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Designing Partnership: An Approach to Co-Designing Toys with Children

By: Danielle Begnaud, MID

Date GSEF Grant Awarded: Spring 2020

How would toy design change if children were considered partners in the design process? Danielle Begnaud, in partnership with the KidsTeam at the Human Computer Interaction Lab of the University of Maryland, designed Brain Bridges, a kit of 20 shapes and pieces for kids to design, connect, and construct anything out of the cardboard boxes that they already have at home. Designed to spark imagination and creative play, the set includes fasteners to connect different boxes together and to attach an array of open-ended shapes. So whether you have one box that you attach shapes to, or you have a bunch of boxes that you connect into a big structure, the kit helps children transition into an imaginary world where boxes can be anything. As part of the process, Begnauddesigned a new approach to co-designing toys with children by modifying the cooperative inquiry methodology. With the child and adult design partners at KidsTeam, Begnaud took a project through traditional industrial design phases, including research, ideation, prototyping, and testing. Through the cooperative inquiry sessions, they explored how children conceptualize boredom and how design can enhance children's efforts to overcome boredom.

Screenshot from film provided