Author: Annie Luc

The Computer and Information Sciences and Engineering Department of the University of Florida sponsored several students to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration this past October 4th – 6th in Orlando, FL! Several INIT members were able to attend (Dr. Lisa Anthony, Aishat Aloba, and Annie Luc) and experience the inspiring talks from amazing women leaders in technology. This year, there were 18000 people in attendance! It was incredible to be surrounded by such an amazing group of women and men dedicated to promoting women empowerment in technology.

The conference started off with an inspirational keynote by Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, an organization created to aid in solving large world problems in healthcare and education. She spoke of her experiences that shaped her career and presented tips on how to reach even more women in technology. Several pieces of advice she gave were to start early in engagement, combine computing with other passions, and remember that not all careers need to fit a 4-year ‘pipeline’.

During the conference we were able to hear from several other incredible women from both industry and academia, including Dr. Fei-Fei Li from Stanford University, Mary Spio from CEEK VR, Debbie Sterling from GoldieBlox, and Dr. Ayanna Howard from Georgia Institute of Technology, just to name a few. A fellow UF Assistant Professor, Dr. Aysegul Gunduz, also received an ABIE award as an Emerging Leader. Throughout the conference at least three simultaenous tracks of panels, technical talks, and presentations were held in the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Each of these talks were empowering and challenged all of us to make a difference every day. From robotics to VR to technology for social good, there is no end to the industries affected by computing.

I am a 4th year Computer Science student at the University of Florida. This was my third Grace Hopper Celebration and I am extremely fortunate to have been able to attend. This conference always serves to empower me and remind me of my passions and drive in studying Computer Science. I am currently working on the TIDESS project in the INIT lab. I am interested in learning how we can design engaging and effective interactive displays for children and adults in a museum setting.

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Check out our recent blog post on the TIDESS website!

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Since the last update , we have been funded by the National Science Foundation under the Advancing Informal STEM Learning program (Check out this blog post!)! This funding will enable TIDESS to investigate how children and adults can engage with data visualizations about science concepts on touch-interactive spherical displays. To support this investigation, we’ve changed our project name to TIDESS (Touch Interaction for Data Engagement with Science on Spheres). We will be getting a Pufferfish spherical display by the next year to use in this project, which will be really exciting.

It is still important to consider design insights from touch table interactive displays like the one we used in the study last semester because these insights will help our investigation of designing engaging experiences on the spherical display. We’ve taken the feedback from our observational user study at the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH) to work on another iteration of the prototype. We have implemented using Open Exhibits [link], which has allowed for efficient prototyping and is flexible for defining new gestures. We are currently in the process of piloting different versions of the prototype to finalize a design. From this prototype, we plan to conduct a lab study on the University of Florida campus to see how family groups interact and engage with this visualization. This will inform our investigation into designing natural user interfaces that support engagement and learning, rather than interfering or distracting from it. Again, these insights will be helpful when we investigate similar interactions on a spherical display.

I am a 3rd year Computer Science student at the University of Florida. It has been a great experience working on the TIDESS project and learning about new technologies and designs that will promote engagement with a touch-interactive display. I’ve especially learned a lot in regards to considering user interactions (from the swipe to the tap and so on) and designing to afford those interactions.

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Since the last update, we’ve completed the first iteration of the IPES Museum Learning Project prototype and deployed it at the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH) in an observational user study (http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/). The goal of this project is to explore the ways that users interact with the prototype to discover ways to make a better interactive exhibit for science museum contexts. We planned an observational user study that lasted 3 days during the month of March (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) to gather gesture data and interaction data from museum visitors. Our planning included facilitating the transport of the touch table from our lab to the museum, organizing a coding sheet to efficiently collect data, and practicing coding gesture data in preparation for actual museum interaction. From the study, we hoped to learn more about general interactions from museum visitors and specifically, discover patterns that support further exploration of the content. Overall, the study was successful and we collected valuable data that we will use to formulate design insights and plans for the next iteration of the prototype. We observed interesting patterns at the museum as well, such as differences between children’s and adults’ interactions. Dr. Stofer from the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication has also shared some insights from our study in her blog: http://kastofer.wordpress.com/.

