Urban Thinkscape adds onto everyday objects, embellishes or alters old streetscape designs and presents new designs that get families, moving, thinking, and talking about language, literacy and STEM – all while preserving the joy of learning!

Urban Thinkscape forges one of the first collaborations between architectural design and psychological science.

Urban Thinkscape meets individuals and families where they live by embedding playful learning into the activities of daily life.


Urban Thinkscape brings the benefits of playful learning, which combines the enjoyable nature of play with a learning goal, to a community setting. Examples include puzzles at bus stops that stimulate spatial skills; movable parts on park benches that become opportunities for exploring language, color, and numbers while on-site signage and this website connect families to additional information and resources about the links between play and learning.

Instead of viewing streets and bus stops merely as conduits from point A to B, Urban Thinkscape creates connections between these shared everyday spaces and the people who occupy them.



The back wall of a bus stop challenges waiting passengers to complete the puzzle. Puzzles promote kids’ math and spatial skills, which help them succeed in school and life! Parents and kids can work together to solve the puzzles.


Shoe prints encourage kids to jump, while the pattern develops their ability to control impulses by disrupting the pattern and making them think about their next step! These skills are related to academic achievement. Parents can encourage kids to switch up the pattern–maybe they can try one foot where they see two and two where they see one!


Kids’ curiosity is activated by searching in the metalwork for images of food, animals, and any other objects they can find! Building this kind of curiosity helps kids become strong problem solvers. Kids can also develop spatial skills by figuring out how the images are projected into the ground. Parents can help kids search out the images and work together to find them all.


Kids move from one narrative cue to another to create their own story. This activity helps develop narrative skills, which build reading skills. With younger kids, parents can ask them to identify the objects in the pictures. For example, is this a sun or a moon?


Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D., is the Stanley and Debra Lefkowitz Faculty Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Temple University and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Her research examines the development of early language and literacy as well as the role of play in learning. She is author of 13 books and hundreds of publications. She is the recipient of the American Psychological Association’s Bronfenbrenner Award, the American Psychological Association’s Award for Distinguished Service to Psychological Science, the Association for Psychological Science James McKeen Cattell Award and the APA Distinguished Lecturer Award. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society, is the President Elect of the International Congress on Infant Studies and served as the Associate Editor of Child Development. Dr. Hirsh-Pasek has a strong interest in bridging the gap between research and application. To that end, she served as an investigator on the NICHD Study of Early Child Care, is on the Advisory Board of Jumpstart and Disney. She has also been a spokesperson on early development for national magazines, newspapers, radio, and television.

Bettye Ferguson is the Founder and CEO of the Belmont Alliance Civic Association, CDC. BACA is the main community partner involved with the development and support of Urban Thinkscape. She also administers the Infant/Toddler and Adult Diaper and Clothes Bank as a part of BACA. She is also a member of the Democratic Executive Committee representing the 6th Ward, 11 Division in the City and County of Philadelphia. A dedicated advocate for the Belmont neighborhood, Ms. Ferguson has been instrumental in developing relationships with residents, block captains, city and government leaders, and universities in order to support the growth and success of Belmont.

Itai Palti is the Architectural Consultant for Urban Thinkscape and is designing the playful learning installations and environment. He is a practicing architect, researcher, and educator, focusing on designing with the human experience in mind. He is the founder of the Conscious Cities field of research and practice which integrates behavioural science into design to make it predictive and responsive to its user’s needs.  Practicing internationally, he has worked alongside the late world-renowned architect Jan Kaplicky on large projects such as the Ferrari Museum in Modena. Itai is a recipient of the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture’s HAY Grant Award for his ongoing work in collaboration with leading figures in the brain sciences. He is a fellow at The Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health, has edited its inaugural journal, and also contributed to a number of international publications such as The Guardian. Itai is an adjunct faculty member at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and a visiting critic at other academic institutions.

Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Ph.D., is the Chief Consultant for Urban Thinkscape. She holds the H. Rodney Sharp Chair in the School of Education at the University of Delaware and is also a member of the Departments of Psychology and Linguistics. An author of twelve books and numerous professional articles, she founded and directs the Child’s Play, Learning and Development Lab, whose goal it is to understand how children tackle the amazing feat of learning language and developing spatial skills. The recipient of a prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and a James McKeen Cattell Sabbatical award, she is frequently quoted in newspapers and magazines and has appeared on Good Morning America and many regional morning shows. Dr. Golinkoff also speaks at conferences around the world about children’s development.

Brenna Hassinger-Das, Ph.D., is  the lead scientist charged with running of the project. She is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Pace University. Dr. Hassinger-Das has a background in both education and psychology research and brings expertise in research targeting educational content. She also brings extensive experience in research and intervention with low-income families and with children in Head Start settings. She is committed to translating her research for use by the public through community-based research projects as well as blog posts and commentaries featured in outlets such as The Huffington Post, WHYY, and as well as additional outlets.