IXD301 Elements Project- Mind Map and Desk Research

Mind Map

Mind map for elements project

You can see the board on Miro here.

I began this project by creating a miro board and brainstorming so initial ideas in order to help me consider how to meet the needs of my target audience (children aged 8 to 10 years old). Here I considered what type of product did I want to create, what it should teach the user, what gameplay elements could be incorporated and if a storyline would be helpful and what topic to create a story around.

Desk Research

Educational level

To begin my research I wanted to look at my target audience. For this project, I have decided to aim my outcome at teaching children aged 8-10 about elements. I began this research by looking at what curriculum children within this age group are learning.

Science activity book for children

This is a very colourful and fun activity book. It looks at what materials are waterproof by having children dip different materials in water, parents are encouraged to question their children on the function of the materials. It also teaches children that objects are moved by forces by getting them to blow a plastic ball across the table etc. It also explores taste, understanding the body looking at key organs such as skin, lungs, heart etc. (pictures included). A general overview of plant stem anatomy e.g. roots, stem, leaves. Exploring light and shadows, forces and motion, materials that dissolve and thermal conductors.

In Year 4 (8-9 years) the content covered includes gasses all around us e.g. how you can perceive the air in a balloon, the gas used in a cooker and the bubbles in a drink. Other area’s looked at are vertebrates and invertebrates, how nutrients are transported in the body, solid, liquid, or gas and using different materials to make a home. Exercises involve sorting images, writing descriptive answers, matching text to a diagram and physical experiments.

In Year 5 (9-10) the content moves towards Earth and how it moves in space. A section on shadows and what they tell you about the suns position in the sky. There is also an information sheet with facts about the moon. Exercises include a true or false checkbox quiz, drawing activities, arranging images and text, physical experiments, written questions and answers and sorting images.

BBC Bitesize – What are elements?

BBC Bitesize, what are elements? page

 

BBC Bitesize gives a general overview of what an element is and how it cannot be broken down into any other substance. It also covers metals and non-metal, solid, liquid and gas states at room temperatures. There are additional video clips looking at the properties of gold how it can be beaten into a very fine sheet. In another short clip, the molecular structure of gold and oxygen are viewable in a rotating 3D form.

The overall design of the page is a little basic particularly as it is aimed at children. I think that more illustrative elements and a more child-friendly font choice would greatly help children to engage with the content. I like the inclusion of video clips however I still think the content in the videos could be presented in a more engaging what. Perhaps showing the process of how the gold is beaten into fine sheets would be more memorable.

From the main elements page children can look, what are solids, liquids and gases? what are reactions? what is hydrogen? and more Bitesize KS3 science. 

Some of these pages provide a side nav so that children can see the different sections of the page and where they are on it. They also begin with some key points that outline the important information that will be covered. There are a variety of sections on these pages, each is broken into sections with frames around them. Contents included video clips, illustrations, diagrams and photographs. There are also little drop-down features so that the answers to questions can be viewed. There are no read-aloud features on the page.

Project Approaches

detective book based on elements

Above I have looked at a book, The Elements in the Room, that presents elements to children in the form of a detective story by Mike Barfield.

The book is beautifully illustrated and very well written and broken into sections such as “The case of the hair-raising ballon” The book provides a breakdown of what an element is and what makes up an element as well as the periodic table, how elements were named, elements in space, how elements interact to make lightning, gas, liquid and solid states etc.

I really love this playful approach and am amazed and how much more interesting it makes the topic of elements while covering a wide variety of areas in good detail. This is a really interesting approach and I would love to add a narrative similar to the above to help children engage with the material.

Games

Image of popular kids games

When I searched top games played by children, google showed Minecraft, Fortnight, Roblox, Rocket lead and Mario Kart. When I narrowed the search to top games played by children between 8 and 10 the information generated appeared to be more tailored to parents.

What strikes me about all of the above games is their use of 3D graphics. I believe this is an area of growing interest and is something I would love to develop my own skill set in moving forward. They all use vivid colours and provide the players with avatars they control. While I do have to consider how I will prototype this game and making an avatar may not be possible I gound incorporate a mascot that as the game develops could become an avatar.

As I have decided to make my educational product a game I have decided to complete a competitive analysis that I will include in my next blog. This analysis will look at a number of games spanning from most popular to educational apps.

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