Sensing Nature: Experience Design for Learning the Interplay Between Materials and Emotions

Sara Lucía Rueda Mejía

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

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While the importance to human and planetary well-being of meaningful
contact with nature has been well documented, less attention has been
paid to creating educational activities that correlate emotional well-being
with nature. This study is transdisciplinary research-in-practice, focusing
on three main matters: human-nature connection, materials (from nature),
and emotions (from humans). This project i) co-designs digital-physical
learning experiences – from enquiry into sources to construction of 3D
prototypes – to explore relationships between emotions and materials, ii)
explores tangible and intangible tools such as meditation and natural inks,
iii) investigates the effects of sensorial experiences with nature on children’s
behaviour from a social and environmentally-sustainable perspective. The
aim is to create meaningful learning experiences to enhance children’s
understanding of themselves and of the natural world. The approach is
mixed-method; the primary methods are Participatory Action Research and
co-design, including workshops with educators (n=35) and children (n=80;
aged 12-13), and co-creation sessions with field experts (n=11) in Psychology,
Design, Education, Cognition, and Materials in Finland. The outcomes are
the design and evaluation of a toolkit including i) the 4h-step process and
ii) guidelines for educators to implement “Emotional Nature” learning
experience to explore the origins of emotions and materials. This study
contributes to Finnish and global discussions in environmental education
related to emotions and nature, and UNESCO’s Sustainable Development
Goal 4: ‘Quality education’. It is the first stage of a broader ongoing research
project called Sensing Nature.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Design After
Subtitle of host publicationCumulus Conference Proceedings Bogota 2019
PublisherCumulus Association, Aalto University
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)978-958-774-912-0
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventCumulus Conference: The Design After - Universidad de Los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Duration: 30 Oct 20191 Nov 2019

Publication series

NameCumulus Conference Proceedings Series
ISSN (Electronic)2490-046X


ConferenceCumulus Conference
Internet address


  • human-nature connection
  • education
  • well-being
  • sustainability
  • biomaterials


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