Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Concept: Third Draft

This is a simplified model of the first draft, the permutations and combinations of which allow children to animate characters, perform actions, modify them. and therefore explore the mathematics involved.


People, Animals (Characters)
The player starts with choosing a person/animal/both. Each cube has 5 working sides, each representing a different person/animal.

Actions (For characters)
These can be used to give the character properties- Eg. Jump, Run, Dance etc.

Modifiers (For actions)
These are tools that are applied to actions, to increase/decrease the rate/time etc mathematically.

Comparisons (For characters)
These are tools that can be used to compare sizes/weights of different characters.



Pick your character/s:
Start by picking a person or/and animal.
Character properties: Name, Age, Weight and Height, Description.

Compare the size/weight/height of characters. You can see these comparisons in different representations, eg. percentages, fractions, etc. therefore learning about the relationship between different mathematical tools.

Animate your character by using the ‘Action’ block. When the action is placed next to the character, the character is performs the corresponding action. If the action block is placed BETWEEN two characters, both characters perform the same action (Diagram 2). If it is placed near one, only that one is performs the action (Diagram 3).

Modify your actions by adding the ‘Modifier’ block. Watch your character perform the action at a faster/slower rate, calculate the time taken, the distance traversed etc.

Characterization and Humour

Make your own problem:
Make a man run, check the distance covered.
Then make a mouse run at the same speed, and check the distance covered. What is the difference? Why? Then double the speed of the mouse and see the difference. Try the same with an elephant.

Humourous situations:
Make a man jump, add a mouse to the scene, and then double the speed of the man!
Then make the man run away from the mouse, and draw the mouse running at triple the speed of the man!

Make a baby dance, in slow motion. Then make him squat, and increase the speed. Then try making the horse dance with the baby!

Monday, August 30, 2010


Figuring out the system and interactions:
To make it easier to understand how the model works, I started exploring the permutations and combinations with building blocks. I realized that the system is still quite complicated, and including different scenarios and situations which interact with each other would be too difficult to interact with, as well as program.

Meeting with Victor:
Adding stories within the tool is not necessary- Let the child explore and play with the options and create their own narrative.
In the current system, there are fixed options within the scenario, which diverts from the main focus of “mathematics”-Too complex (to understand, interact with, and program)
SIMPLIFY- There can be many options with just 3-4 blocks, and is easier for a child to understand/play with.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Concept: Second Draft

Loopholes in the first draft:
After speaking to some people about my earlier concept, I realized that it was a little clinical in its approach- Unless a child was motivated enough, with a high interest in mathematics, he wouldn't want to explore the possibilites of the blocks. I needed to make the interface more user friendly and fun- something that a child would be interested in playing with, and therefore engaging with mathematics. This version focusses more on situations, characters and storytelling, still maintaining the interactivity and exploratory aspect of the earlier version.

Rethinking the concept:

Making an interactive mathematical narrative; building your own story with the help of scenarios. All interactions and scenarios focus on the application of math in everyday situations.

There are four types of building blocks- You (Character), Travel, People (This includes 3 blocks of real world people and scenarios that can be interacted with) and Places (3 blocks of places where children can learn about the application of math). Each face of each block corresponds to a different property of that person/scenario. (For example, the “Travel” block, will have an auto, car, train and bus on the faces of the block respectively)

You begin by choosing a character, and this character then interacts with different people/places/transport mathematically by arranging the cubes (with respective faces) in any order- Like building a storyboard.

Children can use this device to build their own stories, engage with mathematics, and relate it to the real world.