I am a 2nd year Computer Science student at the University of Florida. I am thoroughly enjoying being able to work on the prototype and program features and gestures that will directly influence the way that users interact with the exhibit content. I have learned a lot about designing an observational study, and I believe this experience will benefit for future work in any field.

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The IPES Museum Learning Project prototype has been substantially improved and almost ready for the first deployment since the last update. We are preparing to use the prototype in the Florida Museum of Natural History for an observational user study. We will be exploring the ways that users interact with the prototype to discover ways to make a better interactive exhibit. The current prototype supports the standard touchscreen gestures: tap, swipe, rotate, pinch, zoom, etc. and displays information about ocean temperatures. The current visualizations show two different types of maps: a map depicting the baseline temperature of the world (as seen below) and a map depicting the differences from baseline. We have used observations collected at the Oregon Hatfield Marine Science Center (we’d like to thank the Cyberlab project under direction of Dr. Shawn Rowe) to create this initial prototype. The goal of our observational study is to learn more about general interactions from museum visitors and specifically, discover patterns that support further exploration of the content. From these observations, we can create design insights to support optimal interaction and better learning from large-scale displays in museum contexts.

I am a 2nd year Computer Science student at the University of Florida. I am thoroughly enjoying being able to work on the prototype and program features and gestures that will directly influence the way that users interact with the exhibit content. It will also be an exciting experience designing and running the user study, and I am looking forward to learning more about this aspect of research.

Click here for a picture of the visualization
Courtesy: NASA Earth Observations, Imagery processed in collaboration with Gene Feldman and Norman Kuring, NASA OceanColor Group.

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The IPES Museum Learning Project prototype is developing substantially since the last update. We are currently improving the prototype tabletop display to explore ways to make a great interactive exhibit. We are in the process of improving lag issues and building features such as gestures and aesthetic structures to engage the user. Continuing to use the observations collected at the Oregon Hatfield Marine Science Center, we’ve begun to define gestures that would be tested by users, such as tapping, zooming, pinching, and rotating. By adding customizable gestures, this prototype will serve as a rapid prototyping platform for trying out new interface designs. In adding new features and gestures to the prototype, it can allow for a more in-depth experience by the user and can allow for a greater analysis of the ways in which people interact with this exhibit.

I am a 2nd year Computer Science student at the University of Florida. With this new side of the project, I am getting hands on experience working with a tabletop display and programming new features on the interface, while keeping in mind the ways that users will need or want to interact with the display. It has been a great experience so far, and I am excited to continue building my skills in this aspect.

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Last time we talked about this project [Museum Learning Blog Post], we were in the process of organizing the observational data collected from the Oregon Hatfield Marine Science Center on museum visitors interacting with touch-enabled exhibits on the touch table and touch wall. At this point, we have identified all visitor groups that we have audio interviews, video footage, demographic data, and observation notes for, as well as some groups that we have only some of the above for. The next step in the research project is to develop and apply a qualitative coding scheme to the various data-sets based on our research questions. We hope to uncover some interesting findings to help us design better touch-enabled science museum exhibits!

I am an undergraduate student at the University of Florida studying Computer Science. Now that the data aggregation process is coming to an end, I will be able to develop analysis skills to apply to the information; in particular, I am learning the techniques used in qualitatively coding interviews, and beginning to think more critically about specific gestures and actions users perform and their significance.

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The purpose of this project is to design better interactive touchscreen exhibits to support learning in a museum environment. In our current study, we are examining different interactive platforms in the Hatfield Marine Science Center to analyze museum interactions. Over the previous summer, Drs. Anthony and Stofer visited the Science Center in Oregon and gathered preliminary data of museum visitors over a one-week period. We are in the process of going through all the data collected in the form of video footage, observation notes, audio recordings, and demographic questionnaires to consolidate a high-level picture of the data in a spreadsheet format. I am currently working through the video footage to provide a spreadsheet of the necessary data in an organized format. Our next steps will be to analyze the data we collected for patterns in how people interact with the exhibits using qualitative coding methods.

I am an undergraduate student at the University of Florida studying Computer Science. Working on the IPES Museum Learning Project has been so helpful in giving me a chance to learn not only research skills but also about computer science. For example, I am learning how to best organize video data in a log format, along with developing my Microsoft Excel skills.

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