Gary Benenson

Are you Smarter than your “Smart” Phone?
New York, NY

Big Idea:
Bad design pervades our daily lives. We seek information from our gadgets, but receive double-talk instead; search in vain for appliance controls that were once obvious; give up in frustration rather than consult a manual or 800 number. Each of these problems is crying for redesign, which might be as simple as adding or changing a word. We design things constantly, but rarely think about design. Good design proceeds from analyzing failure, and by listening to users, who are the experts on dysfunctional products and systems. Inspiration can come from anywhere, especially children, who are often the worst victims of bad design, and the most creative designers. This presentation will feature examples of bad design, redesign, and design by children.

Gary Benenson is a professor of Mathematical Engineering at City College of New York. Prior to becoming an educator, he was an electronic design engineer.  He is Project Director of Physical Science Comes Alive, an NSF-funded effort to integrate engineering, math, science literacy and art in the elementary grades. Benenson is co-author of the five “Stuff that works!” curriculum guides that make use of artifacts and problems from children’s own environments.