Frequently Asked Questions
How do you choose the team's child design partners?
We look for local Maryland children who are excited about technology, enjoy collaborating with other children, and aren't afraid of working hard with adults. Our child partners need to be reflective, verbal, but don't need to have a lot of experience with technology. (They also have to have parents willing to drive them to our lab twice a week, every week.)
How long do the child design partners stay with the team?
It is up to the child. One of our child partners has been with the team for four years. Other partners left after a year due to family relocation. Children stay with the team for an average of two years. Our child partners can stay with the team as long as they wish until they are eleven years-old. Children and parents sign year-long contracts. When a team position does become available, we consult a waiting-list of children who are then interviewed. Our current waiting list is for the year 2005.
What is the biggest challenge of working with children?
New child members on our team have to learn that their ideas are just as important as the ideas of the adults. It takes time for the children to learn how to express their ideas clearly and think "outside of the box". It also takes new adult members on the team time to learn how to work with children as equal partners.
Why do you choose to work with children?
Children have different needs and preferences, they are not just short adults. As adults we can only guess at what they might want. We work with children so we can design ideas that make sense and are useful to them.
Do your child design partners get paid like the adults?
Yes, sort of... each year, our children sign a "contract" with the team, that says that they agree to work with the team for a year in exchange for a gift at the end of the year. Children have received for their work diskmen, Gameboys, digital cameras, Sony Playstations, electronic pets and more.
How can I find more information on your research?