Prototyping is a way of testing the concept and functionalities of a project for the first time. Very common in engineering and in automobiles, airplanes and boats production, other areas have found in the process of prototyping an important innovation tool. This is due mainly to the recent popularity of Design Thinking, a methodology based in validating and evolving ideas from prototypes.
Building a first version of a product is the first step to innovation. The process allows you to transform abstract concepts into tangible elements, test performance, evaluate people’s acceptance and analyse improvements. The same happens with knowledge: when they are still just ideas, information and data remain static. If effectively tested in a project – or prototype – theoretical concepts gain more meaning and possibility of application in real life.
According to the Brazilian Society of Physics, experimentation on educational basis creates opportunities for reflexion and helps developing critical sense. It also makes it easier to understand concepts and theory. The practice also helps students learn to accept and incorporate failure as part of learning, a key element for entrepreneurial education.
In educational institutions, prototyping can be used in science labs, do-it-yourself activities, fab labs and makerspaces, creating conducive environments to experimentation. Another way to make teaching more tangible is to put theory into practice in community-oriented projects. The most important thing is to have an idea and not be afraid of putting it into practice!