Student Profile
Student Profile: Hayes Raffle

Oakland, CA

PhD candidate in Media Arts and Sciences
MS in Media Arts & Sciences, MIT 2004
BA in Fine Arts (Sculpture), Yale College 1996

Interest Area

Interactive children’s toys and new ways to integrate physical materials and computation.

Thesis Topic

By embedding computation and memory into familiar toys, children can play with ideas that used to be considered too complex for them. Topobo is a building toy with kinetic memory, the ability to record and playback physical motion. For instance, a child can snap Topobo parts together to make a dog, and then twist the dog's body in his hands to teach it how to walk. When he puts down the dog, it will walk on its own. The same way children learn how buildings stand by playing with blocks, they can learn how animals walk by playing with Topobo.

Career Ambition

I'd like to change the way children play and learn with technology. Playful learning should build on children's creativity, love for physical activity and rich memories of sensorial experiences. It should make children aware of patterns and processes found in the natural environment.

Why MIT?

There are very few places an artist can pursue original creative work that is technically sophisticated and requires a lot of engineering knowledge and support. The Media Lab is one of the best environments to do it.


My grandfather taught me: If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.