Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

CUNY on Wheels, PS 43, Rockaway Waterfront Alliance and... OCEANLAB

Yesterday we had a great day at the beach with students from PS43Q. I ran 4 Oceanlab workshops and had the help of my mother, Rose Klein- DOE educator. The workshops went well. Each time I ran the workshop, I became a little bit more comfortable working with students and I felt that much more confident presenting the material. Not being an educator myself, I truly admire the way that teachers can calmly talk to children - without talking down to them, or being intimidated by them. Regardless, I introduced the oceanlab website to approximately 100 students and got some great feedback. I learned that students in this school tap into the social networks of facebook, myspace and twitter. Many use the cell phone as means to search the internet throughout the day.

In a formal setting- such as this classroom on wheels- students were most concerned about learning where they could go to learn how to swim. This makes me think that I need to add more links and informal "lessons".

I am thinking of modifying the Oceanlab site to include areas for research and representation of the informal activities- but then again, I could rely on a facebook page to communicate that content as well.

Here are some photos from the day. I really enjoyed the experience of this mobile learning vehicle and am already talking more with CUNY on Wheels to plan our next event.
Look how neat the bus was!

Water safety learning in action.
We parked the bus right next to the boardwalk.

This is Norma Coleman James, Assistant Director of CUNY on Wheels.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Locative Bike Tour

Here are some pics of the Oceanlab Seamonster Summer Bike Quest. Test 1 complete. Still trying to come up with a snazzier title for this bike game/ tour. Below is a qr code that when participants take a photo of it with their phones, they receive a text message story element. Here, participants are told to read the signs surrounding them and to decide whether Shelly Seamonster should stay here for her adventure at the beach or try another location, because she is not a strong swimmer.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Friday, April 30, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My thesis process according to Phill Retuta

via his blog

1. Visited every public beach in New York.
2. Asked visitors what they thought about the beach.
3. Began research both on the web and in libraries
4. Compiled the history of NYC beaches and water safety
5. Googled everybody with the terms “NYC,” “beach,” “water”, etc. and made calls and sent out emails
6. Did a lot of soul-searching and got over her fear of approaching people
7. Became comfortable making mistakes, choosing topics, and not boxing herself in.
8. Went crazy.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Oceanlab- Some Publicity

Sooo the web address is wrong, and a few other minor details- but it's press! How exciting- the printed word. :) This was published in the April 9, 2010 edition of The Wave- Rockaways Newspaper since 1893.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


My mother is quite the craftswoman. She crochetted me an octopus in honor of Oceanlab.

Monday, April 5, 2010

First Official Sponsor

Oceanlab has it's first official sponsor- NextEra Energy. They will be supporting school workshops! Yipee!!!!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Filming for the Oceanlab Videopods

The other day we took advantage of the great weather and filmed the video pods at the beach. It was a great opportunity to talk to some real experts about beach life and safety. People showed up from The Rockaway Waterfront Alliance, Reel Works, The American Littoral Society, The United States Lifesaving Association, The Board of Education, The Surfrider Foundation, Boarders Surf Shop and local public schools. Here are a few sneak peek photos. More to come....

Rockaway Waterfront Alliance and ReelWorks
The American Littoral Society
Filming with the United States Lifesaving Association and the Board of Education
Surfboards from Boarders Surf Shop on Beach 92nd street

Monday, March 29, 2010

Some Great Feedback

Last week I had my midterm review for my thesis class and then, coincidentally I had a full out crit on my website in my Advanced Web Class. I'll break it down here, because both crits were really useful and truly helped me take my work to the next level.

THESIS CRIT -( Tuesday)
For the midterm review I had three critics- Anthony Deen, Marco Tandefelt and Chris Prentice. Anthony, my studio professor is an architect who focuses on the integration of technology into his work. He is also very interested in community development and I feel that he has been a good advisor for me because of this innate understanding of the connection between public land and it's actual use by residents. Marco is a physical computing professor in the department, and I think because my project is anything BUT physical computing- he was able to offer up some good outsider advise. Chris, is my writing professor for thesis, however she is so much more. Anezka told us that Chris has an expertise in writing grants, and focusing on academic writing. However, I find that Chris is one of the few people who have really helped me to see the importance of my work and how the message of the project could be extended beyond the thesis.

