Chemistry is an important topic as it helps us understand how the world around us works. The importance of teaching chemistry to children is clear. Our future scientists depend on it. Raising children with a solid foundation in reason, who aren’t easily fooled, and have a clear understanding of the world they live in. Although in most primary school chemistry is not touched upon, leaving children uneducated for starting secondary school with no idea how even the simplest of elements work.
My brief for the module IXD304 was to create an application featuring 6 elements of the Periodic table. The application could either be aimed at 5-6-year-old children, or first year undergraduates studying a chemistry degree. The application should be an interactive prototype, allowing the user to learn in a more interactive / fun way.
One of the first steps taken when thinking of the brief was to mind map all my initial ideas. Getting all my ideas out allowed me to examine the structure of the subject “elements” and the relative importance of individual parts of it, it also helped me determine which parts I find most interesting about the subject and what you can learn from the elements.
One of the most valuable stages of designing my app was to do online and mobile research. I did so to gain an idea of ways others have displayed the elements particularly when concerning “food”, UI ideas, interesting features, usability, and the types of foods and elements that are featured.
Royal Society of Chemistry, Basic Elements found in foods by Yasmin Moctezuma, Periodic Table Quiz, were the types of online and mobile applications that I took inspiration from.
After researching and asking friends that study chemistry in Queens University, it came to my attention that in university, they don’t study elements. In first year, their modules include organic, inorganic, physical, as well as green chemistry and math. This didn’t suit my brief as I wanted to make a realistic application that would help teach the elements. Because of this I decided to take the alternative route focusing on teaching 5/6-year-old children their basic elements.
I created user personas to find out exactly who are the representative users, focusing on user needs’ empathy, expectations and how they are likely to use the app, I did so by describing real people with goals, UX needs, frustrations.
I created one female user persona and one male, although they are in the same age group, both have very different specific UX needs. I made sure to consider the users needs throughout the design process.
I created a customer empathy map which allowed me to include what I already know about my particular type of user group. This allowed me to create an understanding of my customer needs and to aid in decision making.
After researching /mind mapping many ways elements can be taught in a fun way to children. I decided to teach children the elements through the use of different food. Food is a major issue to young children, they either love to eat or struggle. By teaching elements through food, I was hoping to expand their interest in chemistry, as well as encouraging eating & most importantly healthy eating. The elements I chose to teach were:
The application I aimed for was an iPad application. I thought of many ways I could present food and elements to children whilst relating them to an experience they are familiar with. The experience I decided to base my application on was a shopping experience.
The user of the application can enter the shop and select any food on the shelf to view which element the food contains, as well as that it also tells the user 3 useful facts in which that element helps your body, which encourages the child to want to “eat their element”.
Another additional feature of my application is that the user can also view where the element is found on the periodic table of elements. The application is very bright and colourful to suit a 5/6-year-old, it is full of illustrations/moving animations making it interactive and a fun experience.
The Design of the product
As the application is designed at 5/6 year olds, I had to do all I could to assure it is properly illustrated. Using bright, bold illustrations to draw the user in and allow them to easily identify the foods on display. I used Adobe Illustrator to illustrated the foods I chose to be on the shopping shelf, the shopping shelf, and some of the health benefits the element gives when the food is consumed.
Using Adobe XD I successfully created a prototype to allow the user to navigate throughout the app. Creating this prototype allowed me to focus on interface elements, identify unnecessary elements, main navigation. Creating a prototype also allowed me to test the application with a few of my friends younger sisters, gaining me feedback on whether the usability is up to standard with the audience.