Alissa Smaill Collab-o-run

  • Tauira / Student
    Alissa Smaill
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Yueyun Song, Rodney Adank, Lyn Garrett, Jason Mitchell

Collab-o-run is a ball run toy for children aged 3+, exploring how toy design can use physical, in-person experiences to develop language and social competence. The product consists of different modules attached to a freestanding board: because the ball passes through the board, children on both sides must communicate and collaborate to agree how to attach modules and create one continuous ball run.

During the secondary research stage of this project, it was discovered that the average New Zealand 2-4 year old spends more than 2 hours a day in front of a screen. Research also suggests that improving language and social competence in childhood has the potential to improve adult education level, employment, and wellbeing. Early childhood (ages 3-5), when language develops most rapidly and when children begin to play socially, is the best time to learn these skills.

Large holes in the board allow a ball to pass through the board and small holes allow modules to be attached using nuts and bolts. Each module moves the ball in a different way and creates a different sound as the ball moves through it. The nuts and bolts were designed in four different styles, each with a different colour, shape, and unique thread pattern, meaning they cannot be mixed and matched. The different shapes and colours also require children to communicate their intentions to other players. Locator rings on the modules help players align modules with the large holes. A storage container attaches to the leg of the board within easy reach of children on both sides, allowing colour sorting of the nuts and bolts.

The materials, colours and form of Collab-o-run were developed to not represent any specific gender, culture, or class, as well as for their safety and lifecycles. Collab-o-run is made from routed plywood and 3D printed PLA.