February 08, 2013

CoDesign Session: Powdermill Nature Reserve

Collaborators Present:

John Wenzel, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Stephanie Sanner, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Joe Stavish, Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Molly Johnson, School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University
Marti Louw, UPCLOSE, University of Pittsburgh

To further build a shared vision and refine goals, project team members jointedly developed a set of storyboards to be more specific and precise about use cases and the system to be built.   Storyboards enabled the project team a flexible way to quickly envision system elements—before any prototypes are built.

[link to protocol]

Meeting Notes:

Key Take-aways:
  • We are not building a key
  • Create a unique product
  • First page will have common insects that could be found in South Western PA
  • Enable use for experts and novice users without the interface becoming cluttered

Interface Co-Design Activity:

Rather than jump directly into an interview we conducted a co-design activity and asked John, Stephanie, and Joe to imagine the ideal interface for our Digital Teaching tool. We started with the top-level page and the participants used flashcards and post-it notes to mock up the interface. We continued with the GigaPan image and the participants added post it flags and notes to a printed image to indicate what would be annotated on the image and what additional information should be in the periphery.
High level interface flow:

Overview Grid: The Overview Grid will have 8-10 commonly found insects in southwestern, PA. The user will have the option to view images relatively scaled or size equalized. Clicking on one of the insects will take you to the order overview page. We want to also provide search tools to enable the expert user to bypass this page.
Order Overview: This page will have a simple overview of the order and its common characteristics.
Order Grid: The order grid will function similarly to the overview grid but the images will all be of families or genera from the order. Clicking on an insect will take user to the gigapan of the insect.
GigaMacro image: The GigaMacro insect images will overview information as well as characteristics marked and annotated on the image. This annotations will be separated into their level of specificity (Order, Family, Genera). When a user clicks on one of the marked interest points an overlay will appear with details about that feature. Annotation content could include text, photo, video,etc.
Global Features:

  • Inline dictionary, support novice users who do not understand scientific terms
  • Header with back and search

Student Program Overview:

After talking about the interface from the perspective of an adult training to be a science professional, we asked Joe Stavish, the Powdermill Nature Reserve Educator about the classes he teaches to middle and high school students and how the tool could fit into his context.
Program flow:
  • Step 1: Students go right outside, as a group they talk about stream ecology, and what they will find in the stream. They also talk about insect metamorphosis.
  • Step 2: In the stream, the students take water samples and test the chemical, temperature, and disolved CO2 levels.
  • Step 3: Go over process for collecting organisms
  • Step 4: 15-20 minutes of collecting, students are all given a hand strainer, a paintbrush, and a container to put their insects in.
  • Step 5: Students are split into groups of 5, and put their insects into a shared collection tub
  • Step 6: About 15 minutes of sorting. First sort is into 3 or 2 tails. Then the students use the Powerdermill Poster to try and identify the order and family of each insect.
  • Step 7: Once the insects are sorted, they count them and fill out a worksheet and talk about pollution tolerance value scores and what it means to find the insects they found.
  • Step 8: Return all insects to the stream
After gaining an understanding of how the current program works we discussed how our tool could fit into the program. Joe Stavish explained that it may not fit into the exact program that they currently run. But, he things the tool could make it possible to hold more specialized classes, that do a more in depth insect identification. He also said it could enable them to do more programs during the winter or if it is rainy and they can't go outside. We talked about how the tool could be used both with students and interested adults or university students.

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