Participants: For our trial, we recruited around 50 participants from S1 to S6 in our school, (11-18 years old). We did this out of practicality. We could only afford 50 pencil cases and we had easy access to people in the age group, as well as school pupils having a good use for a soothing pencil case.
Recruiting: We recruited the 50 participants on a first come, first served basis using the school’s daily bulletin to promote what we are doing and a link to sign up through an online form. The online form required volunteers to choose a unique username, this would be used later to match the data from the two questionnaires that they would complete: one before testing the soothe case and one after. We also said that volunteers get to keep the pencil case afterwards.
Materials: Before we got anyone to sign up, we had to create the actual pencil case. We ordered the base pencil cases online with custom images printed onto them which we chose from the Project Soothe database, then we filled the pencil cases with useful and fun items.
Specifically this was: mechanical bic pencil, a coloured gel pen, a scented eraser, a keychain to hold an image, a random squeeze toy, a zipper pull and a stringy stretch ball (see below).
Note: each pencil case had different squeeze toys.
Procedure: We had research team meetings every Monday and in these we decided on everything, after we had gotten the idea of a pencil case, we decided on how we would trial them. We followed the following steps to build and pilot the soothe case in school:
1. Make the pencil cases by ordering all the parts needed and then using a production line style system to fill each one with all the items.
2. Send out sign up forms through the daily bulletin and have people make a unique username which prevents us from seeing answers by specific people within the trial.
3. Before anyone got their pencil case we sent out our first online questionnaire, this asked a series of questions which assessed how stressed they were in the past two weeks prior to using the pencil case, as well as a small personality quiz to see if we’d get any other interesting patterns.
4. The day after we sent our first questionnaire we handed out all the pencil cases to participants.
5. Two weeks later we sent out the second and final online questionnaire. Here we asked the same questions to assess the stress levels and to see what the participants thought about the pencil case and if they had any comments.
6. Afterwards we analysed the data from the questionnaire to see what if the pencil case had any effect on participants’ stress and wellbeing.