Mediums and Technology:
Stop motion/Basic animation
Motion graphics
Augmented reality
Projection mapping
Multi touch screen

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rethinking structure

Categories (In progress):

Examples of permutations (Scenarios):

Narrative options:
  •  Is it a learning tool? A toy? Or a game? Or all?
  • Make your own problem: Setting the scene for them to create their own problem.
  • Goal: Single Goal/Multiple goals
  • Nudge
  • Reward or threat-Clues
  • Travel- Journey- Destination
  • Competition: Permutations/combinations to reach the respective place fastest
  • Fastest way to get somewhere
  • Narrative in parts: Level one/Level two
  • Building characters, building landscapes/scenarios
  • Have a fixed amount of money through a place- Simulated
  • Each step requires the child to calculate in order to progress
  • Understanding daily situations in the context of mathematics
  • Demonstrating a concept directly vs implied

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Concept: First Draft


A set of blocks representing a real world scenario, which can be used to build an interactive “mathematical” narrative. These blocks are categorized into "Elements", "Properties" and "Tools".
  • Elements will bring a characters/objects into the narrative.
  • Properties will add Motion/Action/Direction to the elements.
  • Tools will calculate the mathematics corresponding to the properties- For example, measuring, comparison etc.
  • Each face of each block corresponds to an action/animation. Each cube has 5 working faces (Options within that category- For example: The different sides of the “Character” cube will have a man, woman, child, dog, insect respectively)
  • The blocks can be placed in any combination to form an interactive “mathematical” narrative. There will also be a "Scenario" (Marketplace, Bank, Kitchen, Travel) block to set the landscape and goal.

Medium: Using stop motion animations with superimposed graphics.

Why this:
  • Real world context: Looking at data mathematically, directly relating to application. Showing the mathetmatics in common daily scenarios.
  • Exploring how different combinations/situations affect each other because of mathematics.
  • The blocks are categorized into “Elements”, “Properties” and “Tools”, so it is made clear that the interactive narrative is driven by mathematics.
  • Can be used to discover, explore and engage with mathematics through the story created- Permutations and combinations- Make your own problem.
  • Can be used as a tool to solve math problems- which will help them understand the context, and relate them to real world examples.
  • Focussing on basic mathematics and scenarios, but can be taken forward to demonstrate a range of concepts.
  • Shows connections between different mathematical tools (Fractions, Percentages, Decimals etc.)

How it works:
  • Each face of each block has a marker, which corresponds to a particular animation.
  • These animations are projected on the screen when that face is recognized by the webcam. (For example, face up. When the "Character" block is placed, the side which is facing up will be recognized. To change the character that appears, that respective side should be faced up) 
  • The animations, as well as all the permutations and combinations of interactions between 2 or more blocks will have to be programmed to behave according to the narrative/sequence of events.


References: Siftables (Make your own music), Levelhead, Scratch

What I need to work on now:
  • Simplification: Making sure there are only a few blocks, and each permutation and combination works (For example, as of now, the "tree", if placed with "run", will not work)- Reworking categories.
  • Plot: Each landscape will need to have a certain goal/challenge, to make it more exciting for a child- Storyboarding.
  • The form of the "block" is open to change.
  • Figuring out size, the "Play Area"
  • Augmented reality vs projection mapping vs a multitouch screen.
 Feedback would be very helpful :)

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    Design in Education

    Aajwanthi, Priyanka and I gave a presentation to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th years students who were participating in the Index Design Challenge. We spoke about Design in Education, Alternative Learning Methods, and our respective diploma projects in the realm of Design and Learning.

    Friday, August 13, 2010


    From the analysis of my research and interviews conducted, these are the points I would to focus on in my product/interface:
    • Drawing connections between different topics in mathematics
    • Mathematics and the real world: Applications
    • Tactile, Dynamic, Interactivity, Engaging

    Scenarios: Marketplace, bank, travel, cooking, home, etc. 
    Puzzle: Siftable concept using A.R:- 3D origami?
    Building/construction: (Abstract) Geometry, shapes, angles, 3D, percentages, fractions, decimals, ratio
    Story-based Adventure: Directions, angles, distance speed time, percentages, fractions, decimals, ratio, calculations
    Data Visualization: Real time data or music/dance: Mathematical patterns: Infographics

    Discounts (Simple Discount, Minimum Purchase Discount, Buy one get one Free, Paired Discount, Order Discount)

    Foreign Exchange
    Ratios and Proportion

    Cost- Petrol
    Distance, Speed, Time
    (The shortest way to get somewhere in a specified time)

    Organizing and Sorting

    • Augmented Reality
    • Tangible user interfaces- Using electronics and programming
    • Screen Application: Data Visualization- Using sensors, arduino and processing

    (I'm working on concept sketches, will upload them shortly.)

