Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Peter Taylor

Second Advisor

Nina Greenwald


In this synthesis I describe a "Children's Realm" in which middle school children can safely explore and interact with a variety of physical phenomena typically reserved for the adult world, such as building and driving a car. A Children's Realm is an experiment. It is an attempt to not only design, but engineer a unique environment for middle school students to explore and learn. It is based on providing the complex tools I feel children need to do this kind of learning on their own. These complex tools I call Life-Sized Manipulatives or simply LSM. I highlight the importance of LSM in a Children's Realm and how the goals of the Children's Realm depend on them. This paper is a work in progress that represents observations that began when I was a child trying to learn but failing to learn. It continues through a process of learning from failing to teach, and collaborating with the faculty and colleagues of the Critical and Creative Thinking Program at University of Massachusetts-Boston. I show that my ideas are well conceived by connecting them to the works of others before me. To do this I make connections between the Children's Realm and Adventure Playgrounds, The works of John Dewey, research done in peer to peer relationships, and highlight some of the key features of problem-solving pedagogies. I make these connections as powerfully as I can in order to convince others and hopefully secure funding to continue collaborating with others and further this research.