REACT commissioned the authors of this paper to explore the Young Coaches’ impact on and experiences in Play Sandbox. This paper shares what Play Sandbox taught us about how to involve children in designing and making things quickly. It is built on the voices and experiences of the adults and children involved, as captured through action research that worked alongside the Play Sandbox. The specific research questions that frame the findings in this paper are:• What happens when children participate in collaborative R&D?• What factors influence how that participation unfolds or is limited?• What facilitates the effective, meaningful involvement of children’s participation in collaborative design of products or services for children?
As well as exploring how Play Sandbox involved children in collaborative design, the research also aimed to offer a useful reflective tool to the REACT team during the Play Sandbox period. We chose an action research methodology to encourage reflection, feedback and adjustment. This approach aligned with REACT’s ethos, where participation, reflection and sharing with Sandbox community are as important as scholarly observation. Interim findings were shared between researchers and the Play Sandbox production team, in order to feed into the design of the remaining work with Young Coaches. We used the following methods to collect data:• Observations at six Play Sandbox workshop days (out of eight)• Interviews with six design teams (during the Sandbox and after it finished)• Interviews with five REACT staff members and advisors• Interviews with eight Young Coaches (out of 14)• Focus group with parents/carers• Documentary analysis including the collection and analysis of photos, letters and emails and other items