Edward Euclide
 

Abamath: Code Championship

Prototyping | Persona | Roleplaying | Strategy Timeline | Video Presentation

 

A clip of our video to the client walking them through some of our findings from our 4-D prototyping of the event.


 

 

Envision strategy for an educational tech company looking to maximize its inaugural event into both the short and long-term strategy of their mission.

Abamath is a Twin Cities organization that works to provide accessible, educational coding courses for youth 8 - 15 years old.  Abamath currently offers a variety of coding courses through community education programming throughout the metro area.

This summer (August 2018) they are hosting an inaugural day-long Code Championship event, where children compete against one another using the MIT Scratch program to engineer their victory.  The client came to us looking to

Envisioning this opportunity into both the short and long-term strategy for Abamath's mission meant reducing barriers of accessibility and designing inclusion into their practices.

 
 

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A miniature event model with puppet personas

We prototyped the day of the event in 4-Dimensions (length, width, depth, time) using personas represented by these children's toys. 

This mapping of the family in time and space prompted the discovery of sensitive emotional moments in the family/event relationship. 

Such as that initial drop-off moment of welcoming.  This is when the parent/child separate for the first time!  The element of time caused us to ask questions like, "How long are they apart?" or "How long is it going to take to get these 30 ponies into the gym?".  We tracked these sensitive opportunity moments and built scenes that confronted them and/or maximized the moment for trust-building between our client and the families. 

Giving these personas voice and life brought them alive emotionally and kept us centered on the user in a process where we had no chance to do primary user research..

 
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Representation within Teaching Staff

"I know from my own experience seeing a role model who looks like you, who is successful in a STEM career, can be a pivotal moment,"

- Talithia Williams, Harvey Mudd College professor of mathematics

Last summer Abamath's staff was all white, cis and able-bodied. Changing the representation within Abamath's staff will shift the demographics of who attends and who continues to attend their events and courses.

“The healthy social life is found when, in the mirror of each human soul, the whole community finds its reflection, and when, in the community, the virtue of each one is living.”

- Rudolf Steiner, founder of Waldorf education

 
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The ride home is a time to cultivate conversation between parent/child.

Immediately sending out some photos from earlier in the day allows even the parent who didn't stay for the event to be cued into conversation with their child.  I also recommended sending some guided questions for the parent to avoid the,
"What did you learn at school today?"
"Nothing."
An effect that can make your event seem unfulfilling to a parent, even if the child loved their time.

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Leave them feeling stronger than we found them through the power of learning. 

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 My puppeteering and media skills came in handy for our video presentation!

My puppeteering and media skills came in handy for our video presentation!

 
 

 
 

From the Ground Up

Building Roots

In the past our client has contacted community education administation to organize their programming, putting out the word through community ed. publications.  As a former educator myself, I immediately noticed an under-utilized resource and relationship with schools themselves.  Taking a page out of grassroots organizing efforts, I recommended our client skipping past admin/org to org talks and going right to the roots of the education community: teachers, students, families.  Building these person-to-person relationships with educators is essential for both long-term and short-term success.  There is no telling how far these relationships with teachers can go, they are invaluable.  They can go so far as to mean free event space at the school, the teacher participating at the event, promoting it to their students, establishing lasting clubs in schools, all the way to Abamath's ultimate goal of "planned coalescence" into the public education system.
Teachers have meaningful, trustworthy relationships to families, the students and the communities they are teaching in and almost no one's recommendation will go further for your educational programming.  Getting in the door with a teacher isn't an option for a lot of businesses.  Not many teachers are looking to sell things to their students.  Our client is a teacher them self at a post-secondary coding school.  With our client's unique offerings and positions, these relationships with teachers have a real chance to flourish into something deeply impactful for Abamath, the teachers and the communities they serve.

Designing Inclusion

Our client's mission is clearly stated to provide inclusive, accessible programming for kids.  I strategized a plan that confronted systemic, societal barriers.  The first barrier we targeted was payment/registration.  We role-played times we've stalled payment for an event and began building systems that confronted the pain-points.  For example, the concern of "what if..." events that can make your $150 spent on this coding camp a total waste.  Or worse, you don't have $150 to spend on this event but you'd love to send your child.  Money is a real barrier and turning people away due to lack of funds is contrary to our client's mission.  Active-inclusion practices: representation of teachers, representation on landing page, direct stances on inclusion.  Accessibility: pay as able model, transportation, disability accessibility.

 Source images for ponies: hasbro.com "My Little Pony" A part of the strategy timeline meant to orient my client back to their mission and strategy.

Source images for ponies: hasbro.com "My Little Pony"
A part of the strategy timeline meant to orient my client back to their mission and strategy.