Hands-on STEM gaming with interactive sensors.
THE USER EXPERIENCE.
The Kit is an extension for the Piper Computer Kit. The Piper is a build-your-own computer that teaches CS and hardware coding through a narrative-base, gaming experience. The extension kit continues the hands-on experience but with real sensors to interact with the game. To achieve optimal engagement, educational lessons are weaved into challenging game mechanics that themselves are driven by a rich narrative. The new components ask user's to experiment in their everyday living and learning environments.
For ages 8+, each sensor is straightforward enough with a diverse range of use scenarios to enhance any science or coding-related projects.
I2C Color Sensor measures the color chromaticity of ambient light because of its 16-bit analog to digital converter (8*2 array of filtered photodiodes). With the external pulsed light source, users can easily control the reading measurement.
I2C Temperature Sensor measures temperature resolution.
Ultrasonic Range Finder measures distance that is proportional to the pulse width of the sensor’s echo signal.
This custom jumper cable allows users to safely wire the sensors. The special diode feature only allows current to flow if the sensor is correctly wired.
Digital story, game mechanics, educational simulations, & level design with integrated hardware to create a seamless user experience.
LIVE FEEDBACK SIMULATIONS.
It all starts on the space station Starlab where the players are introduce to their mission. Each level, players will spawn onto a new planet and must learn how their IRL sensor works in the new world. Players use the temperature sensor for example to navigate through blockaded paths. As users measure new kinetic energy states to remove the roadblocks, they directly change the planet’s balanced climate. As players proceed through these narratives, they learn about the overarching theme of “cause and effect”.
Piper’s previous in game worlds were constructed from downloaded files with unapproachable player pathways. Directing a Raspberry Pi edition of Minecraft specialist, I was able to transform game levels into desirable destinations. I seamlessly infused these worlds’ game mechanics with consumable ecosystems that are essential characters in the narrative and motivate game-play.
Raspberry Pi edition of Minecraft limits educational simulations and game design capabilities. Rich animations easily round out the gaming experience. I taught the team how to sketch out storyboards to seamlessly intertwine game play with story motivation. Comprehensive reviews of character movement, interaction with environment, and sound design produced a night and day difference in story quality. Most importantly, real-life character scenarios created relatable challenges for the players.
Using qualitative & quantitative research practices to improve the brands software experience.
In research interviews, teachers asked for more complex learning hardware, especially integrated tools to measure data. During observation sessions, users revealed the inability to bond with original characters and the Piper’s original levels did not seamlessly integrate into the worlds.
In all observational and research interviews, teachers & parents asked for a lower priced SKU that builds upon the core experience. With a MSRP of $49.99, the kit can be easily bundled with the Piper, keeping our fans engaged.
I organized and ran all play-test sessions for each software sprint. These sessions included play-tests to validate wire-frames and animation concepts. Throughout development, we ran tests in classrooms to authentically validate the changes in hardware and software.
One session revealed that students were not grasping how the Color Sensor reads digital color, despite high engagement. I directed the team on the quick development of in-game animations to better explain the digital process while staying on-brand, resulting in overall higher efficacy.
To complete this project, I directed a team composed of developers, designers, animators, sound editors, and educational specialists.
The original characters lacked motivation, the ability to grow, and authentic character traits. Leading the team, we were able to bring these heroes to life through extensive script writing. I created new characters to provide narrative motivation, comedy relief, and bring depth to the main characters. I also changed the voice actors to improve likability of the personalities. Finally, I produced a character bible to guide any further development of the IP.
From concept through development, I designed the software script: in-game mechanics, motifs, assets, & IRL player action vs. In-game player action. I wrote the animation scripts at the same time to easily weave together the game development with the story and educational lessons. Even with the limitations of the software platform, the development team and I successfully implemented a huge new feature: in-game blocks to re-access animations, wiring diagrams, and teacher controls.
To integrate the new levels with the original, I lead the initiative to restructure the in-game menu. The new navigation provides guides for novice gamers to navigate subtle features with hovers and more intuitive button icons.
Another success of the game development was upgrades to the coding software. I lead the team to create a new component library that allows users to access previous lessons, components, and tutorials in order to hack or code their own projects. An in-app visualizer & simulator widget was introduced. And better controls for the tutorials were added.