    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    Levelhead: Augmented reality

    An augmented reality spatial memory game by Julian Oliver.

    Thinking about form

    Interesting visual styles and formats

    5 sided LCD display:

    Multi-touch interactive surfaces:

    Paper explorations:

    Interactive video installations:

    (I will keep adding to this post as and when I find something interesting)

    Saturday, August 7, 2010

    Siftables- The toy blocks that think

    Toys that inspire learning, innovation — and of course fun! These are the toys of the technological age: they are alive, they think, they perform magic. What were your favorite toys as a kid (or an adult), and what did they inspire in you? David Merrill replaces traditional building blocks with electronic tiles that can add, subtract, compose and create.

    Siftables aims to enable people to interact with information and media in physical, natural ways that approach interactions with physical objects in our everyday lives. As an interaction platform, Siftables applies technology and methodology from wireless sensor networks to tangible user interfaces. Siftables are independent, compact devices with sensing, graphical display, and wireless communication capabilities. They can be physically manipulated as a group to interact with digital information and media. Siftables can be used to implement any number of gestural interaction languages and HCI applications. 

    More about siftables:

    Universcale- Nikon

    An application that helps us 'experience' different sizes. Very interactive; a good example of information design and data visualization.

    Thursday, August 5, 2010

    Interactive installations at Ars Electronica

    Ars Electronica, an electronic art festival in Linz, Austria.

    The featured exhibitions in 2008:
    OF lab
    The idea was to build a space where a dozen or so hackers, tinkerers and researchers will hang out and experiment, make art, create guerilla exhibitions around the festival and document their progress and discoveries.
    The OK center presented a selection of the best projects in the Prix Ars Electronica's Interactive Art, Hybrid Art and Digital Communities category.
    Featured Art Scene Exhibition
    Ecology of the Techno Mind presents a selection of works representing Featuring Art Scene form Kapelica Gallery (Ljubljana, Slovenia), artists who are deploying technology and science as a means of delving into social realty today. Among the projects' themes are new media, biotechnology, space exploration and the use of computers in the medical field.
    Hybrid Ego-Towards A New Horizon of Hybrid Art
    Staged jointly with University of Tokyo, the 2008 installment of campus is meant to illustrate how the creative economy that is so often evoked in this part of the world is already functioning quite successfully in Japan.


    A brainstorming session with Mrs. Premla Rajkumar, a professional in the field of alternative math education:

    Drawing connections: The ability to draw connections- Between different topics studied, as well as tools and their application in the real world. The “For example” is more important than the formula.

    Freedom: Children find math boring and think there is only ONE way to solve every mathematical problem. The trick to make math interesting and engaging is when you give them the freedom to discover patterns in mathematics, and find their own approach to it. (Make your own problem?)

    Simulation exercises: To specify context, and make them aware of real world applications of what they learn.

    Tools used:
    Schoolnet: Home tutor: This was a computer application which was sold to many schools and students. They use a interactive, step by step approach- Animation, Text and Quiz, and Explanation. Each chapter has a simulation exercise which helps children explore everything they have learned in that chapter.

    Curriculum based needs:
    -Children of the age 10-12 learn about HCF and LCM but don't really know how and where it is useful and may be applicable.
    -The inter-relation between fractions-decimals-percentages-ratios: Very few children know that these concepts are related and a problem presented through one concept can be solved through any or all the other concepts. The applications of these topics are many as these are the basic calculation tools which children learn. (Can be integrated with other tools like BODMAS, the basic concepts of algebra, etc)

    Now I need to narrow down on one mathematical concept/a range of linkable topics to work with, and also start looking at directions in terms of form.