Okay, so enough with the introductions. Here are the highlights of my feedback:
  • I need to present my "big picture" ideas in a different way, because it is not communicating all of the legs of the project. Chris referred to this by saying I need a "30,000 ft map" of the project and Marco said that I needed to do a sales pitch, (which for some reason as I was standing up there made me think of Crazy Eddy from tv- we've got cables, we've got widescreen tv's....)
  • I need to give clear user scenarios about the project. What would the experience be for a teacher vs a student?
  • I need to describe the different levels of goals for different developmental age ranges.
  • Everyone responded positively to my new web design (thank goodness I was very n vous about this) but Anthony noted that I now need to refine it in terms of communication vs. design.
  • Finally, as I knew, I need to show some of my user testing.
Overall, all of this was really useful. I am going to make some time to meet with Chris and Anthony to talk about how I can achieve these suggestions, and really polish up my presentation for the symposium. The end is neigh!!!!

WEB DESIGN (Thursday crit)
I have to say that this was a refreshing crit. It has been a rare thing to get specific feedback on my designs in this program, usually the crits are focused on concept- which is fine, but sometimes you just need feedback. For this crit, my entire web class gave me feedback, as well as my professor Jay Van Buren. Jay has worked with a variety of clients, and is known for his work with non-profits and fine art institutions.

  • think about the bubble background- maybe reducing the amount of bubbles and adding a more obvious gradient to achieve a "wave" effect.
  • ABOUT page- split the page up into three pages. This will allow for tiered sponsors.
  • TAGLINE- move the tagline to live underneath the logo. This came up in both crits. Apparently, placing it where I did, above the navigation produces legibility issues.
  • the crab= "awesome", I need to go back and bring that same animated quality to the seagull and oyster. They don't have the same strength as the crab. (Chris also gave me this feedback so I am looking forward to doing this).
  • LANDING page- I need to make the current beach conditions more kid friendly.
  • There was also the suggestion of moving the characters to live just off the bubble shape. I need to try this out though, because I am not sure how it will look. I like how the whole site looks a bit like a big sticker.
And that's all. I am just going to keep chugging along and make my way to the end of the semester.

CUNY on Wheels has signed on!

A brief bit of exciting news- CUNY on Wheels will be donating a bus for the Earth Day launch. This is exciting, because the Earth Day celebration will be happening totally on the beach, so we are doing some mock workshops that will be on the beach but then we will also be user testing the website on the CUNY buses. These buses are fully equipped with computers and movie screens so it is quite an interesting opportunity. I mean, check out the bus in this picture- it's legit.

7 Scenes Test

A few weeks back I participated in a 7 Scenes test which was part of a MacArthur grant for a project that asked high schools to take part in making design decisions about the neighborhood surrounding their school. I really love the idea of this project. The test that I took part in was really just familiarizing the students (and some of the faculty) at Taft High School in the Bronx with the technology. We walked around with the kids in groups and showed them how to operate the 7 Scenes program on the Nokia N95 cell phones and then we took a walking tour around the school grounds. Prior to the test, the teachers programmed a 'scene' for the students to try out which included some interesting historical tid-bits about their school and the goal of the test was to get the students to think about how they could enhance the scene, and make it more into a game format. The group of students who I lead were extremely articulate and, exceptionally well versed in critiquing technology.

Projects like this are exciting because they use mobile technology to augment the natural environment so that students can see it with a critical eye. I would like to continue to think about ways to implement this kind of project with students in Far Rockaway. It would be fantastic.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Midterm Presentation

This is my last midterm----- EVER!!!!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Presentation for Parks Department

Quiz Game Progress

Here is a little slide show of where I am with the quiz game. Basically I made 15 questions to start. The game is now not leveled. I need to develop the curriculum and then make 30 more questions - 2 more levels of 15. Also- I need to work on the code, the animations for what happens when you get something right vs. wrong, make an intro panel and design the music. I guess this could also be without music.

Friday, February 26, 2010

My Thesis Process

The Director of the masters program that I am currently in (for only a few more months!) asked me to answer a few questions about my thesis process. It was a little strange to talk about my process and give advice to the next group of students doing a thesis because I am still in the middle of finishing all this! Anyway, here it is. If you are a first year visiting this site- please drop me a line and say hello. :)

A classmate of mine, Clay Ewing also was asked to answer a few questions.Here is his moment of fame. It's interesting to hear what he is up to and how far along he came with his project.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Website Creative Brief

I did THIS creative brief and brief competitive analysis for the oceanlab site. I am going to run this by a few of my potential users to get some feedback.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Peer Review Presentation

