technical skills as well as long-standing experience as a designer, and was the perfect person to help the students to go from 'No idea' to splendid prototypes and ideas.

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Although most students found it challenging to come up with a good concept, gradually they started designing and developing relevant and good ideas. During the presentation last Friday it became clear that they had really put in a significant effort in their prototypes and concepts, which ranged from a voice-activated kit with three compartments (for different parallel experiments, good idea!); an upgraded v4 design with lots of interactive tricks (drawers with physical objects plus cards linking to online resources and quests); and a 'Planthaton' programme that involves different disciplines (and interests) to build and use AstroPlant. Interestingly, several of the groups mentioned experiments with music and plants.

About the Avans Innovative Studio
Our 21st century society needs professionals who are able to work together in an interdisciplinary way and apply their innovative power effectively when it comes to designing creative solutions to topical problems. The challenge is both to provide for this need and to contribute towards achieving the Avans Ambition 2020, which champions a multidisciplinary approach, flexibility and diversity.

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With the new Avans Innovative Studio and its innovative educational concept, we are going to tackle this challenge head on. At the Studio, young up-and-coming professionals work together with studio coaches, Dutch and international experts, and wider industry to produce innovative solutions to topical problems faced by organisations. Solutions that are novel and fresh. Solutions that can be rolled out in a real-life situation.

At the heart of the educational concept is cooperation with several educational institutions and regional companies and organisations, strengthening existing relationships and forging new ones. Together with the studio projects, the companies and organisations themselves provide subject expertise. Working on and with this new kind of education in the form of the Avans Innovative Studio provides an insight into how we can apply new educational principles, how we can tackle challenges using a multidisciplinary approach, flexibility and diversity as part of the Avans Ambition, and how we can capitalise on, strengthen and deepen relations with the professional field. The insights and experiences, as well as the educational concept itself, will be available to schools within Avans. Ultimately, all study programmes can adopt or apply the concept to their own context – even on a quarterly or half-yearly basis – in cooperation with other programmes and the professional field in order to ensure multidisciplinarity.

A vital part of the Avans Innovative Studio is exposure. From the outset, it is made clear what we do, how we do it and what results the Studio delivers. This is a showcase that gets new students and potential clients excited about the Avans Innovative Studio, challenges other Avans study programmes to apply the educational concept and entices Dutch and international experts to get involved. The final results achieved by studio projects then inspire a wider audience to use the solutions produced in practice.