Acorny, a Toy Kit that Supports Computational Thinking

DURATION 2021.07-2022.03
ROLE Ideation, Data Collection & Analysis
COLLABORATORS Soyoung Lee, Southern California University
PRODUCTION / REALIZATION TECHNOLOGY: Technology: Physical computing technologies, UX design process, 3D printed design Tools: Rhinoceros, Keyshot, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Figma, After Effects MATERIALS: Fabric cover, ABS
Dimensions: Hub module 30 mm x 50 mm x 30 mm, Logic module 75 mm x 70 mm x30 mm, Input & Output modules : 25 mm x 25 mm x 30 mm Specifications: Start Module (Bluetooth, WIFI, USB, Micro-Controller, 5~12 DC), Logic module (condition, loop), Hub module, Environment Sensor (Temperature, Humidity, Illumination), Infrared sensor, Gyroscope Sensor, Microphone, Dial, Motor, LED, Speaker

PRIMARY FUNCTION. Physical Computing Educational Product

BACKGROUND. Nowadays, computation and coding are considered abilities essential to every child growing up in the 21st century. In the past few years, countries are introducing computing curricula into their national curriculums to equip young children with much-needed skills. The issue presently facing educational technology is not teaching computational thinking and coding in early childhood but selecting appropriate tools and practices.

DESIGN CHALLENGES. Existing physical computing education products focus on results with complex conditions of operation, which results in difficulties in choosing the learning direction.

UNIQUE PROPERTIES, PROJECT DESCRIPTION.  Acorny is a physical toy and coding app that supports young children in computational thinking. The Acorny physical kit was designed with the motif of computer processing flow which made beginners intuitively understand computational thinking concepts. Based on the input and output physical module selected by the coding beginners, the Acorny application provides various coding tutorials, recommendations, and challenges to enable coding beginners in a range of activities and explore computational concepts. It’s an ideal tool to introduce young age children to coding activities and has huge educational potential.

OPERATION / FLOW /INTERACTION. Acorny is an easy and perceptive design product that young children can engage in a coding activity in a friendlier way. The design of the Acorny physical kit has a variety of intuitive functions that let users recognize and understand computer processing steps easily. From an external point of view, the product is designed with the Y-branch basic module with a LED interaction that makes users effortlessly recognize the computer processing steps. Furthermore, the elements of the physical kits which are classified into two functions(input and output module) can distinguish by the shape and color of the product. Accompanied by the physical kit, the application offers various programming lessons, recommendations, and challenges to teach core coding concepts. Based on the input and output module selected by the user, it provides tutorials, coding flow, and algorithm processes to enable beginners in a range of activities and explore computational concepts.

LESSONS LEARNED. Our team tried to 3D Print the design prototypes to evaluate the usability testing. We thought 3D Print models could quickly let us see whether our design choices were good or bad and improve the quality of our thinking. However, because of the short time frame, we haven’t got a chance to see the actual product in the real world. For the future, we are planning to use 3D printing in an initial process so that we can come up with a practical need we want to serve.