Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

The Extraordinaires Design Studio Pro

The Extraordinaires Design Studio Pro

Fall 2015 Toys
Ages: 16 & Up
Manufacturer: The Creativity Hub
Price: $79.95

When developers of the original Design Studio heard professional designers were using the Extraordinaires kits as a learning activity, they expanded the kits with this advanced version offering more complex challenges, and specific ways to reflect on that design. Simply put, the goal of the Design Studio is to teach how to design for others.

How does it work? Imagine you have select the "Circus Acrobat" as your Extraordinaire client. By reviewing the back of the card, you can see pictures of her in everyday life, seeing her reading a book on motors in her small travel trailer, view the creative way she fixes the engine of her truck by performing a headstand and holding the wrench in her toes, and see a black and white picture on her dresser of family members in the circus. You start shaping in your mind who this individual is, what her needs are, and how her life gives her specific needs and desires. Then you decide if you want to create a vehicle, invention, gadget, building or clothing for her, and pull the card to create. Maybe you are to design a remote control for her, or sleepwear. The "think cards" prompt you to explore your challenge in more depth. If you chose to create a gadget, the card may encourage you to think about how it would be stored when not in use, or how decoration can make the gadget more appealing. These "prompts" lead the player/designer to consider a variety and range of aspects, and how the end product can truly serve the user.

We thoroughly enjoyed the challenges and the outcomes; there's lots of learning and play value here. But the most intriguing take-away was to realize that design can be learned: that the questions, approaches and reflection can be trained so that the process can be applied to designing anything. That is where this kit shines brightest.

Barbara Chamberlin   ©2015 Parents' Choice
Barbara Chamberlin researches and develops educational software and media at New Mexico State University's Learning Games Lab. She and her husband have two boys.

Look for this product at:
The Creativity Hub

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