Participants of the Department of Play Summer Institute 2010

From the Department of Play

Leo Burd
Leo is a researcher with the MIT Center for Future Civic Media, where he develops novel technologies and approaches for social empowerment and local civic engagement. He is particularly interested in the creation of map-, web-, and telephone-based tools to help children explore their neighborhoods, organize local community events, and become active participants in the places where they live.

Ben Mattocks
Ben Mattocks is a junior at MIT pursuing a degree in computer science. In the Department of Play, he has expanded the Cartagen mapping framework to develop a mapping tool which will enable children to effectively share information about their neighborhoods. He has implemented ways to save different types of data, such as point landmarks, paths, polygons, images, and audio recordings.

Aditi Mehta
Aditi just completed her Masters in City Planning at MIT this June, and holds a B.S. from Cornell University in Urban Studies. While at MIT, Aditi focused much of her research and work on improving civic participation in marginalized communities. As a NOLA Fellow from 2009-2010, Aditi worked for a non-profit in New Orleans dedicated to revitalizing a commercial corridor through community and economic development. In NOLA, she organized a digital story-telling project with business owners on the street. Before graduate school, Aditi was an Assistant Project Manager at Telesis Corporation, a mission-driven affordable housing developer and she also worked as a consultant in Mumbai, India researching non-profit capacity in slum redevelopment in Mumbai for an NGO. Aditi enjoys photography, and as an Humanity in Action Fellow, she facilitated a photography program for at-risk youth in Baltimore in 2007.

Madeline Mirzoeff
Maddie is a rising junior at MIT. She is majoring in Computer Science and Mathematics. This summer, she is a researching under Leo Burd in the Department of Play. The majority of her time has been spent making a web-based audio recorder and player that will immediately upload a recording, without first saving it in another file.

Nitin Sawhney
Nitin Sawhney is a lecturer and research affiliate with the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology. Nitin's ongoing research, teaching and practice engages the critical role of the arts and technology interventions in contested spaces and conditions of conflict and crisis. His current work focuses on urban renewal, cultural identity and socio-political empowerment through media arts in divided cities, as well as participatory media, digital storytelling and community mapping with marginalized youth in transitional territories. His work has been regularly presented at various international conferences, film festivals, and exhibitions. He received his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees from MIT, as well as M.S. and B.E. degrees from Georgia Tech. In 2008-2009, Nitin served as a Visionary Fellow with the Jerusalem 2050 project (for his proposal on Media Barrios) sponsored by the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the Center for International Studies at MIT, conducting research on media arts intervention in divided cities including Jerusalem, Belfast and Berlin. Since 2006 Nitin co-founded Voices Beyond Walls, a participatory media initiative, to conduct digital video and storytelling workshops with children and youth in Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza. Nitin recently completed the Re-imagining Gaza program of youth media workshops in the Jabaliya refugee camp in July 2010.

Jeff Warren
The creator of, Jeff designs mapping tools, visual programming environments, and flies kites as a fellow in the Center for Future Civic Media, and as a student at the MIT Media Lab’s Design Ecology group, where he created the vector-mapping framework Cartagen. He co-founded Vestal Design, a graphic/interaction design firm in 2004, and directed the Cut&Paste Labs project, a year-long series of workshops on opensource tools and web design in 2006-7 with Lima designer Diego Rotalde. He is a co-founder of Portland-based Jeff holds a B.A. in Architecture from Yale University and spent much of that time (and the following years) working with artist/technologist Natalie Jeremijenko, building robotic dogs and so forth. To find out more, visit

From the Media Lab

Chris Csikszentmihalyi
Chris Csikszentmihályi directs the Media Lab's Computing Culture group, which works to create unique media technologies for cultural applications. He also directs the MIT Center for Future Civic Media, which develops new technologies and techniques to strengthen geographic communities. He has worked in the intersection of new technologies, media, and the arts for 13 years, lecturing, showing new media work, and presenting installations in both Europe and North America. He is a 2005 Rockefeller New Media Fellow, and recently finished a solo exhibition at the Location One Gallery in New York's Soho. Csikszentmihályi has taught at the University of California at San Diego, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and at Turku University. He toured museums and nightclubs with his mechanical hip hop device, DJ I, Robot, which was nominated for the Best Artistic Software award at Berlin's Transmediale, while a previous piece, Natural Language Processor, was commissioned by the KIASMA Museum in Helsinki, Finland. The catalog for his installations Skin and Control is published by Charta and distributed by DAP, and he served on the National Academy of Science's IT and Creativity panel. Csikszentmihályi received an MFA from the University of California at San Diego, and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Csikszentmihályi is currently David and Roberta Loge Fellow at Harvard's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Rich Fletcher
Dr. Rich Fletcher is currently a research scientist at the MIT Media Lab working in the area of wireless sensors for physiological monitoring, mobile health, and environmental sensing. Research includes development of new types of electromagnetic and optical sensors as well as integration with mobile phones. After graduating from MIT, Dr. Fletcher founded several companies, including United Villages and First-Mile Solutions, which provide Internet services to rural areas in developing countries. With family roots in Colombia, South America, Dr. Fletcher has also devoted much of his life to developing appropriate technologies for developing countries and was co-founder of two related courses at MIT (D-Lab Mobile ICT and NextLab) that provide students opportunities to design and deploy projects around the world.

