The non-profit SS Columbia Project is restoring the 114-year-old steamboat SS Columbia. The goal is to make the boat a platform for arts and education that reconnects New York City to the Hudson Valley cities and towns.
Project team lead. My job include: set up team agenda, lead the team meeting, field research, interview, defining the design statement, user persona, brainstorming the solution, making player's role cards
Research, user testing, personas, prototype, storyboard
Fast prototype materials, Photoshop, Illustrator
To better understand the history, the space and people's relation with SS Columbia, we took a 4-day trip to Buffalo, where the SS Columbia steamboat is currently docked in August. During the trip, the team explore the steamboat’s engineering & functionality and insert the iconic steamboat into a larger historical context.
After visiting the space we prototype three concepts by fast prototyping skills and user testing them on crew members and artists working on the boat, and a fourth grade student. We learn that:
- Users were interested in images of the Hudson landscape and people who were on the SS Columbia in the past, not the history of the boat personified
- Users enjoyed interacting with an exhibit that would have direct action with the real steam engine, however most interested in team work interacting with others at display controls
- Users wanted to see stories of the people on SS Columbia in the past, not as much the boat itself
The ideation process start with defining the design statement. After the Buffalo trip, we first define the statement as "How might a steamboat connect and develop communities while providing inclusive entertainment & education?". The initial solution is to use the space of the boat to perform a serials of learning exhibition. However, after brainstorming and group discussion by card sorting, we realized that is may no be an ideal solution because:
- The statement is too broad, it is hard to determine the main target user.
- The boat is not available within one to two years, space exhibition is not a practical solution at this stage.
- There is no difference between this idea and other existing boat exhibition museum.
Based on the user feedback and our research, we decide to focusing on educating late elementary student "How might we use a unique out-of-school environment to improve classroom engagement for struggling students in grades 4-6?" After using empathy map to generate three personas, we further narrow down the range of "struggle", focusing on students who are struggle socially and create an after school program, which encourage team working through a game.
The game would have narrative in digital form related to SS Columbia, and student need to work together in real world for solving the challenges. We believe this back and forth between digital and real world let kids interesting engaging. During the interview, one educator indicate his concern about parents against digital product. After more interviews and discussing with SS Columbia member, we decide to stick to this plan. A digital game would be available to more people, even not in the Hudson region, this could help promoting the SS Columbia project, generate excitement during the restoration of the boat.
The solution we came up with is an after school program. In this program, students would form as a team of 4-5 to play a game. In this game, they need to cooperate together implementing a serials of hands-on tasks, learn social skills, as well as art and science.
During the game, each member of the group will be assigned to a role as a crew member of the time machine the SS Columbia. The group need to work together to travel and explore the Hudson region, vertically through time and horizontally through space.
- Each role have their own power, and each power requires different amount of point to activate. Users need to use their power to deal with incidences and barriers on their way. The whole groupe need to discuss strategies for each move. They could learn communication and negotiation during strategy planning.
- Cities in Hudson Valley will become supply station, the team can get points and purchase equipment in the station. Each station have a special hands-on task for people arriving there. Topics of tasks varies from science, art, history, environment, engineer, architectural, literature, etc.
- Member need to work on the task together, they would have assists's help if needed. This also encourage them communicate and cooperate.
I designed the role charter for our board game. We give up the first version of design and choose to make our crew member all animal for gender equal purpose.
Back of the Card
The project has been successfully delivered to SS Columbia Organization. This project will be launched in June 2017 for a series of SS Columbia promoting activity.