Koko the Koala

Problem statement: How can we educate customers about where their food comes from and how it was produced through the design of the GRIT grocery food truck?

Members: Greg Allison, Raymond Cano, Connie Shen, Lily Wen, Fernando Lejarza

Community Partners: Avance, Skillart, ArtSkills, Children’s Museum of Houston, Rice Kinder Instititute for Urban Research, Early Matters

Time: Fall 2014 – Spring 2016


Early childhood literacy is one of the fundamental building blocks to success in education and beyond. If a child is not reading at grade level in third grade, they are four times more likely to drop out of high school.[1] Low-income children in particular face more obstacles to learning how to read than children of affluence. A large part of this is due to a lack of parent-child interaction—a study titled “The Early Catastrophe” conducted by Betty Hart & Todd R. Risley, found that children in low-income households are exposed to 30 million fewer words than children in middle and upper class homes.[2] The root of the issue for early childhood literacy in low-income households is a lack of resources, time, and parent interaction.


Our team is focusing on helping low-income students recognize the letters of the alphabet, as this is the first step toward literacy. The solution centers around labeling objects in the house with its first letter. We have designed a poster to encourage the child to check off all the objects in the house. The parent is encouraged to help the child label the items, and routinely remind them of the letter that labels it. Our solution is low-cost and does not require a lot of time commitment from the parent, but fosters multiple interactions between the parent and child throughout the day.

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