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ARTEDUCATIONALTOY Blog

A KINDERGARTEN TO EDUCATE TO BEAUTY

30 June 2017 — by Fabio Guaricci

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“Beauty will save the world” is one of the most renowned quote by Fedor Dostoevskij. Frequently abused, this phrase was taking seriously by the founders of Baby Caring, a kindergarten to educate to beauty in Milan.

Baby Caring is a bilingual nursery born in a historically important building for the city of Milan: the Mantegazza Foundation, San Calcero 16 street. Here, Laura Solera Mantegazza opened the first kindergarten in 1850 with the purpose of helping female workers not to leave their children. A place that has been destined to host great and beautiful things since its birth has reopened its doors in March 2017.

The core philosophy of this Children Innovation Lab is “Who sows ideas, collects certainties”. The promise, on the other hand, is to educate to beauty, in all its artistic and conceptual nuances, children from 1 to 12 y.o. through a playful and artistic experience. The traditional formative programs are rewrote by the centrality of the child who becomes the active protagonist in modifying, consciously or unconsciously, his training path based on his tendencies and interests.

Education takes place primarily through the daily participation in works of art exhibited like a gallery inside the structure: interiors, as well as furnitures, are signed by big names of art and design; here we find ‘numeric’ paintings by Paolo De Cuarto and fairy wooden sculptures by Duilio Forte. Atelier Forte designed also ‘Ursus’, a big wooden bear that can be climbed and explored by pupils in total safety, demonstrating that in a kindergarten to educate to beauty no details can be omitted and that all contributes harmoniously to the play and educational experience. The workshops are important part of the program too and are designed by renowned artists; an example is Micro-Memory, curated by Armenian artist Liana Ghukasyan, where children are stimulated to create themed images on a paper created in laboratory, in order to make small books.

The educational proposal is based on the theory of multiple intelligences by H.Gardner, a contemporary american psychologist who theorizes the existence of multiple level development in the person, from linguistic to musical or video-spatial. This approach to knowledge allows to stimulate kids under different topics and underline their big potentialities, cultivating beauty and design values. Innovative teaching, in which new technologies and learning blend and promote, also through media and robotics, playful experiences to draw, compose music, design images and create stories.

At Baby Caring Mantegazza innovation touches organizational aspect too: the kindergarten is open all year round, 7 days a week and the tratitional annual frequency formula is flanked by the ‘time’ one that follow the parents working times. In this way school support the work-life balance of the family, so hard to find already in the XIX century at the time of foundation of the building, let alone in today’s society.

Baby Caring Mantegazza is a positive news not only in the world of education. In a historic moment where neglect or badness often prevails, a kindergarten to educate to beauty is what it takes to turn a quote into real hope.

AUTISMDISABILITYEDUCATIONALTECHNOLOGYTOY Blog

ROBOTICS AND TOY DESIGN TO SERVICE DISABILITY

16 May 2017 — by Fabio Guaricci

Nowadays the implementation of technology into medical environment is an hot topic, like the one of collaboration between robotics and toy design to service disability. There are plenty of case studies to demonstrate how progress in these fields is run by enlightened minds and by project teams made by people with different and sometimes opposite backgrounds. Most of times, exactly for this reason, they reach unexpected results.

DESIGNEDUCATIONALTECHNOLOGYTOY Blog

TOY DESIGNERS CAN USE TECHNOLOGY TO EDUCATE

12 April 2017 — by Fabio Guaricci

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We live in a world where technology breakthrough run fast, so we asked ourselves how toy designers can use technology to educate. New technologies for the users change, and often simplify, the way in which we approach our daily reality and not only. Among many sectors involved there’s also the education: school is slowly leaving its skin made out of books, exams and memorization to wear the one of new ways of teaching, often based on learning by doing.

DISABILITYEDUCATIONALSOCIAL

A STORYTELLING TOY FOR KIDS WITH SPEECH DISORDER

31 March 2017 — by Fabio Guaricci

Speech is something which normally develops in the first three years of life. But sometimes there are kids with speech disorder where the development is significantly delayed and underdeveloped. When a speech disorder is identified it is important to address the disorder as soon as possible, preferably when the child is between 4 to 6 years old. For these children is very important to do speech exercises to improve their skills and go beyond their limits. These exercises are normally supervised by speech therapists. But the accessibility and time

DESIGNEDUCATIONALTECHNOLOGY

A COMPUTER FOR KIDS TO MAKE THEM CREATORS, NOT JUST CONSUMERS

18 January 2017 — by Fabio Guaricci

A computer for kids can be something that could be difficult to figure out. Ok, think about something saying to you: “Hello! I’m KANO. Thanks for bringing me to life. What should I call you?”. This is the first sentence that the Kano computer says. Kano is a DIY computer kit designed to help kids assemble a computer and learn basic coding skills.

What’s the reason? Today, children grow up surrounded by objects that appear magic. It’s rare for them to actually know how a computer works. The main aim consists in teaching non-experts how computers work ‘under the hood’.

EDUCATIONALTECHNOLOGY

HANDS ON CODING FOR PRESCHOOLERS

12 December 2016 — by Fabio Guaricci

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“Teach children to code before they can read.” This is the aim of Cubetto, a coding toy aged 3 and up. Why learn this discipline? Coding is one of the most talked topic in our century and it is probably something to don’t miss out. The idea is to teach kids the fundamentals of computer programming through adventure and hands on play.

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Indeed Cubetto is a friendly wooden robot that, without screens or words, allows to learn coding through play. This part of the project is very interesting. Cubetto is designed for preschoolers: children can use it even if they can’t read yet because it removes the complexity of language and screens from coding through a tangible programming language made of different parts. The game is very funny and have a good design both for the objects’ forms and for the imaginary stories that suggests. Children through Cubetto and its different scenarios can live a new story every time and improve their coding skills.

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The coding kit is composed by the Cubetto robot, the control board, the coding blocks, the world map and the story book. Now, does it works? The first part of the game is a little and friendly wooden robot, called Cubetto, characterized by two wheels (and two small bumps to help it glide), that allow Cubetto to roll around and turn left and right, and an arrow on the top to indicate its direction of travel. The game consists in driving Cubetto on the world map by writing a program using a set of colourful coding blocks. The blocks (16 flat plastic pieces) are the coding language, each block is an action. This blocks must be combined each other and placed on the board to create programs and tell Cubetto where to go. There are four different types of blocks: green for “move forward”, red for “turn right”,  yellow for “turn left” and blue for “function” that allows to run whatever sequence is placed in the rectangle at the bottom of the board. The board is a panel with 12 slots for the programming blocks, plus 4 slots for the function and a blue button to give the okay and execute the program. So, to program Cubetto, kids simply place the blocks into the board and then hit the button to activate it.

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It’s a very smart educational toy and a great self-learning tool. There is attention to details. In every step of the game the child is guided. There are the story book and the world map that introduce the child into the adventures of Cubetto and into programming with colourful, simply and funny graphics and illustrations. Then, when the child complete his program and push the blue button, the LEDs blink to indicate which block is currently used. Cubetto is not so fast and it pauses briefly between each instruction. So, it gives kids time to see the effects of their choices and the relation between blocks and movements.

Finally, Cubetto allows children to make an all-around experience in the computational thinking’s world  thanks to its mix of positive technology, material consistency, good designed story and magic poetry. This mix is a good way to make design about the child’s technology education. The designer’s challenge is to disassemble complexity into more simple steps and create a coherent design for the user that will use it.