Ariel Newland firmly believes in play as a learning tool. "The best way to engage kids is to participate in their world of gaming and online interaction. Standard tests and textbooks have their place, but a game can really make subjects come to life," says the BFA Integrated Design graduate.
Newland's popular online game From Ellis Island to Orchard Street with Victoria Confino, designed for New York's Tenement Museum, bears this out. In the game, players take on the persona of a 12-year-old European immigrant going through the naturalization process at Ellis Island in the early 20th century. The project was Newland's senior thesis, but it doubled as her first professional assignment. "Partnering with the Tenement Museum was great, because they were a real client with real needs and educational goals," she says. While at Parsons, Newland started working at the experiential design firm ESI Design, where she creates interactive media and installations for people of all ages. She couldn't be happier. "I'm doing exactly what I dreamed of doing when I was studying at Parsons."