Kids want to be be a part of every step of the cooking process. However, measuring ingredients can be difficult for young children who have limited strength and motor skills. The goal of this project was to create a product that would make it easier for parents to bake with their children by reducing mess and mistakes. I worked on a team of design engineers to develop a product that made it easier for children to measure and dispense precise amounts of flour.
In order to develop a product that was useful to both parents and children, we performed a series of observations and surveys to narrow down the scope of our product.
We observed adults baking with children to identify what parts of the baking process were particularly difficult to manage. We noticed that children liked to participate in activities that were hands on like scooping and stirring. Scooping created the most mess because ingredients would easily fall out of the measuring cups. These observations helped scope our design goal to develop a product that would help children measure dry ingredients.
To help us ideate on the aesthetics of our product, we collected images of existing food products online that were designed for kids. We noted that they often had a whimsical appeal to them, with bright colors and rounded edges.
We went through four cycles of prototyping. Early foam core mockups displayed the mechanism by which flour could be measured and dispensed. Testing these mockups revealed that children most easily mapped the concept of quantity to a linear motion rather than dial or button. Our later prototypes focused on this linear motion to measure flour quantity.
Before iterating on our final product design, we needed to perform user and performance testing. Our user testing with children helped us identify our primary flour measuring mechanism. Our performance testing found that there was no significant difference between our product flour measurements and current methods of measuring flour.
We tested our prototypes at three children's cooking programs in the Boston area. While children found our product easy to use for measuring, it was difficult for them to move the product around the kitchen due to the weight of the flour. We decided that our final product would only be moved by an adult or kept in a stationary position on the counter as a storage container.
The three most common methods for measuring flour are dipping a cup in then scraping off excess, spooning flour into a cup then level off the excess, and sifting than measuring the sifted flour. Each of these techniques results in a different range of weights:
Our final product was a flour container and dispenser that made it easy for young children to measure out flour by moving a linear sliding lever. The product was collapsable so that it could fit on under cabinets on kitchen counters. While we noticed that children liked brighter colors, we choose a simple black and white design because adults would be displaying the product in their kitchen.