Prototype: Reflection

In the prototype stage, we discussed what different materials we could use. 3D printing was high on the wish list of materials and way of creating the prototypes. However, unfortunately we did not end up using that method. We ended up with cardboard and paper.

After coming up with a plan on how it should look like. We started figuring out how to make the panels/screens/readers to place the cubes on. What dimensions was it going to have? Was it going to be made of just cardboard, just paper or a combination of both? After a few samples in paper, it was obvious it would not be structural enough, so the base of the panels ended up in cardboard with a double layered paper top as a “screen” or a thin membrane to visualize that signals can go through. Then the cubes where up. After trying different ways, we figured folding paper and gluing it into square cubes where the best option together with the screens made from paper, since it would be light. The structural integrity was not too bad, but it was made of paper.

When making the video prototype we figured they should have been a little stronger, as kids are not so careful when playing. Still everything survived and nothing was damaged even though it was made of paper. As for a finished product, it should be made of plastic (or a material of similar weight and strength), for durability, lightweight and feel.

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Test: Reflections

Prototype testing is important to evaluate market response. During this stage, it is very important to ask the right questions, and test the prototype on the right people, which in our case is young elementary- school children.

During this phase we have successfully tested concept validation, flow of features and navigation. Making a product that children understand might be challenging, so we made it simple. Our three test objects understood how to use the prototype, and showed a positive response to its features.

Working with children isn’t always easy, so we met a few challenges along the way. It was  difficult to discipline young children, and we didn’t always understand what the point of what they said was.

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Ideate phase: reflections

Our ideating phase wasn’t the most successful one, as it was in this period we lost our third group member.

We probably should have documented more on our blog, but we didn’t keep many of the sketches we’ve made, because they weren’t very visually aesthetic.

We went back and forth a lot of times before we finally continued with one idea and one prototype. We think that we could’ve made a much better product if we’ve had a more organized ideation phase, and a full group.

During this phase we realized that we probably should have searched more for information about what kind of products are already on the market. We could’ve taken a walk to a toy store and looked through the toys for both inspiration and information on what kind of educational games are available. We regret we didn’t, because it would facilitate our process a lot.

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Define phase: reflections

In this phase we learned how to visualize the data through:

  • affinity diagramming (our favourite method)
  • parallel clustering
  • empathy map

We’ve learned to make sense of data and how various pieces of information are related, through immersing ourselves in it and making it into a cool looking diagram.

What we found difficult:

  • It was difficult to find the right names for the categories we’ve placed our information in.

What we think was kinda cool:

  • It was beneficial to sort the information we’ve got from the empathy phase into a cool looking diagram.
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Empathy phase: reflections

During this phase we wrote our very first literature review, which was, surprisingly, a very engaging and fun task to write. Before now, we didn’t have experience with writing such texts. We realized how important it is to actually find reliable scientific information instead of simply writing a text about what our subjective thoughts and expectations are.

We also got educated on the concept of a cultural probe, and how to make one. We didn’t know what a cultural probe was before the lecture, and we had to search through internet for inspiration. Unfortunately, there were few google search results (we found one from one of the hiof- blogs though, which was fun). Crafting a good and engaging cultural probe is a time- consuming and difficult task, especially when they are to be handed out to children. We felt that we didn’t manage to make it good enough, but we didn’t really have any other ideas about what to make, and how to make it more engaging.

Having the interview was a rather stressful experience, as we kind of felt that we were consuming valuable time with our amateur questions, but we got through and managed to gain some valuable information. While holding an interview, it’s important to follow what’s being said to be able to make relevant follow- up questions, which isn’t always easy. We had a semi- structured interview. We’re sure that if we didn’t use our pre- made questions throughout the interview, there would be a lot of awkward silence.

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5. Test

We tested our tool on 3 participants to learn how our users interact with the tool. We didn’t get much feedback, since 8- year old children aren’t exactly the most eloquent, but we’ve collected some new data through observation.

We wanted to test:

  • How the children react to the prototype and its ergonomics. Are the blocks too small/big to fit in their hands?
  • The understanding and entertainment value of the game.


– we could facilitate the process of finding the right block by color coding and writing the number of each side of the block

– the children enjoyed playing in a group

– the children enjoyed that there were several right anseres

– the children were in a good and enthusiastic mood



We tested our prototype on 3 children William (8), Emma (7) og Marius (8).

For the sake of performing the test, one of the group members had to play the teacher. »The teacher» was the game master, checked if the answers were right, heard what the children have to say and sometimes had to discipline them.

We didn’t notice any ergonomic flaws with the size of the blocks, but we noticed that having the number on each side of the block would  facilitate the process of finding the right block. We figured that we could also color code the blocks so they would be more fun to play with, and easier to navigate through. Cold colours could symbolize odd numbers while warm colours could symbolize even numbers. The blocks with the same number could be the same colour.

The children understood the game, and provided right answers most of the time. They seemed rather enthusiastic while playing, but we figured that the game itself might now have been the reason. They enjoyed playing in a group, and the freedom to talk about why they answered the way they did.  It seemed like they liked that there are several right answered, and they were curious on what the other children answered. They were especially happy when their answers were the same.

We noticed that the children weren’t completely focused on doing the tasks, although they did what they were supposed to. They talked and played with each other, and when the youngest girl took a long time to find the answer, she got help from the boys who were enthusiastic to show that they know the answer. We think that the setting we performed the test in differs a lot from a regular classroom setting, where the children would behave differently. We didn’t see their behaviour as something negative though.


