Hands-on learning.

Research – Concept – Prototype


In partnership with the Aquarium of the Pacific, we learned how to channel the power of storytelling into communicating impending environmental issues.

Linh Ho
Interaction Design

Naomi Tirronen
Graphic Design

Matt Benkert
Graphic Design

The Topic

One ocean under threat.

keyboard_arrow_up I listened to experts in the field

& also shared experiences of my own keyboard_arrow_down

More than 10,000 species are at risk of extinction every year, among them a swelling number of marine animals.

Humans have profoundly decreased the abundance of both large (e.g., whales) and small (e.g., anchovies) marine fauna. Such declines can generate waves of ecological change that travel both up and down ma­rine food webs and can alter ocean ecosystem functioning. Climate change threatens to accelerate marine defaunation over the next century.


Douglas McCauley

Marine Biologist | UCSB

Wildlife populations in the oceans have been badly damaged by human activities.


We may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event.


We should act quickly to slow the advance of marine defaunation.

Communicate the story of vanishing marine animals

in an engaging and memorable fashion.

Humpback Odyssey

Touching storytelling.

In a world inundated with flat TVs and touchscreens, we seek to reintroduce a tactile experience for better learning.


keyboard_arrow_up Control the timeline with a toy animal

Learn about the species’ history keyboard_arrow_down

The two-screened format means that information can be simultaneously communicated on two different levels: a timeline or journey map on the bottom, and detailed facts plus media on the top.


Why use objects?

In a child’s imagination, a little toy whale can become so much more. Tactile experiences activate specific regions of the brain, making the experience more memorable.


How it works

We created several prototypes to explore the desirable interaction.


keyboard_arrow_up We diverted the overhead projector beam to create a tabletop screen

keyboard_arrow_up We added a second display for deep-diving of information

keyboard_arrow_up Team members working on the second prototype

keyboard_arrow_up Magnetic-sensitive switches are used to provide interaction

keyboard_arrow_up Together they create a network of interactive hotspots

keyboard_arrow_up Testing the MVP

And presented them to an audience of scientists, staff, and city officials at the Aquarium.


Naomi introducing the interactive exhibit

Me explaining our reasons behind using an object for interaction

And going through some high-level demonstrations

We got good comments from the President

And the audience seemed genuinely interested in our design

Our prototype performed excellently, the audience was piqued, and we got good feedback — SUCCESS!

A sneak peek behind the curtain keyboard_arrow_up