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Getting to Know…Paola Rangel

Student Blog

As our graduate school days are getting shorter and shorter, I have worked with most of my classmates. I am close with some of them and one of them is Paola. I got to know her when we were grouped to work on our Crafting Interaction’s final project, Kiwi. She is also my accountability buddy in our thesis class, where we both keep track of each other’s thesis to-dos. 

Paola’s work ethic is work early and work hard. During our group projects, there weren’t any late night finishing up a final or even scrambling for things last minute. Her thesis is about learning processes of children and how she, as a product designer, can create a product to enhance their learning experience.

Between thesis and our classes, I got a few minutes to talk to her about her thesis and design process. 

Two side by side photos of a young girl doing user testing for an IXD student's project. Girl is reading cards and then jumping on the corresponding dot on the floor.
Two side by side photos of a young girl doing user testing for an IXD student's project. Girl is reading cards and then jumping on the corresponding dot on the floor.

Paola user testing her thesis

Elushika: As of right now, how do you feel about your thesis?

Paola: It feels like a roller coaster ride, sometimes everything seems calm and clear, but most of the time I’m feeling anxious and indecisive. Even when I’m sleeping my mind keeps working and thinking on ideas for my thesis. The process has greatly enriched me as a designer. I’m having a better understanding of kids behaviors, learning processes, and overall understanding of what I love and what I’m good at.

E: Most of your projects evolve around kids and learning. Why is that? What is your interest in that field?

P: It has been a result of my previous experiences on learning new things. One of the experiences that shape me more was when I came to NYC, four years ago. I didn’t speak, read, write or understand English. It took me eight months of English classes to get into the basic level of speaking. Soon after, I decided to change my learning methodology and do something that makes me feel passionate to move forward.

I believe, learning is not just a process that occurs inside of our head as an analytical process. Instead, it’s a dynamic process that our mind and body have to experience and compare with the environment around us in order to construct new knowledge.

Last year, I started to apply this new methodology and understanding. Min and I designed Monster and Do Do, interactive objects to complements children’s education. They were two of the first project I did within the IxD program. At that moment, the reason for working with kids was unclear but later on the reasons become much clearer. 

If I was going to dig in more about learning process, kids are the most enriching people to learn from. Later on, I did more projects around education and kids: Tronic, Jimmy and Kiwi. I did an internship at Toca Boca and volunteered at The Brooklyn Free school. All these experience have taught me to continue doing something I am passionate and good at.

E: What is your design process? What do you think is the most important part of process for your thesis?

P: Working (playing!) as a volunteer in the Brooklyn School have been the most important part of my research process. Spending time with kids from 6 to 8 year-olds have made me an totally understand who they are. Today, what excites me the most is prototyping. No Any idea is good until it’s crafted and kids test it.

E: Say if you had an extra 2 months to work on your thesis what would you do?

P: I would do more prototypes! It is what I need the most time for.

E: Sadly, we have one more semester to go. What are your plans right after school?

P: Drink a bottle of wine by myself, sleep peacefully, have time with my friends and family in Colombia, travel to somewhere else, spend more time in Tinto Project, and probably get a job.

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