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4. Prototype

Unfortunately, we could not 3D print our blocks, so they had to be made by hand, which was very time- consuming. We decided to make two blocks for each number, and two screens that the blocks are supposed to be placed on.

The blocks were made in paper, and look like this:


Our gui was made in Adobe XD. We used various shapes and colours to easily attract the kids’ attention. The game master can choose how many players are supposed to play the game, what questions are going to be asked, and which answers will be accepted. There is a scoreboard where the best results are displayed.


We used an 8- year old boy who likes mathematics to film our video prototype.

Our idea is that the teacher is supposed to have control over the app and display the game on a big screen for all the students to see, while the students only use the bricks.  We did not have a teacher that could join our project, nor did we have a screen. So we made the child navigate through the game himself. We think that using the game this way would not be a problem. The child could navigate through the game, while also answering the questions. So we’ve figured out that using the game alone could also be a possible.

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3.2. Personas, Scenarios, Storyboards





1: Ole is an elementary school student. He is sitting in the classroom, and listens to the teacher wile she introduces a new tool to be used during math lessons: a kahoot- like math block game. Ole, and every other student in the class, got handed out a set of blocks together with a screen that’s supposed to read the QR- code on the blocks. A teachers displays the game on a big screen, and the small ones that the students have wirelessly connect to the game. The screen displays the first task: 16. The students are supposed to make an arthimetic calculation that results in the number 16. Ole decides to answer with 4 x 4. That was one of a few right answers. A little green light on his screen appears, and he gets points for choosing the right answer.

(click for bigger picture)

2: Tone is teaching at an elementary school. Today, she wants to try out a new tool for teaching mathematics. When the lesson start, she hands out a set consisting of blocks and a screen to each student. Then, she connects to the big screen in the classroom, displays the game. Tone makes sure that every student is connected to the game, and then they start playing. The first task is displayed on the screen. She watches the students as they figure out the solution. She asks the students for the right answers, and after hearing what they have to say, she displays all the possible solutions on the screen.



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3.1. Generating Ideas



We put together the math contest and multiplication blocks idea.

Our ideas:

– Arcade math game

– Math twister

– Whack a mole math game

– Multiplication- blocks

– Visual calculator

– A math contest game






After working with developing our idea presented on the picture above, we realized that it became too similar to Osmo, which is another tangible math game that comes with an app. The two of us met and discussed what we could do further. We didn’t have much time, and we were only two, so we wanted to choose something simple enough to develop in a short period of time. So we decided to start working with another idea that we got that evening.

We begun prototyping a battleship math game, which turned out pretty good, but after a supervision, we’ve decided to continue working on developing a more tangible tool.

A battleship game app for windows/ android/ ios with several game modes:

– a multiplication mode, where the students have to write the right answer to the multiplication problem in the multiplication table to bomb the spot.

– a random mode with multiplication/division/ addition/ substration.The app randomly generates math problems that have to be correctly answered to bomb the enemy ships.

At our supervision, we were adviced to develop a more tangible tool, so we continued to work with our previous idea.

We’ve decided to make a game similar to kahoot, where the kids are supposed to answer mathematical questions by placing blocks on a screen that reads the qr- code, and then checks if the answer was right.

We choose our idea just by agreeing upon it. There was no need to vote by doting or any other voting method, as we only are two in the group, and could easily come to a conclusion by discussing our ideas.


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2. Define your research questions

To define our reserach question we decided to use an affinity diagram, because it stimulates the thinking process visually, more than a content analysis, and is more suitable for factual pieces of information, rather than for subjective pieces of information, for which we would use an empathy diagram.

Both of our group members looked at our literature review, interview and cultural probes,and wrote down those pieces of information that stood out from the rest. After comparing our results, we tried to find out how those various pieces of information are related, and begun organizing them into categories. By trying out several positions for our sticky notes, we modeled our diagram until we were happy with how it was organized.

Much information from our previous tasks was directly related to PCs and educational mobile and PC apps. We chose to focus on developing a tangible tool, and have therefore not included a vast amount of information gathered, that was exclusively about PC- learning and apps.

The end result

Math education in elementary schools

  • Learning
    • The students effort and cognitive capacity carries more weight than the method the knowledge is delivered
    • The teacher should vary between several knowledge delivery methods
    • Digital tools could be used to find the solution to a math problem without having to reflect about the task
    • By using digital tools, the student has the possibility to focus on the problem solving rather than the calculating
    • The traditional way of teaching can not be put up against the digital. They should complement each other.
  • Feelings
    • Students do not generally like mathematics
    • Using screens can cause headaches and tired eyes
  • Available tools and infrastructure
    • There are big differences in schools’ quality of digital infrastructure and internet speed
    • There might be some difficulty for teachers with less experience in the digital field to adapt to using new digital tools
    • There are many math apps available, but most of them are not good enough


After discussing our affinity diagram, we defined our research question:

How could we develop a simple digital tool to supplement mathematical teaching in elementary schools?

We defined it such way by using parts of the information from our diagram:

How could we develop…

a simple (teachers might experience some difficulties with new digital tools, and therefore we want to make it simple and easily understandable)

digital tool (we’d like to implement more digital technology at schools)

to supplement (the digital and traditional media have to supplement each other to create a good learning experience)

mathematical teaching in elementary schools (digital media aren’t used as much at elementary schools like in higher grades of education despite the children’s proficiency in using tablets, mobiles and computers)

Since the knowledge delivery method isn’t as important as the students capacity to perform well in school, we decided that our primary focus will be to develop a tool to make the mathematical lessons more diverse. We would like it to be simple in use, so both the teachers and students could use it without much problem.


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