This is an example of some of our teaching and engagement materials.
Beat the clock and Microwave racing introduce audiences to good and bad examples of design, in a familiar context.
Beat the clock
We give people a digital alarm clock to play with, but no instructions – after all it can’t be that hard to work out how to set the alarm for 7am surely? Apparently it is.
The aim is to let visitors to our clock stall play around with the different settings and buttons to see if they can get the clock to obey them, then we ask them to think about how they might make the task easier to perform by improvements to the clock’s interface.
For adults and older children we talk about the importance of good design as it applies to interactive medical devices – and everyone gets an “I beat the clock” sticker.
This was hugely popular at the Brighton Science Festival earlier this year where we had queues of people lining up to race two microwaves. The aim of the game is similar to ‘Beat the clock’ but rather than setting an alarm, the end result is the prize of a bag of freshly popped pocorn.
The microwaves have different interfaces and vistitors to this stall get the opportunity to be usability experts, testing to see how easy the designers have made the microwave to use.
This video demonstration of microwave racing also introduces the idea that if everyday objects like microwaves aren’t always easy to use then how can we be confident that life-saving interactive medical devices are any better?
See also Black, J., Furniss, D., Myketiak, C., Curzon, P., & McOwan, P. (2012). Microwave racing: An interactive activity to enthuse students about HCI. Paper presented at the Contextualised Curriculum Workshop at CHI 2012, Austin, Texas, May 2012 which discusses how we’ve used, in a school classroom or science festival setting, an interactive game (with two or more microwaves and popping corn) to demonstrate the importance of good device design.
Save the patient
This game lets you take on the role of a nurse on a busy ward setting up infusion pumps to deliver life-saving medication to your patients. Race against time and see how many you can save – play the game online at http://tinyurl.com/NumberEntryGame
We give free 1hr or 2hr talks and shows for schools in the UK on topics related to human error and safer medical device design.
Our interactive magic show is a real magic show where we not only teach the audience the tricks (after they have tried to work out how they work) but also use them to explain a range of topics that underpin the science of human error and its application in making medical devices safer to use. In the show the magician makes the whole audience make the same mistake at the same time. Designers of technology have to understand and apply the same psychology to prevent mistakes being made. We also show how the same techniques magicians use underpin the way computers are programmed.
The show appeals to a wide audience, and highlights how psychology, computer science, engineering, maths, psychology other social sciences are important if we are to make technology safely work for us.
See also Myketiak, C., Curzon, P., McOwan, P., & Black, J. (2012). Teaching HCI through magic. Paper presented at the Contextualised Curriculum Workshop at CHI 2012, Austin, Texas, May 2012.