The Digital Dream Lab: Tabletop Puzzle Blocks for Exploring Programmatic Concepts

February 11, 2013

teaching simple programming to kids, found at TEI'13

to teach them that the physical world affects the virtual world

tangible educational system for young children

  1. jigsaw puzzles are helpful to develop logic and organization skills
  2. contrained froms of puzzles express the rules intuitively
  3. tabletop surfaces allow children to collaborate naturally
  4. tabletop surfaces keep the underlying technology in the background


projected screen like a whiteboard and a tabletop

final system

character block

turtle, frog, fish, octopus, alien, chameleon moving the thing causes the character to move in 3D as well

animation block

walk jump, wave combine them together

color block

each edge has a different color if you attach a character, the color will be applied to that character

size block

change size of the character by turning the size block

backgroud block

a dice selecting one of three backgrounds (forst, underwater, lawn)

variable blocks

has small instance blocks to use copies of the contained character communicate the concept of classes and data (I think she means prototypes)


unity3d used to render graphics tabletop only as input not as screen probably only one simple walkthrough possible

design process

throughout six user tests in the childrens museum pittsburgh

block design

detection system

interactive background added for user experience

design guideline for playful learning experiences

  1. continuous feedback for all sensed actions (“they are alive!”)
  2. graphic contents having character based metaphors (“my alien likes to swing”)
  3. powerful medium, jigsaw puzzle pieces (“love assembling puzzles”)
  4. open structure of the installation (“whats going on?”)

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