NPS Park Ranger


Featured Partner

University of Maryland Human Computer Interaction Lab Kidsteam

In 2005, the National Park Service WebRangers team began working with another design partner – the Kidsteam at University of Maryland’s Human-Computer interaction Lab.

Who is Kidsteam?
Seven children, aged seven to eleven, join with Dr. Allison Druin and a team of talented researchers from computer science, education, art, robotics, and other disciplines, twice a week. Together they are an intergenerational, interdisciplinary design team. They use sticky notes, computers and three dimensional “Bags of Stuff” to review and test existing site features and create new ones.

Five Kidsteam members discuss their ideas

How does Kidsteam assist the WebRangers design team?
Initially, NPS and the National Park Foundation sought out Kidsteam members as testers, or reviewers of the existing WebRangers site. The WebRangers team soon found that Kidsteam could offer much more than reviews.

The “child researchers” soon became valuable members of the design team, updating the site and offering amazing suggestions that helped shape the development of new site features. As the team website puts it:

“Design partners are equal stakeholders in the design of new technologies. While children do not have the same specialized expertise that adults have, they have equal opportunity to contribute in any way they can to the design process. For example, adult researchers that are visual artists or educators can support the technology design process with domain specific expertise and experience. The same can be said of child researchers. They too have special experiences and viewpoints that can support the technology design process. When children act as design partners they contribute at all stages, from the initial idea to the final product.”

Kidsteam members review some new WebRangers activitiesThe Park Service looks forward to more work with the Kidsteam as we work to make the national parks accessible to all children.

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