    Maths Mela (By Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai)

    At Avalon Heights International School, August 2nd and 3rd:
    The students of the school conducted the maths workshop, where there were different games based on mathematical concepts. Students from different schools visited the workshop in batches. The concepts that the mela focussed on were not direct applications of the curriculum, but more about mathematical “wonders”.
    Unfortunately, photography was prohibited at the mela. These are some of the concepts that the exhibits were based on:

    The Seven Bridges of Konigsberg
    The Seven Bridges of Konigsberg is a notable historical problem in mathematics. Its negative resolution by Leonhard Euler in 1735 laid the foundations of graph theory and presaged the idea of topology. The problem was to find a walk through the city that would cross each bridge once and only once. The islands could not be reached by any route other than the bridges, and every bridge must have been crossed completely every time (one could not walk half way onto the bridge and then turn around and later cross the other half from the other side). Euler proved that the problem has no solution.
    At the mela, there was a 3d model of this problem, and students were trying to make a toy car travel through as many bridges as possible. The concept was then explained to them.
    Pick a number between 1 and 60. There are five boards with random numbers in a grid. The “magician” will guess the number on your mind by checking if it appears on any of the boards. The number on your mind is the sum of the first numbers on all the boards that your number appears on.

    Ames Room
    An Ames room is a distorted room that is used to create an optical illusion. An Ames room is constructed so that from the front it appears to be an ordinary cubic-shaped room, with a back wall and two side walls parallel to each other and perpendicular to the horizontally level floor and ceiling. However, this is a trick of perspective and the true shape of the room is trapezoidal. As a result of the optical illusion, a person standing in one corner appears to the observer to be a giant, while a person standing in the other corner appears to be a dwarf. The illusion is convincing enough that a person walking back and forth from the left corner to the right corner appears to grow or shrink. This is used in television, special effects, etc.
    At the mela, there was a 3D exhibit which children could learn this phenomen from. Through a peephole, they could see the optical illusion created.
    Elliptical Carrom Board
    With the striker and the other coin at the two focus points of the ellipse, when the striker is hit at any point of the circumference of the ellipse, it definitely passes through the second focus point, that is, hits the other coin.
    The 5 platonic solids
    In geometry, a Platonic solid is a convex polyhedron that is regular, in the sense of a regular polygon. Specifically, the faces of a Platonic solid are congruent regular polygons, with the same number of faces meeting at each vertex; thus, all its edges are congruent, as are its vertices and angles.
    There are precisely five Platonic solids: Cube, Tetrahedron, Octahedron, Dodecahedron and Icosahedron
    Playing with geometry, Constructions
    Children played with straws, flat shapes, and blocks and built sculptures.

    3D Animation
    The origin of numbers, the 0, 1, the concept of binary numbers, the Fibonacci numbers, and the abacus.

    Sunday, August 1, 2010

    Reading: Designing Multimedia Environments for Children- Computers, Creativity and Kids

