Role: Research Assistant

Responsibilities: Interaction design, user research, conducting field studies. 

Team members: Aviv Sharif (PM), Yasmin Keats (design), Andrey Grishko (design)

Advisor: Dr. Oren Zuckerman.

Publication: Sheriff, A., Sadan, R., Keats, Y., & Zuckerman, O. (2017, June). From Smart Homes to Smart Kids: Design Research for CataKit. In Proceedings of the 2017 Conference on Interaction Design and Children (pp. 159-169). Read it here

CataKit is a construction kit aimed to challenge children to design playful physical chain reactions in the age of smart homes. The CataKit is comprised of catapult-esque throwers, as well as catchers, and activators. The child can connect CataKit to her bedroom in a unique construction of her own making. For example, children have proposed ice-throwing alarm clocks and dog-feeding systems built with CataKit. The meaningful connection to the room is a novel concept in construction kit design that relies on children’s unique bond with their bedroom when growing up.

In designing CataKit, We were inspired by Papert, Resnick, and Piaget, who famously observed that children are natural scientists and always experiment. We observe that this experimentation often takes the form of playful mischief. One of our goals with CataKit was to promote positive risk-taking at a time in which parents are highly protective of their children and opportunities to learn from positive risks are scarce.

We hope that when children play with CataKit, they will systematically explore mechanical concepts that we embedded in the design, such as force and trajectory.