Philadelphia entrepreneur gives urban nature play a new twist

     A child uses Stick-lets to build an outdoor structure. (Photo courtesy of Christina Kazakia)

    A child uses Stick-lets to build an outdoor structure. (Photo courtesy of Christina Kazakia)

    While out to dinner one night, Rhode Island School of Design grad student Christina Kazakia recounted favorite childhood memories with her friends. The common theme among those memories? Outdoor play.

    For her thesis project, Kazakia focused her research on outdoor play. She eventually honed in on the ways children play with fallen sticks. Sticks could provided open-ended opportunities for both imaginative and construction play.

    Building on that concept, Kazakia wanted to find ways to bridge outdoor and imaginative play with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) concepts. Since many adults she spoke with fondly recalled fort building and similar play, the now Philadelphia-resident wanted to encourage more of this type of play, particularly for children in urban areas.

    An idea is born

    Against this backdrop, Kazakia designed and created Stick-lets. Stick-lets are flexible silicone bands that allow children to quickly build structures in a variety of environments. Stick-lets are simple connectors that encourage outdoor structure-building, problem-solving, imaginative play, and collaboration.

    Stick-lets can fit into a bag or even a jacket pocket, so they are exceedingly portable. They can be used to bundle sticks or bamboo together, and they can even be used to attach structures to chain-link fences. They come in six different weather-resistant, reusable shapes that allow for folding and twisting into many different positions.

    Kazakia envisioned Stick-lets for creating little hideouts and sanctuaries for kids, “There are not many urban parks and playspaces that allow for self-made hideouts. I recall this activity being such a rewarding experience for me as a child growing up with woods in my backyard.”

    Expanding

    Kazakia has held events and exhibits around the city and region to test and showcase her unique invention.

    She’s held play sessions at the Schuylkill River Park, Smith Memorial Playhouse, Benjamin Franklin High School, and The Schuylkill Nature Center.

    Although she’s already sold 10,000 Stick-lets, Kazakia is currently launching a Kickstarter campaign for the final production mold, and hopes to raise $36,000 by June 17. 

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