Due to the prevalence of using electronic devices, children are incorporating less motor skills to learn and play in their daily lives. Traditional learning techniques generally engage just two senses – hearing and vision – when providing access to information. Tangible Interaction promotes the concept of engaging multiple senses including vision, hearing, touch and even smell and taste as a medium for interacting with learning content.
Based on the problem space stated above, our team came up with the idea of the tangible learning toy ITSY to provide children a better learning tool. ITSY allows the user to learn at a more comfortable pace with more than one interactive input. This allows for a synchronized development of the brain. Targeting both the creative and analytic part of the brain.
Each of our team members is going to explore different learning topics by making four different teddy bears. I chose to teach children color and math as my individual exploration. Our target users are children aged 3-5 years old, Research shows that age 3 is a great age to start teaching number and colors and children who are 5 years old are able to count to 30 and represent numbers to 20, and they begin to solve simple math problem using number symbols.
Another research shows that learn math through visuals approach can enhance students’ understanding of mathematical concepts. When people work on mathematics, brain activity is distributed between many different networks, which include two visual pathways: the ventral and dorsal visual pathways. So that when children learn through visual approach, mathematics changes for them, and they are given access to deep and new understandings. I also got inspiration from a toy called ‘shape sorting cube’ which allow kids effectively develop their motor skill by building a box with different cubes.
I have built a prototype that allows kids to learn math and color though visual approaches. Users will be given auditory instructions during the process, they can interact with the teddy bear by inserting sticks inside different color areas of a backpack(attach to the teddy bear) based on the instructions. Users will be given math questions based on the number of sticks inside the backpack and users need to do make correct responses to answer the questions such as shaking the bear’s left hand. If users respond correctly, the bear will give both auditory and light feedback
ITY aims to allow users to learn at a more comfortable pace with more than one interactive input and this allows for a synchronized development of the brain. Targeting both the creative and analytic part of the brain. My final project allows users to learn math and colors with multiple inputs and outputs (Insert stick input, shake hand input, audio output, led light outputs) and create an interactive environment for children aged 3-5 years old to learn math and colors. Instead of using traditional math learning methods (teacher-centered instruction), I let kids interact with the toy and learn math through a visual approach. It also helps them develop motor skills by inserting sticks inside different color regions.
It is hard to measure the success of your final product meets the desired outcomes since the target audiences are kids aged 3-5 years old which are hard to access, especially in the current situation. (COVID-19) It is even harder to find some testers and audiences to do some testing and user research. And the majority of my user research is done by reviewing literature and interviews with some of my relatives who used to have kids aged 3-5 years old. But I have tested the usability of the final product with my friends, they mentioned that they can easily understand overall interaction flow and the prototype is quite interactive. However, some of them said the colors were not enough for children to learn color, it will be better to add more colors. Furthermore, the size of the toy can be bigger so that there can be more holes on the backpack and the math question can be harder in different levels of the game. And the backpack is little bit big compare with the size of the teddy bear, one of them suggest I can make a hedgehog toy instead so that users can directly insert the sticks on the back of the hedgehog instead of inserting sticks inside the backpack.
During the exhibition, I have watched lots of interesting and meaningful concept and our team have demonstrated our concepts by using three teddy bears, each of us were working on different learning content and these contents focus on incorporating multi-sensory learning that encourages children to use more than 1 senses to engage with learning. Each prototype utilises the sense of touch, hearing and vision to assist with children’s learning experience. We got many positive feedbacks and many audiences thought our concepts can effectively help kids learning in a funny and interactive environment, and develop their motor skills, we also got many suggestions on how we can incorporate with our concept together.