During my graduate fellowship at the Exploratorium and in the Learning Making Crafting and Creating class at Stanford, I designed three engaging physical-digital learning experiences using OctoStudio, a mobile coding app created by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. 
A common thread runs through all these experiences: the fusion of stories with the affordances of cellphones via OctoStudio, coupled with a tangible interaction layer to enrich the experience.
1. The Color Monster
Written by Anna Llenas, "The Color Monster" tells the story of a monster confused about its emotions. Guided by a friend, the Color Monster learns about the different emotions and how they look like through metaphors and colors.
Inspired by my mother, who is a teacher and uses this book in her classroom to discuss emotions with kids, I decided to explore physical-digital mediums to create an interactive character and bring the Color Monster to life. To do that, I've sewn a plush toy, and created the interactions with OctoStudio.
Bringing the Color Monster to life...
The cellphone serves as the soul of the monster. When a child shakes the monster, a new emotion - with a corresponding facial expression, color, and sound - emerges on the screen. Then, children can "paint" the monster with each emotion.
By the end, the monster is full of colors, illustrating how each of us carry a myriad of emotions.
Watch The Color Monster come to life
2. I am Stuck!
Julia Mills' book also deals with emotions. In this book, the main character is a turtle who is flipped over in its shell and needs help to get unstuck. The turtle gets unstuck by meeting friends along the way and asking for help.
To create a tangible experience inspired by the book, I've created a balancing toy. A physical shell that controls a game on the screen.
The pieces can be stored in the shell, and to start the game the turtle has to be flipped over.
Once the cellphone is on top of the toy, children can play with it. To flip over the turtle, the player needs to control its balancing, collect gifts, and meet friends along the way.
Watch the game in action
3. What's the story?
In this project, rather than drawing inspiration from a book, I've developed a storytelling game inspired by the familiar mechanic of selecting random cards to form a narrative. However, there's a twist: The story elements are determined by a connected dice.
My main focus was on experimenting with OctoStudio and micro:bit communication via Bluetooth. To achieve this, I designed a plush dice that communicates with the device. When a face of the dice faces upwards, the screen reveals one of the corresponding cards.
As OctoStudio features an extensive library of emojis and pre-recorded sounds, children can easily create their own set of cards and personalize the game.
Watch the game in action​​​​​​​
My role
Designing, prototyping, and documenting