Prototyping at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre

Samantha Slade (L) and Paul Messer, both with Percolab, assisted in facilitating the session. |   Samantha Slade, à gauche, et Paul Messer, qui travaillent tous deux chez Percolab, ont aidé à animer la séance.

Samantha Slade (L) and Paul Messer, both with Percolab, assisted in facilitating the session. | Samantha Slade, à gauche, et Paul Messer, qui travaillent tous deux chez Percolab, ont aidé à animer la séance.

On February 16th and 17th the NouLAB Academy teams came together at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre in Fredericton, NB for the much anticipated prototyping workshop.  Both teams started the Academy program last October and have been working on problem framing, system mapping, user centred design, scenario planning, and determining metrics – all to inform what they wanted to prototype by highlighting their assumptions and hypotheses in relation to their respective problems.

The purpose of the workshop was threefold, aiming to help the teams:

  • Develop the prototype mindset

  • Generate strategic ideas for prototyping

  • Create work plans for testing their prototypes over the next month

We kicked off the session with the teams diving into the work they’ve completed to date, and then quickly worked on unleashing their creativity for what would be an intensive two days.  We shared stories of how we use prototyping in our daily lives, for example: you might test a given layout of furniture in your home, and request feedback from your family/roommates (the users) to decide whether it is the right setup or not. As you get feedback you make adjustments until you are all happy with the end result. 

Paul Messer, Associate with Percolab, leads a prototyping exercise using waste management as an example.


Prototyping is simply identifying a need, choosing a possible solution, trying it out, gathering feedback, and refining your prototype based on that feedback – it’s an iterative and adaptive process. One of the key learnings was to ensure that the testing method for a given prototype evaluates the prototype itself, and not the user/s.  It’s also important to make negative feedback useful by learning from it, rather than getting discouraged by it.  If the users give negative feedback, don’t challenge them by defending the prototype.  Instead, ask the question: how could this better respond to the user’s needs?

Graphic recording of the prototyping process by Paul Messer.

Graphic recording of the prototyping process by Paul Messer.

In the afternoon on the first day of the workshop, students from the PDC Student Ambassadors and UNB’s Renaissance College joined the teams to help them tap into additional creativity, adding a fresh perspective by brainstorming ideas to develop in potential prototypes.

The Aging Team brainstorms with students from UNB’s Renaissance College, as well as NouLAB Facilitator Nick Scott’s daughter Chloe. A group representing a diverse range of ages (as young as 9!)

The teams were encouraged to make use of the space as they branched out to various areas of the Charlotte St. Arts Centre throughout the afternoon.  Using improv and Lego to prototype, the teams played out scenarios with the personas they had developed for the exercise.  They then debriefed what they were learning from the feedback they got from developing the prototypes.

Bethany Deshpande and Nic Clement role play a prototype for resolving a conflict of interest.

Finally we finished off the day with an ideation exercise to help the teams identify potential prototype ideas to work on the next day.  Each person was given a blank sheet of paper to fold into eight sections, and asked to sketch an idea in each section – with only 60 seconds per idea. At the end of the 8 minutes they reviewed all of their ideas, picked the best three, and wrote them on index cards. All of these index cards were then posted on the wall for the entire group, and each participant selected their favourite three ideas overall.


How do we work together to change the workplace culture so more women are leaders* (*change agents/systems thinkers) in New Brunswick.


As the demographic landscape changes, the need for collaboration and integration between generations becomes more important.  However, negative stereotypes of seniors as well as of youth often hinder this process and the consequences can lead to abuse, exclusion, depression, suicide and ill health.

A major obstacle to the development of realistic perceptions of both groups within the age spectrum is the degree to which key social groups do not have, as they had in the past, the level of intensive, personal familiarity that came from sustained contact and interaction with one another.

It is in the interest of everyone: policymakers, educators, academics, caregivers, professionals, youth, the media, as well as, seniors to acknowledge that ageism calls for a change in attitude. 

The educational field can provide a space whereby perceptions can be modified.  Intergenerational projects, within an educational framework can contribute to mutual understanding, empathy and eventual collaboration between the senior community, students and the community at large.


Gender team set out to test a gender assessment for businesses helping them to identify a baseline and engage employees around gender roles within their workplace culture.


The Healthy Aging Team is working on a prototype on intergenerational learning with the public school system.

Stay tuned to hear what the teams have learned from their prototypes and how they will integrate that feedback!

Amanda Hachey