​Overview

The goal of team STEAMineer is to teach 21st Century Skills through game design by using maker-centered education. Through this goal, We hope to equip students with the skills necessary to adapt to a dynamic and variable future. 21st Century Skill includes teamwork, flexibility, creativity, and technical literacy.

Duration

10 weeks

My role

Leading Researcher; UX/UI Designer

​Process

Implementing Best Practices

Before the halves of the semester, we are focused on making prototypes while playtesting and evaluation. We are conducting weekly playtest at Assemble while conducting user research to gain a better understanding of our users. Then things changed unexpectedly when the quarantine happened. So we made adjustments to our strategy which focus more on the online playtest to guaranteed out final deliverable would be effective.

Context

Our partner is Assemble a Pittsburgh based kids after school education program.

We are partnering with the Assemble Makerspace where it facilitates after school workshops for learners of all ages. We’ve been consulting the Executive Director Nina Barbuto; We are going to collaborate with Anny Chen to co-develop a curriculum for a video game summer camp.

  • Assemble is a nonprofit organization located in Pittsburgh. They aim to change one’s disposition, encourages creativity, and removes barriers through STEAM disciplines, which are Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math.

  • Our team shares the same values with the Assemble, which are learning through making and collaboration. And encourage problem-solving by holding open-ended and hands-on activities.

Goal

How the final deliverable support the goal

Target Audience

Kids from 3rd to 5th grade.

Exploratory Research

Explored the STEAM education strategy by conducting field research and interviewed educators in organizations.

STEAM education was an area we were not familiar with at the beginning, so we started to research how other organizations provided the STEAM education. I collected some questions that my team may be curious about in the STEAM education field. After organized and prioritized those questions, we came up with several top-priority questions that required us to research.

  • What is the goal of Maker-Centered Learning?

  • What Metrics do you use to evaluate the success of maker-education?

  • How can Maker-Centered Learning be more effective?

  • What available products do you recommend or work with?

After the exploratory research, here are the takeaways for our next step:

  • More open-ended making experience;

  • Story-driven and highly engaging learning experience;

  • Use accessible physical material;

​Children‘s Museum

Assemble Maker Space

BIRDBRAIN

Concept development via prototyping

When physical input combines with electronic output, what magic will happen?

​After developing prototypes and conducting internal playtest, I decided to take an approach to teach kids collaboration through playing video games with Opened Ardunio inputs.

Evaluation Research via Playtesting

For each playtesting, we have to identify our goals and prepare the interview questions to make sure we can gather useful feedback for the next iteration.

Because we know little about children in this age group including their learning habits and needs. Online surveys and interviews may not be good choices for users in this age range. So we have to take the approach to understand the children through playtesting. Our concept is not directly determined after the research which towards the educators and STEAM educational Toolkits on the market. Our concept is constantly adjusted according to the feedback of playlets. Because during the process of playlets, things can not always develop in the direction we expected.

Before each playtest, I aligned the questions with our research purposes:

  • What is their capacity? -Kids capacity for making

  • How they feel facing the technology? -kids feeling towards the technology

  • How they will cooperate with others? -cooperation ability

  • Are they willing to communicate? -communication ability

  • Will they feel fun when they play the game? -gameplay experience

Strategy refine

Shift attention from making section to the whole learning experience.

Because of the shutdown rules, we were not allowed to conduct the playtest at Assemble Maker Space. The only thing we can do is online playtest which is hard for our physical part. So our team decided to shift our iteration strategy to overcome this situation. This change led our team became more thoughtful for our whole experience design.

For the online playtest, we developed a web-based game gain more playtest data of the game which shared the same feature with Ardunio game but controlled by the keyboard. We did several playtest with families and kids virtually through zoom. By delivering our stuff to the kids, I gained direct feedbacks from kids.

- User scenario change: Kids & Caregivers at home during the quarantine.

- Multiplayer or single player: depends on the age and capability of the kids.

- Pre-fabricated Arduino core: leave the room for kids to assemble and decorate controller.

- Target audience: Ideally ages 9-12, but open to 6-13 based on playtesting availability

remote playtest and iteration

Learning through making and playing.

John is an 11-years old boy participated in our last remote playtest, he showed a high interest in our game experience and offered a lot of positive feedbacks after playtest. Here are some recording videos of the remote playtest. With the guidance of his father, he was able to build up the controller and play by himself.

Final deliverable

Learning through making and playing.

The whole learning experience is divided into three parts. Kids can get familiar with the game when they use the keyboard and mouse to play the game; then kids feel free to explore the Arduino and sensor when making the controller. At last, kids can challenge themselves by play repeatedly while figuring the most effective controller construct way.

Improvement of learning experience

The importance of testing section.

Faced with new things, children always have a strong desire to explore. When they just get the Arduino sensor, they are eager to understand how the components work, how to interact, and the impact on the game. Therefore, we provided the test section as the opportunity to explore and try. Kids can assign different sensors with different functions, testing the usability of the controller in different combinations. Ideally, Kids can figure out the most efficient and easy-to-use sensor combination. During this process, the kids learned the STEAM knowledge and problem-solving ability.

Importance of storytelling

Create the motivation of making controller through storytelling.

In order to make the whole learning experience more engaging and interesting, I designed the game graphic and story. The story could be a meaningful motivation for kids to make their own controllers.

This is a story about the submarine caption and five magic sailors. The story background is about saving the under see city Atlantis.

Created some "WOW" moments by showing the character in the submarine during gameplay.

I designed the characters based on the characteristics of the sensors to keep the story coherent throughout the whole game experience.

Impact Measurement

Analyzed the data from the survey and online playtest to make

the data-driven design.

The only method to conduct quantitative analysis is gathering​ data through surveys and online playtest. By analyzing those data, our team is able to find the direction of iteration.

(Data from Unity Analytics)

(Data from online playtest survey)

© 2020 by Gloria Deng.