Research

A Toy Story

Howard University Architecture Students Collaborate with Temple X Schools on Toy Project for Preschool and Elementary School Children

toys designed by Howard architecture students on a shelf

Howard University first-year architecture students collaborated with Temple X Schools on a class project for ARCH 208: Design Thinking + Making. Incorporated into course curriculum by course coordinator and architecture lecturer Martin Paddack, the project “Learning Through Experimentation and Exploration: The Concept Toy/Tool” involved students designing and building conceptual toys or tools for preschool and elementary school students. Architecture adjunct lecturers Robert Klosowski and Jahlik Parkes assisted in leading the class of 44 students and bringing the educational and philanthropical project to fruition.

Howard student demonstrates the toy she designed
A Howard architecture student explains the design and concept behind the toy she created for the project.

This collaboration with Howard University actualizes the very mission and vision of Temple X Schools. Our philosophy puts early childhood learning experience, through play, at the epicenter of oppressed people's liberation. Today's war on our communities does not start in the streets, it starts in the classroom. So instead of guns and bombs, this revolution will be fought with tools for learning: toys,” said Temple X founder Terris King, II. “There are young

young boy tests a toy
A young boy tests out a toy designed by a Howard architecture student

children in cities like Baltimore and DC who are ready and able to change the world they live in. We need them to think critically, engage in the world collaboratively, and to wield curiosity and creativity into everything they do. It starts with play.” 

Paired into teams, students were instructed to create a toy or tool based on one of 20 conceptual actions that encourage exploration and experimentation. Some of these conceptual actions were floating, balancing, bending, stepping, and ascending/descending. Their design also had to consider cultural aspects of the local Black community, the development of motor skills, and strategic thinking.  After following a series of steps from concept to ideation, each team built a prototype of their toy or tool in the Architecture Fabrication Lab.

There are young children in cities like Baltimore and DC who are ready and able to change the world they live in. We need them to think critically, engage in the world collaboratively, and to wield curiosity and creativity into everything they do. It starts with play.” 

ARCH 208 students worked on their projects throughout the semester that they then presented to preschool and elementary school students from the Temple X Lab School in Baltimore at an end-of semester event at Howard University.

King looks forward to cultivating change among local Black communities with more engagements like this one. “Our children deserve the best and Howard University represents the best,” said King.

To show their appreciation, the Temple X students handed out roses to the ARCH 208 students.