Poly

 

ROLE

Research + Ideation, Venture Design, Prototyping, Content Creation

GOALS

Demystify the Food Computer by building trust, familiarization, and wonder. Bridge understanding between the food we consume and where it comes from. Inspire the next 1 billion food creators

TIMELINE

6 months

OVERVIEW

PROJECT BRIEF

Design the onboarding experience for MIT OpenAg’s Personal Food Computer (PFC) in the education field.

For our client, MIT, we developed Poly – an education organization with a broader vision, centered around the Personal Food Computer. In an age where Common Core standards precede creativity and interactive learning, Poly inspires wonder & collaboration by connecting students, subjects, and schools through innovative classroom technologies.

Our core product, the PolyBot, is a controlled plant-growing environment powered by student experimentation. The PolyBot’s interdisciplinary curriculum bridges Science, Art, English Language Arts, History, and Math. PolyDigital, our online platform, allows schools around the country to share real-time experiments. Creativity, curiosity, and collaboration: that’s what drives us.

POLY piloted in select Boston Public Schools in the Summer of 2016

 

PERSONAL FOOD COMPUTER

 
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To direct our research, we first met with the founders and engineers behind the Personal Food Computer (PFC) and learned more about the technology and the demographic intended for the platform. Here are the challenges we discovered:

 

DESIGN RESEARCH

Over the course of six weeks, we conducted a series of interviews centered around understanding the challenges in our education system. This is a snippet of what we learned:

METHODS

Individual Interviews, “Whine” & Dine (Group Interview), Contextual Shadowing

BY THE NUMBERS

32 Students, 17 Teachers, 7 Administrators

DEMOGRAPHICS

Public Schools, Private Schools, Experiential Schools

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IDEATION

KEY DESIGN CHALLENGES EMERGED

How might we design a turn-key learning platform, for every classroom in the country?

As we synthesized our research findings, key design challenges emerged: How do we design for every classroom in the nation? How do we design within the constraints of the Common Core? How do we simultaneously solve for student, teacher, and administrative needs? Over the next few weeks, we entered a rapid ideation process, reframing the problem, and landing on our vision.

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WHAT WE MADE

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POLYBOT

The PolyBot allows students to control climate variables and observe how the plants grow under certain conditions. The PolyBot can even program biotic and abiotic stresses to mimic environmental conditions such as an induced drought to create desired plant based expressions.

 

Through our research, we understood that students have little opportunity for hands-on, collaborative learning. That’s why every PolyBot is connected, allowing classes to experiment, collaborate, and share their learnings with their peers across the nation.

POLYDIGITAL

CONNECTED CLASSROOMS

PolyDigital is a digital experience that connects students, teachers, and classrooms around the world. Schools are often siloed, but with PolyDigital, we created a network where teachers can easily access curriculum and connect with other Poly classrooms.

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Students have access to their own social forum, where they can post experiment progress and connect with students around the world. When testing with students, we noticed that they were driven by competition in the classroom. We gamified the concept and created a reward system where students would be able to obtain badges as they meet certain milestones in their experiment.

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POLYBOX

NEW EXPERIENCES TO UNPACK

PolyBox is a starter kit experience meant to familiarize teachers and students to the specific unit the box is catered to, as well as the mission of Poly. The box contains seeds for the PolyBot unit, unit curriculum, a take-home component, and a teacher’s guide.

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BEYOND THE CLASSROOM

Through our research, we learned that successful learning extends beyond the classroom. We created PolyHome because we wanted to help kids become more connected with how food is grown and bring parents into the conversation.

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BEYOND THE COMMON CORE

We worked with Harvard Education students to develop PolyUnits, 16 curriculum units in aligned with our mission.PolyUnits are four-to-six week learning experiences designed to be turn-key and supplement core curriculum. With PolyUnits, students do scientific work every day, tracking plant development and testing hypotheses that tackle real-world challenges. Each PolyUnit comes with interdisciplinary lessons that connect science with art, history, math, ELA, and electives.