Tiffany Tseng, Coram Bryant, and Paulo Blikstein. 2011. Collaboration through documentation: automated capturing of tangible constructions to support engineering design. In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children (IDC ’11). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 118-126.
In this paper, we present and evaluate the design and learning affordances of Mechanix, an interactive display for children to create, record, view, and test systems of tangible simple machine components. By documenting children’s interactions, Mechanix provides opportunities for children to learn from user-generated examples and to reflect on their own designs. Through a series of user studies with children, we examine the system’s capabilities for documenting tangible design work, facilitating social learning and collaboration, and providing distinct entry points that appeal to a broad range of learners. Our results illustrate the potential of incorporating automated documentation with tangible toolkits to support learning about physics and engineering systems design.