Chapter 2 – The Reading Rainbow

Week 2: January 22, 2023 – January 28, 2023

Blog entry by Lori Kipp

Summary of the week: This week, our team attended the Composition Box Workshop, creating a poster summarizing the main ideas and goals of our project and getting feedback from classmates. We did work on our website and logos. We also set up a schedule for our semester, decorated our project room, and continued performing background research for our project including attending a storytelling session at Carnegie Public Library.

Composition Box Workshop

This week began with our team getting turning back time – all the way back to childhood parachute field days! Early Monday morning, before the composition box workshop, our team headed down to the RPIS to examine what was fun about shared experiences, and have one of our own!

Playtime was then followed with the semester-ly composition box workshop hosted by Mike Christel and John Dessler. Since we are only one week into the semester, creating the composition box really forced us to focus on our project goals and our dual audience. Because our team is creating a tool to be used by high schoolers or adult volunteers, but those users will in turn be creating content for children ages 3 and up, we have to consider our UI/UX design extremely carefully.

From the workshop, we also got a bunch of suggestions on where to look for inspiration, like children’s nooks in libraries, role playing games, other museums, and more! Most importantly, our goal is to create an experience where the audience can become a part of the story.

Blogos and More

Our team’s 2D artist Randi began sketching some drafts of our team logo this week. After voting as a team for our top 5, we sent them to Shirley Yee for feedback. She, and our team, particularly enjoyed logos 8 and 10. Randi will continue to iterate over these next week.

Our website and blog also went live this week! We are so excited to document our work here, and sincerely hope that future ETC teams or any other story enthusiasts will find this a useful artifact.

Beyond blogs and logos (Blogos?), our team also began prepping for 1/4s, which is going to be on Monday morning next week! It feels like the semester has just begun! Nevertheless our team is focused on investigating what it means to tell an interactive story. We discussed this question at-length with Ruth, but plan to delve into it further at 1/4s. We hope to facilitate a conversation about storytelling and interaction rather than giving a presentation, since we are much more interested in narrowing our scope than presenting a solution.

Finally, our team saw a harsh reality – 14 weeks is not nearly as much time as it seems. Lori echoed Chuck Hoover’s scheduling exercise and took the team through the 14 week semester backwards. Knowing we have to be done by Softs (not Finals), with Carnival, GDC, Halves, and more eating away weeks of our semester, the time pressure we are under became apparent immediately. It’s a good thing we realized this now rather than late in the semester, so a huge thank you to Chuck Hoover is in order. With this time exercise, the team also has a paper calendar and a digital Gantt chart – two visual time trackers going forward.

Room Decor

On a much more fun note, we spent the first half of this week decorating our project room! No longer are the walls of 2310 barren and colorless; we have a trampoline, colorful foam tiles, rainbow pennant flags, a rocking horse, letter/number magnets, and a dinosaur tent! (The lattermost of these has become a favorite napping spot).


Our team’s research this week was threefold. First, Lauren and Lori visited a preschool storytelling event hosted by the Carnegie Public Library – West End. The team learned a lot about the attention span of 3-5 year olds – specifically, that it’s very very short. We also met with the CPL – West End’s children’s librarian, Beth Zovko, and asked her lots of questions about keeping kids engaged and how to regain their attention. Perhaps the most interesting thing we learned from her, is that kids don’t always act like they’re paying attention, even when they are. Younger children may not have the developmental maturity to sit still and pay attention to a storybook for multiple minutes, but even if they’re walking around, they’re still listening. It’s ok, even healthy, for kids to be doing their own thing and exploring in their own way so long as they’re not being disruptive.

Second, our team met with the ETC’s John Balash to discuss previous work with the Children’s Museum. John and Anne have had a working relationship that goes back a long way, and he has also done work outside of ETC projects in partnership with CMP. From him, we also learned a lot more about the ALPS tracking system – how it only works with iOS but how there’s already a stable git library for interfacing with iPads. Although we still have more research to do, it sounds like the interaction with the ALPS system may be an interesting and plausible platform we could leverage.

Finally, our team has done our own research into past ETC projects. Felicia compiled a list of all of the previous ETC/CMP projects, and we each spent some time looking at them. Mentioned by both John Balash and Anne, ARviation and Amuseum are the two most recent ETC/CMP projects, and both were largely successful. We have big shoes to fill, especially since this time the project is a lot more exploratory.

Operation Museum Visit: No Go

Our team had planned to visit the Children’s Museum this Friday during our core hours and spend a large portion of our day there. Unfortunately, Anne caught some kind of bug and has been out for a few days. Instead of visiting the museum on Friday, our team will plan to go over the weekend, although we will just be exploring on our own. Perhaps we will meet Anne in-person sometime in the future.

That’s all for this week! Tune in next time to see what becomes of 1/4s!