MOM Cards

MOM Cards

An idea generation methodology for creative challenges


One of the key elements to the MOM project is the Mind Over Matter deck of cards. These are divided into four categories: Art, Career, SDG and Concept. By drawing one card from each pile, students generate a random and unexpected combination from which they can develop a challenge and research question.

  • Art cards: These cards outline a series of creative practices ranging from theatre and dance to video and podcast production.
  • Career cards: These are real professions that require both creativity and STEM skills. These include marine biology, sound design, architecture and cartography.
  • SDG cards: The UN Sustainable Development Goals outline key societal issues facing us all today. Including one of these in the challenge ensures that students are addressing real world problems.
  • Concept cards: To ensure that participants are encouraged to think creatively about technical problems, these cards introduce concepts about how we might want to interact with these challenges. These include grow, reduce, distribute, repair, prevent, observe, and so on.

Drawing these cards are the first step toward creating a research question that students can then address by building technology prototypes in collaborative groups. This encourages STEAM skills such as teamwork, critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills.



Drawing Dance from the Art card pile, Mechanical Engineer for the Career, the SDG Goal of Life on Land, and the Access Concept card presents the students with an interesting blend of artistic expression, technical expertise, environmental consciousness, and inclusivity. This combination encourages them to think outside the box and come up with innovative approaches to solving real-world problems, bridging the gap between seemingly unrelated fields.

Here’s how students might develop a research question based on these cards:

Step 1: Understanding the Elements

  • Dance: This card invites students to consider the role of movement, rhythm, and human expression in their project. Dance can be a medium for storytelling, conveying messages, or fostering community engagement.
  • Mechanical Engineer: This card introduces the aspect of designing, analysing, and manufacturing mechanical systems. It suggests a focus on practical, technical solutions involving machinery or tools.
  • SDG Goal for Life on Land: This Sustainable Development Goal emphasises the protection, restoration, and sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems. It challenges students to address issues like deforestation, land degradation, and biodiversity loss.
  • Access: This concept invites considerations of inclusivity, ensuring that solutions are accessible to all members of the community, regardless of physical ability, economic status, or geographical location.

Step 2: Connecting the Dots

To create a research question that incorporates all four elements, students need to research, discuss and collaborate to find a common thread that links these diverse areas. They could start by identifying key issues related to life on land (such as habitat destruction or the need for conservation education) and then brainstorm how mechanical engineering and dance could address these issues in an accessible way.

“How can we use an interactive mechanical installation inspired by dance to educate and engage communities in conservation efforts, and ensure that the knowledge and action needed for preserving life on land is accessible to everyone?”

This question suggests the creation of a mechanical device or installation that uses the principles of dance (movement, interaction, and expression) to educate people about environmental conservation. The project would aim not only to raise awareness but also to inspire action, ensuring that the installation is accessible and engaging for a wide audience. The inclusion of mechanical engineering points towards a tangible, innovative solution that could potentially include interactive exhibits, kinetic sculptures, or robotics inspired by the natural movements found in dance, and this is something that the students can prototype in their working group.

Step 3: Exploration and Development

To answer this research question, students would need to research and explore several areas:

  • Environmental Science: Understanding the specific challenges related to life on land that their project aims to address.
  • Mechanical Engineering: Identifying technologies and mechanisms that can simulate dance movements or create interactive experiences. Students could perhaps interview a mechanical engineer or find out more about what such a job entails.
  • Dance and Performance Arts: Exploring how dance can be used as a tool for communication and education, particularly in conveying messages about environmental conservation.
  • Accessibility and Inclusivity: Ensuring that the installation is designed to be engaging and informative for people with diverse needs and backgrounds.

By merging these elements, students can embark on a multidisciplinary prototyping project that demonstrates their idea and exemplifies the power of STEAM education. The approach not only fosters creativity and innovation but also incentivises the use of technologies and STEM skills to put their creative idea into action. It also empowers students to contribute to sustainable development and community engagement through their work.


The MOM card decks are available to order from us here at MTF Labs, but you can also use this free online, interactive version to try it out for yourself or use in your own classroom setting.

Both the physical cards and the interactive version are available in six languages: English, plus the national language of the five partner countries in the Mind Over Matter project: Swedish, Croatian, Spanish, Lithuanian and Italian.

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