It was my first time at the Interaction Design and Children (IDC’13) conference and I didn’t know what to expect. But how can you go wrong when some of the presentations look like this:
Or when this is part of the conference?
But, seriously, I was absolutely blown away by the raw energy and joy of the first session where three kids from Sierra Leone talked about how they made amazing designs out of found objects. This was followed by a series of amazing talks that showed the efforts that were being made to make programming and digital design accessible to youth and children as young as 5! (Check out Scratch Jr.)
There was a strong contingency from MIT and I got to meet one of the creators of Makey Makey who was happy to hear I had experimented with his invention in Bhutan. Other amazing projects included tangible musical instruments for children with severe disabilities:
And glasses that superimpose text and images and video for children with hearing impairment (it was my first try of something Google glass like!):
The talks were so inspiring that I had trouble sleeping when I went to my residence in the evening and kept dreaming of starting an NGP, an NPO, a startup, whatever!!! to work with creative children and youth (especially in developing countries and disenfranchised part of society).
I really like this community as they are passionate about what they do and are believers in the Maker/Hacker movement, something I am very interested in. I met a developer who gave me a copy of his iPad application saying “do something great with it!”
I also became aware of an important figure in this area: Seymour Papert was an MIT researcher who linked the work of Jean Piaget to computational and programmable material. Thus, bridging the world of child psychology with the maker/tinker world.
We finished the conference in style by dancing till the morning at the Bulgarian Bar in the Lower East Side 🙂