Pearson’s Kid Co-Lab

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We’ll take you behind the scenes of Pearson’s Kid Co-Lab, a summer program for kids that keeps that busy by producing a literacy app for younger children.

TED SIMONS: Summer vacation can mean a variety of things for kids, but for one group of young people, it's a chance to create kid-friendly mobile apps. Producer Allyson Cummings and photographer Langston Fields takes us behind the scenes at Pearson kids co-lab.

ALLYSON CUMMINGS: A team of young innovators come together every week in Chandler for Pearson's kids co-lab. A network focussing on educating students.

LISA MAURER: Pearson's kid's co-lab is based on 20 years of research out of the University of Maryland. We instantiated the Chandler kids co-lab last year and it has been going on for one year.

ALLYSON CUMMINGS: The lab is involved in creating content for an early literacy mobile app, this is designed for preschoolers who are starting kindergarten.

LISA MAURER: The purpose of the app is to expose the kids to a lot of new vocabulary words and not just the things that they might experience in their life, but the descriptions of those things, maybe what verb or adjective might be going along with that. But the kids don't think about that. They're just exploring and having fun. A typical day for Pearson's kids co-lab into summer is that the kids will show up, will have a snack and everybody will make name tags for each other and then we'll have a circle time question. And everybody sits on this circle and answers the question regardless of their age. Everyone shares their name, their age, the adults alike, and that question will get the kids primed for the task up ahead. And then we will work on a different design challenge that we're given for that day. We have a variety of techniques that we might use, everything from using open-ended art materials and recyclables and building a low-tech prototype to using sticky notes and evaluating a prototype that has already been built depending on where that team is at in the process.

ALLYSON CUMMINGS: The kids perform hands-on activities that translate into the app. 12-year-old Michael France talks about a racetrack they made to help expand preschoolers vocabulary.

MICHAEL FRANCE: We have this app, there's this kids room named Joey on the iPad you can show it and next to his toy box he has a racetrack and it's just like a car and the track and some grass, what else should be on there? So they gave us a paper with the track, the car, we put the fans, stuff the fans are doing, like what are they doing? The checkered flag the would swing, all of that, and the guy to fix the car if it gets messed up all that.

ALLYSON CUMMINGS: What they come up with then becomes product. In addition to that working on projects teaches the young team members skills that are useful beyond Pearson.

LISA MAURER: What we're hearing from the kids themselves is saying that they are becoming more leaders, kind of honing their leadership skills in the classroom as well as being a little more creative about different problems that the teacher might present to them.

ALLYSON CUMMINGS: For Lisa, the experience is worthwhile.
LISA MAURER: Pearson's kids co-lab has been a way for me to merge things that I am passionate about, like the fact that I was a former teacher. Being able to look at the benefits that we are giving to these kids while they're also helping us to solve some of our biggest problems as well as helping kids who will be using these solutions some day. Those are the things that I get excited about with Pearson's kids co-lab.

TED SIMONS: And for more information, you can check out their web site at

VIDEO: We want to hear from you. Submit your questions, comments, and concerns via email at Arizona [email protected].

TED SIMONS: Thursday, on Arizona Horizon, it's time for southern exposure, our monthly news from south of the GILA and we'll hear about a book from the 1919 Chicago White Socks scandal. That's it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thanks for joining us. You have a great evening.

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