    By Allison Druin and Cynthia Solomon
    • An overview of the past, present and future trends in multimedia for children
    • Compare the process, results, and impact of different multimedia approaches
    • A framework to develop your own approaches to multimedia
    • Origins of Educational Multimedia Environments: Kids today:When developing multimedia environments for children, we as designers must remember that children are not just short adults. We cannot water down multimedia environments designed for adults and expect them to be valuable environments for children. Young people have their own likes, dislikes curiosities, and needs that are not the same as their adults and parents. They love to draw, use clay, build with blocks, watch videos and play games. Children love repetition, but only when they are in control- Honesty, curiosity, repetition and control.
    • Elementary school math design issues:Elementary school mathematics is an area which is constantly under scrutiny and attack. Since atleast the beginning of the 20th century, educators in the United States have tried to fix things in the math classroom. Yet, it seems the majority of the elementary teachers and students have remained alienated. Societal needs for people who are comfortable in mathematical thinking escalate while the gap widens. The reality and pervasiveness of computers in our lives creates new needs and new opportunities to look at mathematics education reform. As educators, designers of educational material, graphic designers, programmers, parents, teachers, or critics, we need to identify our own biases, learning theories, and educational strategies.
    • Extending the curriculum: Math investigations:
      The CCC (Computer Curriculum Corporation) math material first developed at Stanford in the mid-1960s is now part of the SuccessMaker system; it “is a technology-based learning system that helps teaching and administrators meet educational goals. State-of-the-art multimedia-including digitized sound, full-motion video, and animation-provide interactive learning experiences for students at all grade levels” (CCC 1993,2). Math Investigations is a response to the recommendations of the NCTM standards to teach problem-solving in elementary school math. So, CCC obtained the Math Processor, which contains “online math tools and manipulatives” such as dynamically linkable graph, spreadsheet, and chart generators, a geometric construction set with linear and angular measurement tools, and other such tools. Children are given problem-solving situations which require calculations of various sorts.
    • Discovery learning:
      Davis is identified with a pedagogical approach called discovery learning or discovery teaching by which he means “that a teacher might call attention to a problem, but the task of inventing a method for dealing with the problem was left as the responsibility of the student” Discovery learning is one approach that teachers can use to help you build your internal structure and also help you correct this structure when it is wrong.
    • There are three types of multimedia authoring tools:
      1. Multimedia resources: libraries of multimedia sound, images, video, and so forth
      2. Multimedia presentations: tools to create slide shows, movies, animations
      3. Multimedia interactive authoring: tools to create interactive nonlinear multimedia
    • The Visual Almanac, Kid Pix and HyperStudio are examples of different approaches to multimedia authoring for children
    • While most authoring tools today emphasize the glue they give to combine different forms of media, the Visual Almanac emphasizes the types of media that can be glued together.
    • Kid Pix Studio is a paint, animation, and slide show program with a distinct sense of humour that appeals to young children (and adults).
    • HyperStudio is a multimedia authoring tool that a fourth grader could use to create a class project on whales or an interactive family tree with his or her grandmother at home.
    • Such professional authoring tools as Macromedia’s Director and Apple Computer’s Apple Media Tool offers examples of powerful metaphors that can be incorporated into children’s environments for the future.
    • Physical Multimedia Environments- The virtual versus the physical world:
      • In the future, children’s multimedia environments may not have to live in hard plastic boxes that sit on desktops with keyboards, mice, or the occasional joystick.
      • Multimedia environments in the future may look like any familiar room, stuffed animal, or toy block, and may be responsive to a child’s movement, touch, sound, or even gesture.
      • By offering real-world objects and places enhanced with technologies, physical multimedia environments can offer more powerful and involving learning experiences for children.
      • The Media Room, LEGO TC Logo, and Immersive Environments all have enormous potential for future physical multimedia environments for children.
      • Designing physical multimedia environments that utilize the power of new technologies, media, and physical spaces invites the collaboration of diverse talents.
      • Communication between technical and nontechnical, visual and non-visual designers may be the most challenging of the design process- PROTOTYPING is helpful.
    • Thoughts about tomorrow: “The best way to predict the future, is to invent it”
      • Some questions we can ponder about our future:
        1. What will our future approaches to teaching and learning be?
        2. What will our future technologies be?
        3. Where will our future technologies be created?
        4. What will not change in the future?
      • Social context
      • With technologies similar to Virtual Reality, we will begin to see more and more information superimposed on our physical surroundings.
      • As more and more of our information becomes digital, we will need better ways of organizing the huge quantities of text, graphic, and sound in our future.
      • As we look towards the future, there are certain design principles that will not change:
        1. Interdisciplinary team design
        2. The importance of content design
        3. Quality production values
        4. The importance of choosing an educational approach (and understanding why you’ve chosen it)