Chapter 1 – Once Upon a Team…

Week 1: January 17, 2023 – January 21, 2023

Blog entry by Lauren Platt

Summary of the week: This week our team started getting settled into the semester! We met with our team, our client, and our instructor and started learning more about our project and goals. We worked on logistics like setting up our room, setting team roles, choosing a team name, and setting core hours.

Team members from left to right: Felicia Li, Randi Ouyang, Wenlong Yan, Lori Kipp, and Lauren Platt. (missing from photo: Zongze (Damian) Xie)

Once upon a time in the far away land of the Carnegie Mellon University Entertainment Technology Center, 6 brave students set out on a noble quest to conquer the beast of interactive storytelling.

This is their story.

Welcome to StoryStudio! We are a 6-person team working in partnership with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (CMP) to design and develop a tool to facilitate interactive storytelling in the MuseumLab Grable Gallery space.

Our Client

Our client is the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (CMP) and we are specifically working within the Grable Gallery in MuseumLab. We are consulting with CMP employees Anne Fullenkamp, Senior Director of Creative Experiences, and Debbie Coppula, Professional Development Specialist.

Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
Grable Gallery inside of MuseumLab

Our Team Roles

After discussions of each person’s previous experience, professional aspirations, and personal goals for this project, we settled on the following base roles for our team:

Lori KippProducer and Experience Designer

Xinyu (Felicia) LiUX and UI

Randi Ouyang2D Artist

Lauren PlattHardware Engineer and Experience Designer

Zongze (Damian) XieNarrative Designer

Wenlong YanProgrammer

Choosing a Team Name

One of our first exercises as a team was choosing a team name! But how do we choose a team name that everyone loves? How do we choose a team name that is catchy and memorable (as advised by our instructor Ruth Comley)? And how do we choose what to name ourselves when we only have a short and relatively broad project description to go off of?

Our team took some time to individually brainstorm team name ideas, drawing inspiration from previous ETC project team names and vocabulary related to storytelling. Over the course of only 4 hours, our team had amassed 56 potential name ideas with teammate Lauren Platt contributing 39 of these ideas! (Way to go, Lauren!) 

The team then went through all of the potential name ideas and each teammate voted for their favorite ideas! After the first round of voting, we had 4 potential front-runners for names, with each receiving more than one vote of approval by our team. Our top 4 names were: XploR-a-Story, CMPlay, KidLab, and Cool Kids. We got together and brainstormed as a team and together came up with another potential option for a name: StoryStudio. 

After further discussion and deliberation, our team ultimately narrowed down our options to XploR-a-Story and StoryStudio. XploR-a-Story was clever, unique, and included a reference to XR which was mentioned as a potential focus of the project in the project description. However, the name was a little complicated, took a little bit to understand, the XR only really popped out in the name when it was written out, not spoken, and we were not completely sure that our project would end up using XR. With StoryStudio, it was simple, easy to understand and remember, had a nice alliteration, and we were sure that our project would have at least something to do with storytelling. A plus was that it was a name that we had come up with together as a team!

In the end, after discussions among our team and with the advice of our project instructor Ruth Comley, we chose StoryStudio!

We finally have a name! Yahoo! Go team StoryStudio!

Setting Up for Success

Our team then worked on logistics for our team and setting up for the semester.

We started setting up our room for the semester, including choosing desks and getting computers up and running again!

Wenlong Yan setting up his second monitor!

We set up a Slack for our team with many different channels which has been very helpful for communication and organization of information! Shoutout to our producer Lori Kipp for taking the lead on this!

Additionally, we set up our team’s schedule for the semester! We worked with everyone’s schedules to set up 20 hours per week of Core Hours for our team. We settled on Core Hours of:


9:30 am – 1:30 pm (including an instructor meeting from 11:00 am – 12:00 pm)

3:45 pm – 5:00 pm


9:30 am – 12:00 pm

2:15 pm – 6:00 pm


9:00 am – 12:30 pm (including a client meeting from 9:30 am – 10:30 am)

1:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Shoutout to Lori Kipp for the fun Core Hours Calendar!

Client Meeting

The team getting ready for our Zoom meetings of the week!

The primary focuses of this first meeting were introductions between the ETC team and the CMP team and getting more basic information about the project.

In the meeting, it became quickly clear that this project was quite different from other projects that had been done with the Children’s Museum before. In the previous projects, the CMP team had a very clear vision of what they wanted to accomplish. This semester, they did not have an exact project laid out and were open to our ideas. We knew that the project would probably be some kind of tool that would help facilitate interactive storytelling. We knew that an ideal project would have some blend between digital and physical. Additionally, they mentioned that they would dream of a project that could host hundreds of thousands or millions of visitors, including people outside of the museum’s walls. Finally, we knew they were not necessarily set on a fully fleshed out deliverable to install into the museum. Instead, they were looking for more of an exploratory project with a beta-level prototype. Beyond this, they left many of the details of the project design and development up to us to brainstorm. In some ways, the lack of concrete structure and direction forward was a challenge for our team as we did not know exactly what we would work on. However, it was also a wonderful opportunity as it allowed us to have a greater level of creative freedom and gifted us with the ability to explore potential possibilities that would align with both the client’s and our team’s goals.

The client also provided us with some details regarding the technology available in the space (ALPS and Promethean) and authors that CMP already has partnerships with (Jennifer George).

Client Meeting Debrief with Instructor

After meeting with our client, we got together with our project instructor Ruth Comley to discuss what we learned in our first meeting with our client and get her advice for forging the path ahead. 

Going forward, our team needs to explain the possibilities to CMP, narrow down what the client might want, and work to keep everything at a reasonable scope for this project.

Ruth also suggested a wonderful collection of potential features for our project including images, text, audio, lighting, animation, projection, page turning, and voice command.  

Thanks to Ruth for her wonderful guidance and advice!

Decorating Our Room!

All ETC teams this semester have the ability to decorate their rooms using ETC materials and can spend up to $100 on additional room decorations. Lori Kipp met with Janice to gather up some fun decorations for our team!

Some of our room decorations including rocking horse, puzzle piece mats, ball pit balls, donut bean bag chair, a cartoon town mat, and some blocks!
Our trampoline and our blocks!

We then spent some time this week looking at pictures of children’s playrooms and browsing for decorations online to get ideas for what to do with our $100 room design budget! Stay tuned next week to see what else we ended up getting for our room!!