In 2020, we received research funding from the UK Research and Innovation – Economic and Social Research Council for an ACES project that focuses on STEM learning using gamification methods and playful learning through aspects of play to build social resilience. The ACES Project is entitled “A Community-Centered Educational Model for Developing Social Resilience (ACES): Playfulness Towards An Inclusive, Safe and Resilient Society”.

Our success in receiving this grant is a follow-up to a collaboration with the GameChangers UK group, based at the Disruptive Media Learning Lab, Coventry University. The group is led by a Sarawak native, Professor Dr Sylvester Arnab, who hails from Kampung Semaba, Kuching.

One of the outputs of this research is to build PlayLab, a “pop-up lab” innovation that has become a trend in the creative innovation group, to display new ideas. The lab concept takes inspiration from Fablab, makerspace, co-working space, and tiny homes; but we chose to focus on a “playful” approach that is perceived as a way to encourage STEM innovation in particular, and for education, in general.

The creation of the PlayLab Lab will highlight innovative sustainable research efforts, and this initiative is in line with the university’s efforts to integrate elements of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into operations and activities at every level. Hence, this PlayLab is known as the Playful Design Thinking Laboratory for Sustainable Development Goals.

For this project, we are very fortunate to have the support of the university management, led by Yang Berbahagia Professor Datuk Mohamad Kadim Suaidi. The university plans to dispose of some old buses that are no longer suitable for use. The university management has given us a bus to be our project material. This is the bus that is currently being worked on as a PlayLab.

The term ‘pop-up’ innovation refers to the concept of “frugal” (prudent/thrifty). Among the specifications in frugal innovation are reuse (reuse) and revamp (remodel) any material that is old or to be disposed of such as old vehicles, buildings, etc. and what needs to be done to make it fit for purpose and in accordance with purpose/objective of the project.

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