Tangible Flags: collaborative field trip for kids

A case study of Tangible Flags: A collaborative technology to enhance field trips by Gene Chipman, Allison Druin, Dianne Beer, Jerry Alan Fails, Mona Leigh Guha, Sante Simms, Paper that will be presented at IDC 2006. The paper describes the participatory design of a "Tangible Flags technology" to support children (grade K-4) in collaborative artifact creation during field trips:

We worked with two teams of children in developing Tangible Flags; a group of 6 children, age 6-10, who joined us in our lab after school twice a week and a class of kindergarteners at the Center for Young Children, University of Maryland’s on campus research pre-school. We made observations of the kindergarten classroom’s actual field trips, and both teams participated in mock field trips. We experimented with marking the environment using flags consisting of a pipe cleaner attached to a popsicle stick. We named these Tangible Flags because the children planted them like flags and used them as a mock tangible interface for accessing digital artifacts. Our goal was to see the impact of the Tangible Flags concept on children’s collaborative effort and ability to re-locate or elaborate on their findings. These initial flags were not computationally enhanced, so adult researchers helped the children correlate Tangible Flags with various media, such as notes taken or pictures drawn by the children, or audio and video recordings created by the children.

Why do I blog this? this is a relevant example of how the physical connection to digital information through tangible interactions. The activity study is very insightful with regards to children appropriation of the technology.