How might we honor and preserve the time in a child’s life when they are most creative to help them see themselves as a creative person later in life?
Role: Industrial Designer (Individual Project)
Myself, age 5 (left) and my childhood drawings, age 5 (right)

For my senior capstone project, our prompt was simple: to find the intersection of your skills and talents with a problem space that you feel you could help. Minoring in psychology with a concentration in child development, I was fascinated by the fact that creativity is one of the few traits in a person that gets worse over time, and that people are most creative around the ages of 4 to 6 years old.

This project aims to highlight this fact while showcasing to children that their ideas have merit - while they may be limited by the tools available and their fine motor skills, 
the core ideas they create can spark inspiration and joy 
for others.

Key Skills:

  • 2D to 3D Translation
  • Concept and Toy Manufacturing
  • Emotionally Durable Design

Tools Used:

  • Soft Good Sewing
  • 3D Modeling and Printing
  • Woodworking

The First Toy

A soft good doll made from a kindergartener's self portrait

The second toy

A wooden dinosaur with cantilevered weighting and moveable arms

The third toy

An SLA printed posable figure made from a kindergartener's self portrait

The fourth toy

A soft good anaconda snake with a see-through stomach to see the SLA printed figures it has eaten

Process

A personal goal that I had for this project was to work across mediums to create the toys, as I wanted the material to match the style of the original drawing while also pushing my own fabrication skills. The final toys were made in wood, SLA resin printing, and fleece with embroidery details.

As I worked through the design for each toy, I also incorporated an interaction to increase the level of engagement with the final product. The SLA printed figure is fully adjustable with the arms, legs, and head able to move around the body, and the anaconda snake has a tulle fabric pocket “stomach” to show what the snake had eaten, just like the drawing. Each toy presented its own design challenges (like the cantilevered shape of the dinosaur) which were a great challenge to try and solve (making the front of the head hollow and weighting the back of the head with solid wood).

Impact

At the end of the project, I had the opportunity to present my work to the entire kindergarten class at the Children’s School to see their reactions, both with what I got right in the translation of their work and what I interpreted differently. The reactions of the children in seeing their ideas come to life was incredibly rewarding, especially with my talk coming at the end of their classroom unit on inventions to talk with them about what they can do with their ideas.

After the presentation, I gave the toys to the families of the children who had made the initial drawings along with a handwritten note describing the project. My hope for this project is to spark joy in the child in seeing their idea come to life, but also for their parents and for the child when they are older - to look back on this project fondly as a reminder of their creativity and imagination during this time.