Wonder, curiosity, exploration—all spot-on descriptors of a child on the verge of forming an opinion of the world. Yet these are the things that designer Christina Kazakia thinks kids are missing out on, thanks to technologies that keep us inside and constantly distracted. "There's less opportunity to learn more about yourself and the natural world that surrounds you," she says. "Lack of curiosity, lack of risk-taking, lack of wonder, lack of imagination. The outdoors is a wonderful stimulation and provides all of these things while giving children a sense of independence." Her solution? A new toy called Stick-Lets.
Stick-Lets aren't a "tear open the packaging, turn on, tune out" kind of toy. Their function is simple: In order to use the system, kids have to scavenge a group of sticks to use the connectors with, the end result being a fort of some shape or form. The silicone connectors come in different sizes and can be stretched to fit larger sticks and other materials. And, of course, they come in a number of child-attracting colors with equally amusing names: Pardon My Purple, Huckleberry Blue, Birch Bark White, Grasshopper Green, Starfish Red and Kazakia's favorite, Monarch Orange. Kazakia has been working on the idea since it was conceived in her graduate studies at Rhode Island School of Design, but now she's taken to the crowdfunding world to help bring kids a dose of fresh air and creative inspiration. Why? The project's tagline says it all: "Because nature misses us."