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Karli Dendy Product Design BSc Research Book

The aim of this book is to show my research towards the development of a learning aid for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN), which is inclusive and can be used by all children and perhaps some adults.

Children are our most valuable natural resource – Herbert Hoover (1874-1964)

The product is a learning aid/toy for children with learning difficulties. The product is to be used at home and school. The product is to develop skills in maths and science.

Project Objectives

The product will aid communication, by encouraging children to talk to each other and to parents about the toy.

Special Needs Conference London

Carrington Juniors - Observation in SSCD Unit

The children used number lines to perform addition for large numbers where they cannot use their fingers. The lesson began on the whiteboard where addition was reinforced with a number line. The other tools used were Numicon, to count in tens and add one, and whiteboards where the sum was spoken and then the children had to write out their answers and then read them from their boards. I thought all of these tools were interesting and important in day to day school life for these children to develop.

Precision Learning

A list of four words that the child has to be able to “sight read” quickly. They are given one minute to read the words as many times as they can and are working towards a target. Although this task isn’t very interesting, the child who was performing the precision learning got most excited about being able to choose the alarm sound on the iPhone. Then when the sound was played this was a reward for doing the task.

Workshop 1 at Carrington Junior School

Working with a class of thirty Year 3 children, I asked the class to draw how they would like to learn maths, and then how they would like to learn science. I gave the children 5 minutes drawing time and 2 minutes writing time for each subject.

Observation of Science and Maths Lessons

I carried out individual interviews with the children in the unit. I would have liked to do a workshop with them but after consultation with the SEN teacher the task I had planned would have been too difficult. From the questions I asked about science and maths I understood that they all find it boring but they do enjoy PE.

Individual Interviews

I asked the children how they would keep warm to see the level of their understanding as well as how well they can convey information.

Workshop 2

Design Museum Visit: Dieter Rams, Ergonomics, and Architecture


Good design is making something intelligible and memorable. Great design is making something memorable and meaningful. - Dieter Rams



Described as the science of everyday life, ergonomics combines the knowledge of human performance with design and engineering to create systems, products and services which are safe, efficient and enjoyable to use. This exhibition revealed the importance of ergonomics in creating effective design for the real world.

David Chipperfield

With a style that is restrained, quiet and thoughtful, David Chipperfield is of one of Britain’s leading architects. Chipperfield produces subtle and sophisticated buildings, from museums to homes, with an acute sensitivity for materials and a powerful awareness of their environment.

Design Real was an exhibition where products were taken out of context to be perceived in another way.

Serpentine Gallery

It helped me to think about making my product purpose clear and concise.

The Listening Post

The Listening Post is a ‘dynamic portrait’ of online communication, pulling text quotes from thousands of unwitting contributors’ postings, Listening Post allows you to experience an extraordinary snapshot of the internet.

The Science Museum has an interactive play

Science Museum

area called Launch Pad. This area is where children are encouraged to communicate and learn through playing and doing.

Children and parents communicating and playing with a display in the Science Museum.

Jonty at Numicon explained to me about these shapes which help children to visualise numbers.


Maths is an abstract concept and it really helps if children have a physical form to be able to understand. - Jonty Tacon, Numicon



Injection Moulding Factory

Masona Plastics gave me a tour of their factory where Numicon is manufactured.

Branding is extremely important - if the product doesn’t appeal to current trends then children won’t ask their parents for it.

Advertising and Packaging Museum

Here we can see iconic toys including Mickey Mouse and the Muppets, which are constantly updated and reproduced.

Museum of Childhood

Classic toys such as the abacus, building blocks and play figures inspired me here. I was also interested to see replicas of adult tools, such as a miniature Dyson or a miniature video camera.

National Curriculum for Science and Maths

The National Curriculum is used across the UK to help teachers meet guidelines imposed by the government about what children should know by certain ages. I am looking at key stage 2, and have read the relevant sections of the guidelines. These guidelines are kept very vague although there are requirements of exact pieces of information that the children should know in Year 3. The curriculum is set to change imminently. Key Stage 2 children currently study Maths, English, Science and other subjects separately as well as studying one “topic” a year. Example “topics” are the ancient Greeks or Egyptians or the Victorians. The curriculum will change to combine the “topic” with core subjects. So the Maths they learn could be about counting in Greece or the Science could be based on the Egyptians inventions. This ties everything together and also makes it more exciting for the children.


Science is an integral part of modern culture. It stretches the imagination and creativity of young people. Its challenges are quite enormous. - Professor Malcolm Longair, University of Cambridge


In 2009 more than one in five children left primary school having failed to grasp the basic maths skills required by the national curriculum. In a two-part special, Channel Four’s ‘Dispatches’ documentary asked why and how are we failing Britain’s children when it comes to maths.

Dispatches - Kids Don’t Count

‘Dispatches’ raised some interesting points and backed up the reasoning behind my project. Children lose interest in maths at such a young age because it is badly taught and uninspiring. The children can’t grasp the basic techniques and therefore struggle with more difficult problems. A shocking fact from the documentary was that only one of the primary school teachers who sat the primary school level maths test got all of the answers correct.

A Marketer’s Guide to a Kid’s Heart

I read the book ‘A Marketer’s Guide to a Kid’s Heart’, which is about the psychology behind what children like and how to sell to them. Although the book was first published in 1997 the information it contains is still relevant and helped me to begin my design process by using their design ideas grids and understanding what designing toys is all about. The book gives a step by step insight into how the product should engage children. This is either through using characters which they can relate to or embracing their fantasies of becoming bigger, richer, or even famous. There is a lot of insight into how children see the world as well as how children influence their parents at different ages.

The 2010 Toy Fair was 27th January at the Olympia and is the only dedicated trade fair for toys games and hobbies. Because I went on the last day of the fair I was able to go to all of the top toy competitors’ stands to find out what their products are for this year. High-end electronic toys for Toy Story 3 and Shrek 4 are what most manufacturers have developed. These often include movement sensors and retail for around £50 or more.

Toy Fair 2010

In designing my product, I would like to stay away from electronic toys. Children already spend a large proportion of their time interacting with different types of screens and consoles but this only develops them in one way. I would like the children to use my toy more creativity and interact more with people around them whilst using the toy. Many of the toy companies are redesigning and releasing existing toys. This surprised me, and it seemed that there were very few “new” ideas.


I took my building blocks and shadows concepts to Carrington Junior school to test them out on the children.

Testing at Carrington Junior School

The children found the building blocks fun to make and the blocks helped them to visualise the maths questions I asked them and to find the right answer. Making shadow masks for torches also helped the children to understand more about shadows. These are “quick makes� which could be introduced into the classroom with little cost.

Here the children find the prototypes tactile and continuely fiddle with them whilst I interview them.

Working Prototypes

The children liked different beads because of their colour or texture. They also had strong aversions against colours, or in the case of the animal beads - animals, they didn’t like.



I made prototypes of my beads from fimo to see if the children understood what they represented. I found that the children had already learnt their “pairs of ten� which was originally what I was trying to teach them, however I was able to develop my idea into multiplication beads.

Here is another set of beads showing pairs of ten with a “stopper� bead. The children liked the colours but now had learnt the pairs of ten by rote so my product was no longer needed.

I made this bracelet to see what the children thought of different materials. The metal was good because it was cold against their skin and gradually warmed up which they liked because it played more to different senses.

My final concept is multiplication beads which can be worn.

multibeads karli dendy product design bsc multibeads 07939447479

Research Book  

Final Year Project research book for multibeads product.