Kidsteam: Children and Adults Working as Design Partners

Making technology for kids without working directly with them, “is like making clothes for someone you don’t know the size of.” – Thomas, Kidsteam Child Design Partner Alumni


The child and adult members of Kidsteam meet twice a week at the University of Maryland’s Human-Computer Interaction Lab to co-design technologies that support children’s learning and play. Kidsteam research enhances our understanding of intergenerational design techniques and of how to build technologies that are more relevant to children’s interests and needs.

Kidsteam and The Cooperative Inquiry Method

In 1998, Dr. Allison Druin adapted the Cooperative Inquiry method of design for use with children and established Kidsteam. The Kidsteam Cooperative Inquiry design team asks for a long-term partnership between its adult and child team members and offers a set of techniques that foster intergenerational communication and provide actionable design feedback. This feedback can be used in all stages of development, from early brainstorming to late-stage testing, and across technology platforms. Over the past two decades, design teams in universities and corporations around the world have employed the Cooperative Inquiry method.

The University of Maryland’s Kidsteam is the first intergenerational Cooperative Inquiry design team. Kidsteam brings together ~8 children, ages 7-11, with researchers and technologists with diverse backgrounds to design technologies for children twice a week throughout the academic year. Because of their long tenure, Kidsteam kids are experts in more than being kids: they are experts in collaborating with adults and other kids, in prototyping techniques, and in communicating their ideas and the importance of their ideas.

Interested in Joining or Working with Kidsteam?

Contact Beth Bonsignore, Director of Kidsteam, at for more information. Join Kidsteam as one of our adult design partners, an industry or non-profit partner, or as a visiting scholar to learn the Cooperative Inquiry method of design.


Program Highlights


Kidsteam at the Lincoln Memorial. Kidsteam was invited to help the National Park Service co-design the future of the Lincoln Memorial’s visitor experience. The team worked with 37 other adults from places such as the Pentagon, Sesame Workshop, Yahoo, Ford’s Theatre, AARP, and various parts of the National Park Service to envision the future of this iconic monument.


Kidsteam at the White House. Kidsteam visited the White House to prototype the online Every Kid in a Park experience with local 4th graders, members of the Department of the Interior, and of the National Park Service. The Every Kid in a Park initiative provides 4th graders and their families with a free annual pass to visit America’s natural wonders and historic sites.


Emmy-Winning Interactions. Nickelodeon won the 2013 Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement In Interactive Media – User Experience And Visual Design for their Nick App, which features the “Do Not Touch” button that was developed with Kidsteam. The button was recognized for its, “array of disruptive comedy and surprises.”