The presentation went really well. It was a nice small group of people. Only about 4 of my fellow second years showed and 3 first years. Seriously, I am not complaining! This was the most productive peer review that I have been to. Okay, so I was given good feedback on my website. Some suggestions:

-think about using javascript on the LEARN page to put all the content on the page and then let it jump down.
-think about completely separating the navigation for the TEACH page so that it is not distracting to kids using the site.
-for the exhibition, think about doing a demonstration of some sort- get people involved with the topic- if not the project.
-for the exhibition, maybe print out a beautiful user scenario

I think what was clear about my project- compared to the others in the class- was that my piece is not fine art. It's design. I made that decision for my work and I need to figure out the best way to exhibit it. My classmate Rupa suggested that I check out some science museums like the Liberty Science Center to get some ideas for display. Maybe Ill also take a look at the Brooklyn Childrens Museum.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My QR code tutorial

Review: The QR Code

I recently discovered QR codes. QR codes are two dimensional bar codes that were invented in Japan. QR is short for quick response and these codes really do just that. All that you need to do is take a picture with your cellphone and instantaneously a text message (or whatever kind of message is embedded in the code) will appear on your phone. For me it was love at first sight. I started thinking about all of the possibilities for encoding my neighborhood, writing secret love letters for my boyfriend, or even just for branding and marketing. My only issue with the qr code - for American users at least- is the qr code reader that needs to be downloaded on to your phone in order to use it. Many phones in other countries have the QR code reader built into their applications and such, but for me with my non- ipod phone- it was hell. There needs to be some better system to get the applications on to your phone. I had to hunt down a site that would have the specific reader for my specific phone. This is not so intuitive. It actually is putting a foil on my romantic code letter goals! However, after this hurdle- it is truly a pleasure to play with and it is a fun way to tap into mobile potential without building an appication.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mocking It Up

Updated Site Architecture

Why the change? I realized that parents and teachers (ahem families and educators) needed to be separate from learning for this to be a kid-friendly site.

Site Architecture

I have been tweaking the site architecture. I went from having 5 sections to 4... among other things. I am still trying to think about what can be more dynamic on the site. However, after my thesis I am probably not going to be maintaining this. So- I am just thinking about what existing API's I can pull from.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Website Interactive Research

I have been re-thinking how to use the oceanlab website. At first I thought that it could just be a container for all of the different kinds of media that are connected to the project. However, after some thought and a good dose of inspiration- I have been thinking about more engaging ways to relate the student visitors to their coastal environment.
Here are some of my recent inspirations:

This is pretty cool because it is really just a scene that has clickable hot spots with audio, visual or text embedded into it. It really personalizes the experience in a fun way.

This website features an image of a rainforest with a scroll over-able grid. On the grid you have the ability to click on squares which represent acres that you can pay to protect.The interface is really clean and nice, and its informative at the same time that it is getting you to take action.

Urban Plough is a site that uses google map images of a farm and allows you to scroll through and look at the changes in the environment over the years. Additionally there is information that pops up about the land based on the year and then embedded within the images are markers talking about specific projects happening in that location.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

monster mash

So I have been finally making things! I think that it takes me so long to just get in the groove and start. I remember someone telling me back a few years ago that it is part of my process to mull things over and think about it, plan, conceptualize etc. But to be honest- I hate not making things. I need to jump in and just make things sometimes to get further along in my project. This past week I made a brochure with all of the associated art. Making that art was a huge improvement for me. It helps me to see a light at the end of this tunnel that is thesis.

This past week I also met with the Parks Department to talk about the project. It was a really nice experience talking with them about my work and hearing about their plans for the future of the department. Hopefully more soon on that...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Obituary for Mel Cuba- Lifesaver

This is Mel Cuba in 1933.

I read this post the other day in the New York Times. It is an obituary for a 99 year old (wow!) man who had saved 4 children from drowning in the Rockaways during his youth. The article briefly discusses how these children came to the beach from an orphanage and then they got caught in a powerful wave. It just shows that there is this constant history of stories about children drowning and the "heroes" who from time to time prevent sad endings to stories- but very few about what can be done proactively to fix these problems.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Waterfront Park for the Rockaways!

The Trust for Public Land recently announced that vacant land at Beach 88th Street in the Rockaways will be converted into a public park. This is going to be an amazing opportunity for local residents and families to engage with their community and the ever-present coastal environment. This is an important bit of progress for New Yorkers connecting with their natural habitat. This project will hopefully ensure that the waterfront is something that can be accessed by people in a familiar, comfortable and approachable setting.

(image from the Trust for Public Land website)