CataKit is a construction kit aimed to challenge children to design playful physical chain reactions in the age of smart homes. The CataKit is comprised of catapult-esque throwers, as well as catchers, and activators. The child can connect CataKit to her bedroom in a unique construction of her own making. For example, children have proposed ice-throwing alarm clocks and dog-feeding systems built with CataKit. The meaningful connection to the room is a novel concept in construction kit design that relies on children’s unique bond with their bedroom when growing up.

In designing CataKit, We were inspired by Papert, Resnick, and Piaget, who famously observed that children are natural scientists and always experiment. We observe that this experimentation often takes the form of playful mischief. One of our goals with CataKit was to promote positive risk-taking at a time in which parents are highly protective of their children and opportunities to learn from positive risks are scarce.

We hope that when children play with CataKit, they will systematically explore mechanical concepts that we embedded into the design, such as force and trajectory.

CataKit is a continuation of Oren Zuckerman’s lifelong passion with the design of new construction kits for playful exploration of powerful ideas, coupled with the fresh perspective and creative thinking of the student team Aviv Sheriff and Yasmin Keats.

The first paper, which describes the design research process of CataKit will be published and presented at Interaction Design and Children (IDC) 2017, Stanford.