Smiles All Around

This week, Martin, Chelsea and I had our first visit to the kids we're working with on GetUp, alongside the UC Davis faculty.

Davis is about 2 hours outside of San Francisco, so there was plenty of time to talk during the drive about the project, our ideas and especially the kids. What would the age range be? Would girls have signed up? What kinds of things are these kids interested in? Would they be excited about the program, and willing to share ideas?

It's been quite a while since any of us were in 7th grade, and my last talk to a middle school was quite a while ago as well. So we were also really curious to see the site and feel what it's like to be there. Designing the game has to take into account a lot of factors - and being in a school most of the day is certainly one of them.

Martin immediately gravitated to the front office - sitting like a kid in trouble which made us laugh and laugh. Even just casually glancing around at the office, you could see that the faculty and staff are really focused on making the kids grow and learn. Lots of success-oriented planning, goals and charts.

Outside, in the halls and activity center, posters motivate the kids to think about the future - especially college. I am not usually a big alumni-booster but I really was proud to see the University of Chicago smack in the middle of their US map, listed as one of the many great schools these kids are encouraged to apply for.

On this visit we focused on distributing design journals to the kids - emphasizing that they should be using them to track their daily activities, thoughts and feelings - much as Chelsea, Martin and I keep track of our ideas and feelings in our own notebooks.

We also talked to them about how design is about observation and self awareness, empathy and understanding. Everyone was super excited to get their notebooks and of course draw all over them. We also let them page through our books and see how doodling is a common practice at Funomena. :D

To pass the time during snack, we let them toy around with another program we've been working on with my husband Ben (which I'll post a bit about in the near future). They were curious, excited to play with the program - and also (surprise) totally into games!

We were bombarded with questions about the latest console games, Farmville, Plants Vs. Zombies and many more. I have collected a list of games they are interested in hearing about, and will be reaching out to developers for stories and messages so that they know our industry supports them!

Overall, the visit was a 10 on a scale of 10! The energy and excitement of these kids was contagious, and we are very much looking forward to working on this project throughout 2013!