Blocks, Meet Bear

There were two things everyone had as a kid.  Blocks and stuffed animals.

We’re big fans of using design thinking to ignite new ways of imagining, and new ways of doing and connecting things.

So we wondered?  What would happen if two childhood toys met each other in a 21st Century mashup?  

The answer?  You'd get RoyoBlocks.

Enter Michael Pope.

Michael is a Stanford University masters candidate studying in the Learning, Design, and Technology program at Stanford University and the co-designer of RoyoBlocks, along with Jonathan Kleiman.   Michael and Jonathan created the tool for Paulo Blikstein’s class “Beyond Bits & Atoms” in the Transformative Learning Technologies Lab at Stanford.  

Here’s how Michael describes RoyoBlocks: “RoyoBlocks is a tangible literacy toy that uses RFID technology to allow young children to engage with text in a meaningful way. The kit consists of 60 wooden word blocks that each feature a high-frequency sight word, and a plush reading companion that houses the arduino-powered RFID reader and speaker.”

One word.  Amazing.

See pictures of Royoblocks and watch how it works in the video below, and observe how Michael used design to create a really compelling literacy tool for young kids.

Upshot:  use a design mind and eye to collide idea and idea, object and idea, or object and object.   Create something new.

Our challenge to you:  What two things in your classroom or in your school could you put together in a completely new way?  How could thinking like a designer change the way in which you view the raw materials of learning and how you connect and remix them to design compelling learning experiences for students?  You can get started by learning more about the how to do that with the process of design thinking.

Michael is involved in some really cool projects, so you’ll be able to learn more about Michael and his work in this space in upcoming posts!