physical prototyping / education
FantaSTICK is a fun tool that augments the classroom experience for children, through guidance and structure that can support their natural curiosity and activity and ultimately empower them to engage with the outdoors.
Interaction Designer, Prototyping Engineer
Guerrilla Research, Literature Review, Ideation, Sketching, Electronics, Physical Prototyping, 3D Printing, Arduino Development
Recognition & Awards
This project was published in the Made at Berkeley book (by UC Berkeley Arts + Design), which showcases the achievements of top students at UC Berkeley in their respective arts or design fields.
We built Fantastick, an interactive modular stick to encourage children to sense, explore, and experience nature
“Children are naturally scientists”
While we hear this phrase often, children still need guidance and structure to turn their natural curiosity and activity into something more scientific. Children’s curiosity and need to make the world a more predictable place certainly drives them to explore and draw conclusions and theories from their experiences. However, they need guidance from an educator to practice science—to engage in rich scientific inquiry.
Research shows that most children have formed an opinion (either positive or negative) about science by the time they reach the age of 7.
This implies that early childhood educators have a great impact and influence on a child’s potential to seek out a career in science or engineering.
FantaSTICK is divided into detachable modules corresponding to colors and tasks. The purple module stores tools, the blue, litmus paper for testing PH, the green, plants or flowers, the orange, insects, and the yellow, soil as well as a moisture sensor.
In addition to the stick, we added the component of beacons, which helps to gamify the experience of exploration and discovery. These bluetooth enabled beacons are tethered to the children’s stick, and placed in areas of interest by the teacher or parent.
The soil moisture sensor was an educational addition that would allow children to sense and learn during their adventure, rather than after, since most of the other modules are for sampling or collection (aside from the PH module).
For the final design, we ultimately ended up with two independent systems on the stick: the sensor at the bottom with Neopixel strips, and the beacon scanner at the handle with Neopixel rings. Depending on the moisture level of the soil, the LED would change colors. If the soil is dry, it lights up red and if the soil is wet, it lights up green. We decided to use the LED display method instead of a numerical display because we felt like color is more easy and fun to engage with for children.
To begin the journey into the outdoors, parents and teachers place beacons in areas with data they would like the children to explore. When a child finds a beacon, a light at the top of their handle will indicate which module should be used for sensing or collecting. After a fun adventure, children can take their discoveries back to the classroom or the home, where teachers and parents can use an online platform that visualizes and records these discoveries through an interactive map and a personal profile. Changes in this data over time, as well as changes in the level of activity of the children, can be used to spark conversation, education, and further discovery.
The Fanstastick Team