YGA | CSSC TWIN Kit Mobile App

Introduction

The TWIN Kit iOS app encourages tweens and teens, specifically targeting refugee and orphaned students, to create and challenge one another with TWIN science kits. It includes a public collection page where a user can create a log of all their TWIN Kit creations. It also includes a feed of challenges, which a user can respond to with photos of their TWIN Kit creations. Users can also create challenges to pose to the community.

Background

Who are we

Sophie Houser | Computer Science/VISA ‘19.5
Megha Malpani | Computer Science and Biology ‘19
Yuta Arai | Computer Science ‘18
Ruban Hussain | Computer Science ‘18
Jide Omekam | Computer Science ‘18


Skills we're bringing to the team

Jide - Backend Development (Java, Python) / Android Development / Internship Experience @ Facebook (product dev), Twitter (functional programming / scala), Snapchat (security), and Intuit (android)
Sophie - Android Development / Creating web tools in PHP at summer internship at Facebook / Making little games with Processing.js
Ruban - User Experience / iOS Frontend in Swift / Java, Python, JS Development / Internship Experience @ Amazon
Megs - User Experience and Design / iOS dev in Objective C / Java backend/Internship Experience @ Google


Context

YGA, Young Guru Academy, is an international non-profit founded in Turkey trying to cultivate socially conscious leaders of the future, specifically in STEM. They provide the resources and tools for youth to make transformative impacts today and go into STEM in the future. YGA does this through their summer camps for elementary to high school students and after school programming.
Through programs, YGA students work on social innovation projects such as:

  • My Dream Companion, a mobile application for visually impaired,
  • WeWalk, smart cane for visually impaired,
  • TWIN Science Kits for promoting science among youth,
  • WeTalk, the instant translation application to ease the social integration of Syrian refugees.

User Research

We wanted to better understand what TWIN kit users might want out of an app. YGA specifically wanted to target orphans and refugee students, so we needed a better sense of how they used TWIN Kits and their phones. We conducted interviews with a TWIN kit user and with a volunteer for refugee and orphaned students. We learned that users use social media apps and were interested in sharing their TWIN kit creations with other users. We also learned that users wanted to get building challenges for their kits and were currently getting inspiration from YouTube videos. From this feedback, we decided we wanted to make a community based app to allow users to share their creations, find challenges and pose challenges to others. However we also learned that while more privileged students might feel incentivized by competition and comparing themselves to others, refugee children, who tended to be less confident in themselves, might be turned off by competition. We decided to omit like, comment and friending functionality and add privacy settings to foster a positive, un-intimidating community.

Final Product




Creations Page
Add image and text based catalogues of your TWIN Kit creations. Make them public or private, so even shy users can post without feeling nervous.

Challenges Page
Find tutorials or open-ended prompts for TWIN Kit project inspiration. Look through existing submissions to challenges and submitter’s profiles for further inspiration. Or pose a challenge to the community yourself.


Visual Style and Layout

For the visual style we largely used the standard layout conventions of Apple's iOS guidelines. Otherwise we took inspiration from the materiality of Google's Material Design system as well as Google's highly optimized feed designs.
Many comparable youth, creation-based apps that we referenced had bold colors and 'kiddy' designs. While we could have gone in this direction, in our experience the target age group of our app (young teenagers) tend to want to avoid association with childhood, so we prioritized friendly minimalism over more younger-youth-centric styles. Following this, we wanted to create clear hierarchies of text, with clean and simple layouts.
I'm terms of colors, we largely applied Twin Science Kit’s colors, prioritizing contrast and distinctiveness. We used white for the backgrounds (just like most social media feeds) so we didn’t draw attention away from or clash visually with the colors from the media users might upload.

Development Process

We split up the work by big overarching concepts - the challenge feed page, the collections page, and the login page. Megs and Yuta primarily worked on the challenge creation, detail, & challenge feed pages while Sophie and Ruban handled the creation & my collections feed. Lastly, Jide and Yuta worked on the login & account structure. We thought this division of labor made the most sense because it gave everyone a sense of ownership and allowed us to learn both front & backend iOS development.

The tools we used include:
Figma - to make mockups. Allowed us to all work on the same document.
Trello - to keep each other organized & keep a record of what needed to be done/what had already been done.
Xcode - the IDE For iOS development. We coded in Swift.
Github - to allow us all to code on the same project
Firebase - our external database that stored all the data

Lessons Learned

YGA, Young Guru Academy, is an international non-profit founded in Turkey with the purpose of cultivating socially conscious leaders of the future, specifically in STEM, by providing the resource and tools for youth to make transformative impacts today and ripple effects into the future through STEM. This is typically done through summer campus for elementary to high school students, and after school programming. Among 50 thousand high school and university students who apply to YGA, 50 are chosen after a 5-step application process.

YGA Students inspire the world by developing pioneering technologies for a better future. Social innovation projects designed and brought to life by YGA Students are:

  1. My Dream Companion, a mobile application for visually impaired,
  2. WeWalk, smart cane for visually impaired,
  3. TWIN Science Kits for promoting science among youth,
  4. WeTalk, the instant translation application to ease the social integration of Syrian refugees.

Future Plans

We have now handed the project back to YGA to maintain and continue adding features. Some of the features they will include are:

  • The ability to add steps to a challenge to make it more tutorial friendly
  • The ability to upload videos in addition to photos
Additionally, our team is headed off to Turkey this summer to meet the YGA students & assist in their science engagement summer camps. We will help the students begin using our app and work with the YGA tech team to hand it off.