Growing up in northern New Jersey, Christina Kazakia, 29, explored the woods behind her house with her best friend. "I remember climbing trees and being scared at times, and that it was always thrilling," she says. When her graduate thesis adviser at the Rhode Island School of Design told her to pick something she's passionate about, she immediately thought of play and nature. "Everyone's so plugged in now, including me," she says. The industrial designer wanted to create a product that incites kids to appreciate nature's beauty and utility.

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