Mitchell Resnick
Mitchel Resnick, LEGO Professor of Learning Research and head of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Laboratory, explores how new technologies can engage people in creative learning experiences. Resnick's research group developed the "programmable brick" technology that inspired the LEGO MindStorms robotics kit. He co-founded the Computer Clubhouse project, a worldwide network of after-school centers where youth from low-income communities learn to express themselves creatively with new technologies. Recently, Resnick's group developed Scratch, an online community where children program and share interactive stories, games, and animations. Resnick earned a BA in physics at Princeton University (1978), and MS and PhD degrees in computer science at MIT (1988, 1992). He worked as a science-technology journalist from 1978 to 1983, and he has consulted throughout the world on creative uses of computers in education. He is author of "Turtles, Termites, and Traffic Jams" (1994), co-editor of "Constructionism in Practice" (1996), and co-author of "Adventures in Modeling" (2001).

From Partner Organizations

Joseph Agoada, UNICEF Innovations
Joseph is a grassroots innovator with a Bachelor in Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His passion is to bring diverse people together for sustainable community development and cultural sharing. His career path was inspired by a study abroad program at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, studying the relationship between HIV/AIDS and gender. In 2008-2009, he worked within the MIT International Development Initiative, acting as course administrator for Amy Smith's D-Lab and coordinated the 2009 International Development Design Summit in Kumasi Ghana. Most recently, he coordinated World Cup in My Village, a pilot UNICEF initiative which brought social messaging, media training and the 2010 World Cup to vulnerable youth in remote rural areas of Zambia and Rwanda.

Khairani Barokka, UNICEF Innovations
Khairani Barokka (Okka) is an intern at UNICEF Innovation, working on a framework for Child-Friendly Technology. She is a graduate student at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, in the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), where she is learning about media arts and social innovations, and hopes to combine the two. She has worked for the UN, BBC News, and InWEnt in Indonesia. She is also one of the producers of the Global Lives Project (, which shoots and exhibits documentary films around the world. She has a fear of canteloupes.

Gerrit Beger, Chief, Youth Section, UNICEF Innovations
Gerrit is a German national holding an M.A. in communication science and political studies from the University of Leipzig. He has over ten years experience of working as a communications and advocacy professional in different environments, including the NGO/IGO sector, as well as corporate firms and agencies. His professional experience has helped to develop and fine-tune his skills as a manager, effective communicator, and strategic thinker. He has been working with UNICEF for the last eight years with postings in Nigeria, India, and the UNICEF HQ in New York. He is currently leading an innovations team in UNICEF using new technologies to engage young people in social change and to build a new generation of UNICEF supporters.

Raquel Chebabi
Raquel is a researcher at State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in Brazil. Her project, Learning City, focuses on establishing an organizational structure of the community of a small city in São Paulo that is a Digital City by identifying their skills and needs, discovering talents, and using the available technology to promote social cohesion and personal, cultural, social and economic development. She is interested in new information and communication technologies as a means to provide collaborative works and social inclusion, especially for young people. She has a B.S. in Systems Analysis from Pontific Catholic University of Campinas (PUCCAMP),an M.S. in Computer Science from State University of Campinas (UNICAMP). She is currently a PhD student in Arts Institute of State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) and a visiting student at MIT Center for Future Civic Media.

Roger Hart, Co-Director, CUNY Children's Environments Research Group (CERG)
Roger Hart is a Professor in the Environmental Psychology Ph.D Program of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is also the Co-Director of the Children's Environments Research Group. Hart's research focuses on understanding the everyday lives of children and youth and, to this end, he has designed many participatory methodologies for working with young people. He has collaborated with others in the application of theory and research to the planning and design of children's environments and environmental education. In recent years, his work has been more broadly concerned with finding ways to foster the greater participation of disadvantaged children in articulating their concerns and perspectives as a way of fulfilling their rights. To this end, he has collaborated in numerous countries with international non-government agencies. With UNICEF he has written two books on children’s participation and co-authored “Cities for Children: Children’s Rights, Poverty and Urban Management”. With the Save the Children Alliance he has written “The Children’s Clubs of Nepal: A Democratic Experiment” and the video “Mirrors of Ourselves: Tools of Democratic Self Reflection for Groups of Children and Youth.”

