On Friday, we managed to do a short play testing with Emily’s son, Ian. Emily works in the Tisch office located a few blocks away(yay). We tested 4 sets of our prototypes on him, two different pyramids, one round set and one square puzzle set with four individual parts.
Ian expressed big interest in all shapes in the beginning and tried to grab all different ones at once. But firstly, he grabbed pyramid with three layers, tried to stack them on top of each other, but didn’t do it in order. He placed the base one (the biggest one) in between the middle one and the knob (the smallest) one. It was interesting to see that kids love to stack, but for 3-year-olds, they don’t necessarily have a clear logic about which one is supposed to go on top of the other ones.
Then we encouraged Ian to keep playing with our other prototypes, he then went to play with the puzzled square set. He tried several times to put them together to be a square, which indicates that he knows about shapes. But during playing, one of the parts was put upside down, and he didn’t know that it has to be flipped back to form a square with the other three. So after he tried 3 times, he gave up on that and turned to the round set.
He loved the round set, and managed to stack all the pieces following the size order (the biggest going to the bottom). And when we asked him about which one is his favorite, he said he likes the round one the most, because it looks like snowman to him. Very interesting! Kids in his age don’t really perceive the world in 3 dimensions, sometimes they see shapes and describe 3D shapes in 2D objects.
At this point, he looked to be less interested in our prototypes, but when we encouraged him to play with one more time with the color taped one, he did but not in the way we expected. He didn’t follow our color hints, but instead he stacked four different parts on top of each other again. There wasn’t any size difference and he just tried to stack them up as many as he could.
That said, after playtesting we decided to continue with the round set instead of the pyramid.
Buying materials and using CNC for prototyping pieces
After playtesting we went to the Prince Lumber and bought some pinewood and CNCed three round shapes (thanks to Illay for helping with 3D models!).
We plan to put neon pixels strip inside of the round pieces, and cover it with veneer so kids can see the light coming through the wood when it’s powered. We will have a complete circuit inside of the base round and some change matured by both the middle and top pieces.
The current idea would be to introduce kids to different concepts of light: the background piece would light up when the middle piece is placed on top. We would either have a photocell or resistor acting as a switch to close the circuit.
The entire thing would also include Arduino to be able to program neopixel and to light (or change the color when necessary). The same would happen after placing the top piece on top: however, it would generate slightly different outcome (still figuring out what).