Collaborators: Don Lee and Selena Zhen
H2OME is an interactive booklet for children to learn about water in the Anthropocene beyond a school environment. To educate our users about the water system, we designed a multi-page activity booklet, H2OME, aimed at children from grades three to five. The activity booklet consists of five activities, each one focusing on a different component of the water system.
We began the project with two discovery interviews of experts on the human water cycle. Namely, we interviewed Christine Mondor, the principle architect at evolveEA, educator at Carnegie Mellon University and Chatham University, and Chair of the Pittsburgh Planning Commission, and Mfon IBekwe and Vasi Vijayashanthar, PhD candidates at Carnegie Mellon University's Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.
From these interviews we gathered resources such as PittsburghH2O, PWSA, and FlushIt! and began our prototyping process.
The learning goals of the activity booklet are:
1. To help visitors develop an understanding and awareness of domestic water use, amounts of water in every activities, green infrastructures, and water sources across Pittsburgh.
2. To generate confidence in their water knowledge, such as identifying water sources, water contaminants, water infrastructures, and green infrastructures.
3. To enable changes in users’ cognitions in ways such that they are more aware of their water usage and are motivated to apply their new knowledge in ways that promote better water quality.
While designing H2OME, we used the CUSP Theory of Action for guidance. First, this booklet frames relevance because it depicts domestic water use in users' homes and focuses on Pittsbrugh's water sources. Second, this booklet encourages participation because the activities are not only interactive, but also conversation starters. Third, this booklet is interconnected because it demonstrates how domestic water use (system 1) is closely linked to water misuse (system 2).
We took various features of classic activity books, such as coloring, crossword puzzles, and mazes and created our own version, taking education and design into consideration. The elements within the booklet were hand drawn in a style that would be appealing for our chosen age group in order to grasp and maintain the attention of the users, while keeping our goal for educating the user on Pittsburgh’s water system and how the user can affect it. In the end, we came up with 5 different activities, a simple addition and multiplication based activity, a maze, an “I spy” activity, a crossword puzzle, and a cut out “design for yourself” activity.
Check out the full booklet here and the full process report here.