To support Lenovo’s work of encouraging more diversity among the students considering STEAM careers, Lenovo partnered with SCAD to create an educational experience targeted towards young children to inspire them to pursue STEAM. Our personal goal is to spark their interest in related career paths, with the hope that it will encourage greater diversity in the industry.


Project Manager


Team of 20, consisting of UX, Industrial and Game Design


10 weeks

The Problem Space

How can we create a device to spike every child’s interest in STEAM and build skills through a fun, educational, interactive physical experience, no matter their background?

Our Solution

An educational toy targeted to introduce children into STEAM through play. Using a combination of an interactive tray and smart blocks, children's imagination are turned into a reality through an digital experience

Introducing, Lenovo Play

While appearing simple like any other block set, each block can radically change and morph into a multitude of different things on their computer screen or through an AR set. This allows for dynamic learning that constantly shifts depending on what the child is creating. The blocks could resemble wood and steel for them to construct a bridge for a car to pass over. Or maybe they arve pieces of a rocketship they create themselves that can launch into space through trial and error of design. Even pieces of a computer that they build to see come to life before their eyes.

Play in so many ways

Lenovo Play is a system of different physical and digital inputs all working together to create an enriching experience for any and every child. PlayScreen offers visual output to the different combined PlayBlocks placed upon the PlayTray. Together they are the foundation to a multitude of experiences and discovery.

Building blocks, but cooler

Children will use the blocks for construction and simulation based on the narratives and the games.

The embedded sensors inside the blocks will connect them to the tray to start the learning journey with the software. There will be an AR overlay on the blocks with live display that corresponds to the activities within the software. Children will be able to connect the blocks with ½ inches magnet balls, that allows the blocks to have full mobility and hence, would satisfy children’s imagination. Each surface of the blocks is also magnetic making it easily to construct with different shape and provide stability.

The foundation to imagination

The tray is a physical area to build on top of to be able to see your creations come to life!

The tray gives you a beautiful pulse of light as confirmation that it is reading the blocks. Using a soft alcantara exterior, it is inviting; you want to hold it or place it on your lap. Located on the underside of the tray, there is a pull away screen you can use freely to view your building blocks for different games and activities! It uses Augmented Reality to turn your creations into something magical.

A portal into a new world

The idea behind the screen is to have a supplemental option for the kids to view the environment in.

We decided to make the AR goggles optional, and we don’t want to assume that the user already has a screen of some form, so we included a moveable screen. The screen magnetizes into the bottom of the tray, allowing the user to simply pull the screen out, and use it as needed. The screen has tactile leather tabs on each edge, for ease of use.

Learning through fun

When creating the digital experience, we wanted to make sure the Learner was not only engaged but actively invested in the learning process.

To help make this happen, we created an intertwined narrative to guide the Learner and add a dash of personality to the experience. This narrative took the form of the player-built hub world that grew in size and complexity as the Learner spent more time and completed more complex activities with the Play system. Additionally, the ability of the Learner to build their city hub out of custom made buildings, structures, and other elements was created to give the Learner the freedom to express themselves and their personality through their own style.

Adults get to be part of the fun too

The companion app is designed to help parents and teachers engage with their learners and understand the value that Lenovo Play brings to their education.

For Teachers: Teachers can find and assign activities from the game catalogue and view each student’s progress to easily identify which students need more assistance. Teachers can also push messages to their learners’ apps which the parents/guardians can also view.

For Parents/Guardians: Parents and guardians can view what activities their children are doing, how they are doing with these activities and how they benefit their learning in and outside of the classroom. They can also receive messages from teachers about alerts or updates on the learner’s progress.

Our Process

Tap the button below to download our process book with an in-depth view on our research and how we landed on our final designs & features.

Other projects: 
Nicolas Pellegrino