iLuv: A build-it-yourself robot that teaches kids about emotions
PROJECT AT MEANDMINE
MEandMine has a foundation of creating kits for children that have the unique experience of teaching them about social-emotional concepts; learning through a read-build-play method and also how to apply them in their everyday lives.
This project in particular was to teach children what emotions are and how to recognize them in themselves and others.
With verification by childhood psychologists, the intial idea for establishing learning about emotions was through the vehicle of a robot, which a child could create and use as a tool for expressing their emotions.
This would be through the aforementioned "Read, Build, Play" framework, which would have the user read the content about emotions, build the product to test their motor skills, and then play with the result to have the concept hit home.
The result was a robot that had articulating limbs and face parts to capture both facial expressions and body language.
While keeping the core concepts in mind, the other ask was to use materials that are inexpensive and safe for children, given that the intention of these products are accessible DIY learning kits.
This ended up being a cardboard robot "welded" together with plastic pins and slotting cardboard tabs to enable it to be both accessible and lightweight.
The front body of the robot also was intended to be the space where a sort of "circuit panel" of emotions could be a sort of interactive area where the user could learn about not only emotions, but also its different levels of intensity.
Further testing with the capabilities of the minimum amount of materials with the maximum amount of flexibility extended to the expressions and the material usage of the parts of the robot.
For the user testing process, we went through several rounds of testing with various kids to streamline the "build" process.
We also gathered feedback from parents and kids as to the "play" aspect--how might the child using this product really understand that this robot can help with expressing their own emotions. This manifested in a card game that the user could use to play charades with their newly built robot.
The full experience introduces the user to the story of a robot named "iLuv", provides instructions to build iLuv for themselves, and then play charades with iLuv to understand what emotions are.