Learning Through Simulation Through Physical Models

Learning Through Simulation Through Physical Models

Learning Through Simulation Through Physical Models

This post is the third in a series of reports on using physical models and props in learning simulations. Read about Fun Lab’s first installment, Learn Design Interactive, and Bookstore Design here.

When Peter Post resigned as CEO of Clarion Point Technology, one of the world’s leading tech-subscription-rental-and-purchase services, he wanted to do something to keep his passion for gaming alive. Three months before he assumed his new position as the Executive Director of New York University’s Center for Play, Peter returned to the world of games again and this time got serious about creating physical models in game simulations.

Refocusing his skills with game design and programming (he has taught as an adjunct faculty member at NYU), Peter found himself creating a series of tabletop interactions that were aimed at inspiring the upper-elementary-school level of player-development.

Peter began his projects with a Leap Motion control and came up with the basic rules and assumptions for his product as well as the rules for the users. Soon after he created his E-Link, a two-player simple computer-based game based on the structure of the Mowgli story. Peter wanted to give the audience “a sense of an adventure and story, not a story with stats, but in a way that is modern and exciting.” By adding digital ephemera including animated pictures and videos from the Merriam-Webster website, he hoped to make the experience unique while at the same time making it a good foundation for designing further models.

Using his E-Link model, Peter partnered with Ed Soret of New York University’s Bands and ETS Group. With the consent of New York University’s Center for Play, Peter created a group of wooden postulators that could be swapped out as users tried to match up a series of letters with their intended letters on the E-Link. Unlike e-readers and tablets, the E-Link Postulators do not require the user to find an on-screen location to retrieve their letter of choice; it just dings a button and a letter is free at hand.

Peter decided to make the Postulators themselves and he enlisted his brother, Drew Post to help his process by creating a cardboard frame for each E-Link Postulator. To complement each model, Drew also prepared working-paper backdrops that would symbolize the tasks that the E-Link Postulators would perform. Once Peter and Drew had worked out the model’s specifications, they designed the materials to create the models using foamcore, wood, plastic foam, and magnet strips. During his childhood in the U.K., Drew played a lot of videogames and especially enjoyed magnetic gaming. According to Peter, his friend once told him that it was his favorite technology, but that he couldn’t get enough of sliding his old Lego boxes onto the magnet strips.

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