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Author Topic:   teaching design to children
posted 03-04-2002 09:20 PM              Reply w/Quote

Hello out there,
Classmates of mine and I are working with a group of children around the ages of 8 to 10. The objective of the class is to create a "tool" for teaching design to children, whether it be a toy, product, game, or so on. Right now we are in the process of learning how to inform the children about industrial design so they can make sense of the world around them.
The last time we had meet with the kids we had them sit on the floor and talk about the concept of sitting and what a chair is to them. Next we gave them a packet that contained clay, cardboard, and straws to make their own little versions of what their chair would be. We told them that when ever we design we also use these matials to come up with ideas also.
The next time we meet with the kids we are going to show them around our studios and the facilites in our school.
As for the "tool" for teaching design to kids, my group came up with some ideas and one was "building blocks" but we still do not know what direction to take it in.
Any comments, or directtions to go in, please let me know.
Thanks, Shelly

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posted 03-04-2002 09:33 PM              Reply w/Quote
where do you go to school?

look up info on child psychology and learning patterns: kinisthetic, verbal, visual.. etc. think of the way children perceive things.. they are egocentric, unaware or unconscious of their subjective reality, unable to rationalize other points
of view from their own so the learning tool should cater to and expand upon that. creativity and expression are good learning tools for children to start grasping and abstracting from real experiences.. but please, no more duplos...

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posted 03-04-2002 09:33 PM              Reply w/Quote
give'em some cameras and ask them to take a picture of any object that looks like a chair.

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Chim Chim
posted 03-05-2002 04:01 PM              Reply w/Quote
Talk to someone in the design program at Ohio State University. They have a design education degree and I know of at least one grad (Susan Huntsman- 94') who was researching and developing a thesis on this topic.

This is a great primer:

Basic Visual Concepts And Principles For Artists, Architects And Designers
by Charles Wallschlaeger, Cynthia Busic-Snyder


Good Luck

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posted 03-05-2002 06:55 PM              Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the info.
The class that involves with teaching design to child is an Industrial Design graduate course at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. The group of kids are from the Brooklyn Childrens Museum.
My group has done some research in exploring emergence, talking to other teachers that work with the Cooper Hewit Museum, art educators that work with kids from local neighborhoods, and a lot of other areas.
Anymore suggestions or info i would appreciate it.

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posted 03-05-2002 06:57 PM              Reply w/Quote
I will run that thought by my group if we continue along the lines of chairs with the kids, and will get back to you to see how it went.

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posted 03-05-2002 07:39 PM              Reply w/Quote
Hey there, you might want to just start with fundamental design. form, function, space, how to read things(where your eye falls, why there, what catches your eye). also they could start to keep a journal or take pictures or draw pictures of things that they like how it looks and tell or show them how it is related to design. THE WAY THINGS WORK is a awesome book. Maybe have a product of the week or any example of industrial design. Discussion always brings out good ideas.

Motions is a good one to go through with things they can build themselves.
EX: circular, back and forth, straight and circular, think of gears or pinwheels, pulleys, doors.

Materials are good too. maybe give them different kinds of wood to make a wood ID kit. Tell them about the different kinds of wood.
For that matter different kinds of joints to show them how things fit together.

Have them bring in stuff and let them take it apart so they can see how it goes together ex. snap fits. How could it be better? what don't they like about it? what do they like about it?

brainstorming exercises are always fun with kids to.

hope this helps!
Good luck!

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posted 03-07-2002 04:35 AM              Reply w/Quote
Shelly - Please keep us up to date on how things are going - this is by far one of the most interesting posts on Core in ages.

I think that getting the kids to experiment with different materials is a fab idea - say each design a set object in a different material - it's by far the quickest and most fun way to learn about the positives and negatives of each material for different applications.

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posted 03-07-2002 06:24 AM              Reply w/Quote
to expand on mmmms idea a bit, tension and compression structures can be built from fabrics, poles, simple connectors, and bungies. projects might include chairs, beds, tents, goedesics and hoberman(kinetic geodesics)structures.

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posted 03-09-2002 05:08 AM              Reply w/Quote
why chair?
and whats point u gonna take them into your project?

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posted 03-09-2002 03:13 PM              Reply w/Quote
Hey again,
Thanks again for all the comments. I feel really privleged to be working with these groups of kids and the envionment that i am in with them. As for the websites, I checked them all out and I got some info from them.
Answering neurolabs ? as to why the chair idea, the first time we meet with the kids was in a big room. Other students in my class were in the room along with their group of kids right next to us. We were given a long table to work with the kids, it ended up, not intended, that the students sat on one side of the of the table while the kids were on the other. Becasue of the long table and the distance between the kids and the students, it created problems, problems to not being able to pay attention to who was speaking , but also the non flowing energy of the evironment that was created. Some even fell out of there seats ( don't ask why)
So after talking with my group we decided that what effected the kids the most was there envionment that they were in, and that it did not phacilate a learning atmosphere.
The next time we meet with the kids we broke away from working on the table and moved our group to an isolated area and sat on the floor. The kids seem to not have a problem with that, and paid more attention to what was happening in our group instead of drifting away to see what other groups were doing. The kids became more active with us and involved. The first thing we told the kids was why we were not sitting at the long table, and they seemed to understand the reason. Being honest with the kids is very important and you gain their trust really fast with that.
We went on as to talk about the concept of sitting and what exactly is a chair, we talked more along the lines of it being a throne, giving the kids a feeling of self empowerment. We showed them a chair that looked very tribal with the words "Seats of Powere" above it. Moreover, we presented them with other chairs that didn't have the tradition of 4 legs. We flipped over a chair and asked what it was, and like kids the didn't say it was a chair turned over, but that is was a thing you could swing from, and so on. Esential the chair exersize was to give the kids of empowerment that they too can change their environment. We let the kids know that the materials that they were working with are the same ones we use to get ideas out of our head before we actually start to build what we want. That was also leading into them coming to Pratt and showing them around our studios.
My group took what the kids had made from that seccion and the one previous and displayed their creations in our gallery on a pedastal. I can not beleive how cited they were to see their work displayed in an enclosed case. One kid even grabbed the pedastatl and started to shake it becasue he was so enthrilled about his work. They loved it at Pratt and exploring around the studios.
Well i will mention the next time as to what we are doing with our "tool" to help teach design to kids.

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