It depends what the planned use is and the target market demographic is, to what is best, after-all, what will appeal to boys and girls at 4-6 years old will be a lot different to 10 and 15 year olds. I guess look at the range of popular cartoons and characters most of which appeal to certain genders, age groups and cultures.
The universal icons, are harder to create and you could probably spend years working on ones and they still not be liked. My guess something like Stitch, little cuteness appeals with a bit of wild edge and destruction…
Also remember if you want it to get to schools, then it is different again (since the appealing destructive side of Stitch is not going to be appreciated). Not many icons for education last though since they have to be on-message too much, without the just fun side, and usually end up lame to the kids they are trying to reach.
Anyway, that"s a huge psychological debate which is solved better by simply asking some kids instead!
The school outfit is a good idea (the child can identify with her), but also the R-Pi dress is also good (appeals to the girly girl, like a princess etc) so hard to decide. To appeal to the boys, she could always have an older brother, so that the idea of sharing ideas, working together can also be introduced, and can provide a gender for both to identify with (depending on the child, some girls may prefer the brother etc). He could even be the one teaching her about her R-Pi perhaps, nice excuse for explaining it to her.
The holding up the doll image caught my eye…the concept of ownership, development, being a parent and teaching the r-pi to do basic things could be interesting. For balance of gender or for wider appeal it could be a baby, little dragon, fairy, imp or monster (perhaps robot, but in some ways a living entity helps the imagination – also conversely you expect robots to know what you want them to do, creatures need things clearly told to them).
Taking this further (as an idea), the R-Pi could then be the childs own creation, living within the computer, able to perform and react as you teach it in the virtual world. I"m keen to encourage the use of additional hardware too, since this blurs the virtual and real world and opens up the child to controlling and reacting to their environment (this is one aspect I think the R-Pi can re-gain some ground on verses a console or mobile phone). Making their R-Pi creature able to move motors and switch LEDs through the hardware interfaces, turns adding a dumb switch or a bunch of flashy LEDs to perhaps creating a face to show it"s feelings, a trap for invading forces to be blasted by laser blasters or ways to interact and play games with directly.
As far as the education side goes, try not to get tied up in that too much (the R-Pi isn"t ready for that yet anyway, I imagine by that point things may look quite different). Adventures, stories and interesting characters are probably more important at the moment. The fun side of the R-Pi is worth introducing and it"ll be a good place to start building up your concepts without pushing any messages, if nothing else a few fun stories will encourage interest and perhaps plant a seed of imagination.
Just thoughts and ideas.
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