Psychology Classes Get Creative for Kids

Posted on December 10th, 2010 by

A Gustavus student in the Developmental Psychology class in 2009 works with a child at the Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota (Photo by Stacia Vogel).

What do psychology classes at Gustavus Adolphus College and children playing have to do with one another? Students who have taken one of two classes from Assistant Professor of Psychology Kyle Chambers know the answer to that question.

Like so many other professors at Gustavus, Chambers has found a way to teach course material and have his students benefit the local community in the process.

In Chambers’ First Term Seminar titled “Toy Design,” students work in groups to make a significant improvement to a current toy on the market or develop a new toy.

Students spend a considerable amount of time doing research and field work, including interviewing parents and employees at retail stores like Target and Walmart to obtain feedback on what makes a good toy or a bad toy. Students also spend time thinking about things like product safety, child developmental milestones, and target ages for toys.

After they have developed an idea for a toy, students test out their ideas at the Creative Play Place – a free indoor play area in St. Peter for children ages birth to nine. At the end of the semester, students give final presentations to the class arguing for why their toy should be developed.

Kyle Chambers

Chambers also teaches a mid-level course in “Developmental Psychology” where students work with the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota (CMSM) to develop museum exhibits for children and their parents.

Exhibits developed by Gustavus students were on display when the CMSM opened its Play Lab on Nov. 20 in a building adjacent to the River Hills Mall in Mankato. The Play Lab is being used as a testing facility for exhibits that could one day be more extensively developed and used at a permanent long-term children’s museum in southern Minnesota.

The Play Lab is open on Wednesday’s from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and on Saturday’s from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information on the Toy Design First Term Seminar or Developmental Psychology courses at Gustavus, contact Chambers at 507-933-7063 or


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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