Oztoc is an immersive world where children design circuits to lure bioluminescent creatures from the deep. The game is a first-of-its kind museum installation, combining a state-of-the-art multitouch tabletop display with tactile physical blocks. The result is a hybrid game where students touch physical blocks to create virtual in-game circuits.
Oztoc situates participants as electrical engineers called in to help fictional scientists who have discovered an uncharted aquatic cave teeming with never-before- documented species of fish. The aquatic creatures who live in this cave are bioluminescent, and the visitors are asked to help design and build glowing fishing lures to attract the fish so that the scientists can better study them. Participants place wooden blocks, which act as electrical components (i.e., batteries, resistors, Light Emitting Diodes or LEDs, and timers), on the interactive table to create simple circuits. (The table recognizes the blocks via fiducial symbols). Creating a successful circuit (one that has the correct ratio of resistors, batteries, and LEDs) causes the LEDs to glow and lures the fish attracted to that type of light out for cataloging. In order to catch all the different fish, players must experiment with creating circuits with different colors (red, blue, or green) and numbers (one, two, or three) of LEDs.
In my role in the Oztoc project, I am developing analytical approaches for understanding how Oztoc provides participants with unique opportunities to set their own learning goals, collaborate with peers, and act as experts and mentors. I also designed a real-time companion tablet application for the exhibit that uses real-time data mining and user models to let museum guides know when participants may be struggling in order to provide the participants with timely support. This tablet provided the guides with critical information about users interactions that as always available, but was too difficult to track in real-time without technological support. This tablet brought this awareness to the surface and helped the guides make better informed decisions on-the-fly.