Soft Material Study for Young Children’s Tangible Interaction in Education
Researchers in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) have been exploring the physical/tangible aspects of computing to enhance the quality of digital/virtual experience. The association of physicality and materiality with digital information has tremendous potential to enhance the quality of experience in education, entertainment, and social communication, especially for children. Many interactive research projects for education have integrated tangible user interfaces (TUIs) suggesting that tangibility enhances children’s learning and development. It has been shown that TUIs provide potential benefits of interaction styles, facilitating or reinforcing the uptake of the digital representations. We focus on how the materiality of objects is perceived by young children and how materiality affects their haptic explorations with tangibles on a tablet. To study this, we developed several research prototypes. One of the projects, Stampies consists of tangible objects made out of different materials (wood, felt, silicone, and plastic) and an iPad drawing application. The material studies for young children have design implications for tangible interaction for children.
Interactive Arts and Technology Initiative (IATI) funded by TOP is a new collaboration group for interdisciplinary research and creative activities. This initiative is designed for active engagement from three colleges through a new course, existing undergraduate/graduate courses, graduate research, faculty research, and external events. The initial funding from the TOP grant helped us to construct a technical playground for artists and scientists. Many Interactive performances have been produced, modified as participatory artworks and exhibited at various local venues (Children’s Museum of Brazos Valley, Art Council of Brazos Valley, First Fridays in Downtown Bryan). The study also explores how technology affects a dancer’s cognitive process improvisation.
Creative STEM Education
Computer visualization techniques have been popularized in various areas: education, entertainment and interactive art. In addition, they are becoming more approachable and adapted to many different disciplines in an interdisciplinary sense. We focus on integrating tangible aesthetics to scientific and technological inquiry and practice. Our goal is to develop a Tangible Augmented-Reality Interface for mobile devices to enhance the effectiveness of learning scientific concepts including Gross Anatomy. Learning anatomy is fundamental to every health profession and related domains (Dance Science and Visual Art). However, many students spend most of their time memorizing anatomical terms shown in 2D in a textbook without learning or understanding the spatial relationships.
New technology often creates a distance between young people and their parents or grandparents. Creating soft tangible objects for various interactive systems has a potential to connect two generations through craft/fabrication techniques. The older generation has knowledge and skills to create tangible objects and young generation knows how to integrate technology to the tangible objects. In the process of creating personal objects, families can share their memories and create emotional attachments. We focus on holding maker workshops and creating wearable projects that hold shared moments in ambient ways.