Ravi Karkara, Specialist, Child & Adolescent Participation, UNICEF
As a human rights advocate, Ravi has over fifteen years of international work experience. He has proactively developed and demonstrated competencies that advance human rights through achievement of results for/with girls, boys and women worldwide. His core competencies include team work, leadership, strategic thinking, innovation, management, financial management, fund raising, advising, advocacy, capacity development, coaching, communication and partnership development. He has progressively worked with UN agencies, Civil Society Organisations, corporate sector CSR initiatives and academia. He has wide experience in working in and management of multicultural, multilingual teams and promotion of diversity and equal opportunities. He has demonstrated experience and expertise in leading innovative and zero-start projects. He has worked on project assignments in many Least Developed, Developing and Industrialised countries across the world ranging from Japan, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Egypt, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, UK, USA and Brazil for furthering children and women rights. He has extensively contributed to high level projects such as High Level Ministerial Consultations, contributing to the UN General Assembly mechanisms, EU, AU and consultations between of youth and the G8 Leader and Leaders of brick countries etc. He has extensive experience in knowledge creation and management targeting global audience. The guiding Forces for his work on Focusing on Social Transformation through Social Justice, Human Rights Approach, Respect for Diversity and Equality, Ensuring Inclusion, Accountability and Participation

Geetha Narayanan, Principal Investigator of the Project Vision Design and Research Collective (, at the Centre for Education, Research, Training and Development, Srishti School of Art Design and Technology Bangalore (
An educational entrepreneur, research scholar and teacher, Geetha’s work traverses terrains as different and diverse as design, telematics, pedagogy and social change. Her current work and research interest lies at the intersection of technology, learning and transformation – both personal and social.

Gil G. Noam, Founder and Director of the Program in Education, Afterschool & Resiliency (PEAR) and an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital. Trained as a clinical and developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst in both Europe and the United States, Dr. Noam has a strong interest in supporting resilience in youth, especially in educational settings. He served as the director of the Risk and Prevention program, and is the founder of the RALLY Prevention Program, a Boston-based intervention that bridges social and academic support in school, afterschool, and community settings. Dr. Noam has published over 200 papers, articles, and books in the areas of child and adolescent development as well as risk and resiliency in clinical, school and afterschool settings. He has become the editor-in-chief of the journal New Directions in Youth Development: Theory, Practice and Research, which has a strong focus on out-of-school time.

Linda Raftree, Social Media and New Technology Advisor, Plan West Africa at Plan International
Linda Raftree is the Social Media and New Technology Advisor for Plan International’s West Africa Region. She supports capacity building for strategic integration of ICTs into Plan’s community development work. Linda coordinates a program in 7 countries in Africa where arts, media and technology are used as tools for helping youth develop their own agendas for local development and to effectively communicate with decision makers at local, national and global levels. She is also supporting a pilot program whereby children, youth, communities, and government agencies use SMS and digital mapping to crowdsource reports of violence against children, coordinate local responses, and advocate for improved prevention and services. Linda also contributes to Plan globally in the area of ICT4D. Linda is the former Director for Youth Engagement at Plan USA, and former Director for Major and Planned Giving there as well. Prior to Plan USA, Linda worked on violence prevention, disaster relief and response, child rights and child media programs with Plan in El Salvador. Before joining Plan she worked at the Lutheran World Federation's Department for World Service and Oxfam Great Britain on programs supporting local organizations to advocate around implementation of the Peace Accords in El Salvador. (

Pamela Wridt, Co-Director, CUNY Children's Environments Research Group (CERG)
Dr. Wridt joined CERG as co-director after spending five years serving as Associate Chair and Senior Instructor in the Department of Planning & Design at the University of Colorado, Denver. Dr. Wridt holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Geography Education and a PhD in Environmental Psychology from the Graduate Center of CUNY. Pamela's teaching and research interests include children's participation, children's geographies, child friendly cities, community mapping, participatory GIS, geography teacher education, active living, urban planning, and community development. Recent publications by Dr. Wridt include an educational website on community mapping with children at and a publication in Environment and Planning at Forum - Nepali ForumNepali Community - Nepali CommunityNepali News - Nepali NewsNepali Politics - Nepali PoliticsNepali Discussions - Nepali Discussions