Design Play is Design Thinking for children. It is an open-ended, foundational creative framework that builds on what children already do as they play. As they imagine, create and collaborate with others, Design Play helps kids understand they can influence their environment. Their empowerment leads to change in their environment and beyond.
The intent was to develop an offering that in no way interfered with educators' existing curriculum. A major finding during our primary research was that educators were open to new material, but that it must supplement and not supplant existing content.
Thus we hoped to design an easily memorable framework that could take shape in any number of forms (books, games, videos, puzzles, etc.) One that could live outside of the classroom, or be delivered with existing curriculum—not changing what was taught, but how teaching was implemented.
Core77: How did you learn that you had been recognized by the jury?
Many in our group learned of the contest results watching the webcast together using Gchat. It was an early morning for those on the West Coast (6:30am). The runner-up and honorable mention winners went first, which confused us somewhat—but at the 12:25 mark, Design Play was announced. There were virtual high-fives and excited screaming in front of computer monitors across three time zones. Text messages and emails went out to the rest of the group (and alumni at CCA) and all were soon checking the results on the Core 77 website.
The judging panel had many great insights regarding all of the finalists, and our team was honored to be recognized among them, and for the finished result of months of effort poured in. It was also perfect that we were judged by an international panel—our project collaboration was across three United States time zones, so it was fitting that a jury from Europe was part of the process.
What's the latest news or development with your project?
Three of the group members have continued to work together toward developing specific tools that integrate Design Play—the latest being an interactive storybook that links cross-cultural problem-solving. The title of the series is Adventures in Design, and it takes shape as a tablet and printed storybook. Interwoven with an engaging story line and characters are a collection of fun Design Play activities that offer children a self-guided experience as they learn design thinking principles while designing solutions to challenges.
We envision global distribution for this educational product, so a "Buy-an-App, Give-a-Book" business model is being used that ensures those who are unable to afford or access the App will still have the book available. It is set up to be an efficient, scalable business that maintains a human core. Visit http://www.designplay.org for the latest about this project.
What is one quick anecdote about your project?
The floods that hit Pakistan in 2010 were the seed for this project—the desire was to design something for the people of Pakistan that would last beyond earthquakes and floods, dictators and politics. Designing a future that would last meant giving not a designed 'thing' but giving the 'process' of design. What better place to start than with kids?
Our research phase identified that children share a basic set of play activities. Attaching design thinking skill-building to each of these activate was the next logical step in developing the Design Play framework. Later, after user-testing with children in a classroom environment, we began to realize the potential impact the Design Play framework could make on a global level. An impact that could be felt equally in the Western world, and in flood-ravaged Pakistan.