The Royal College of Art
Erato Lab at Tokyo University
Team project: Industrial designers, Illustrator
Technology advice: Erato Lab, Tokyo
Project sponsors: U of Tokyo, JST(Japanese Government), Elephant Tech
Anik is a technology-friendly interactive storybook for todayʼs techno-conscious generation. Going beyond traditional text book, this innovative storybook, where conductive ink of silver nano-particles replaces electronic wires, allows children to build electrical circuits themselves by drawing.
Innovative ideas that combine design, technology, and science are changing the way we live. And STEAM education has played a crucial part in this. Many countries continue to use STEAM-focused curricula. According to the U. S. Department of Commerce, STEAM occupations showed a growth rate of 17% the past decade, which is nearly double the rate for other occupations. Although traditional methods of learning remain the primary educational tools, they often fail to grab childrenʼs attention. Anik creates engaging, interactive, and educational content that introduces children to the basics of electrical circuits through hands-on-play.
Positive aspect of STEM learning in early education
The electronic circuit educational toys currently on the market are almost expensive and difficult to play with. Also, teaching methods and materials used to teach in classes is boring and disorienting to students.
This innovative storybook is an exemplary illustration of where tradition meets technology. It adopts the best of both worlds—a fairy-tale style storytelling embedded with captivating pictures and scientific knowledge targeted to a young audience. Here, illustrations of real-life appliances, which come to life when overlaid with the ink, explain how electrical circuits work. Although traditional methods of learning remain the primary educational tools, they often fail to grab childrenʼs attention. Anik creates engaging, interactive, and educational content that introduces children to the basics of electrical circuits through hands-on-play.
Conductive ink is a technology that has a lot of potential in improving existing current products, the strength of the technology is it is lighter. ￼To excavate this strength, we use this ink in educational products that teach electric circuits to children.
Anik was designed with a mixture of artistic and technical experiments, case studies, and user research. It started with the broad idea that interactive design could be utilized in the education of children who easily lose concentration when studying. After learning about the conductive ink pen, we were able to materialize the idea into a detailed proposal. Through conducting many experiments and making several prototypes, we found the proper materials and forms of circuits to be used. Several scenarios of the story and style of paintings were considered to make children understand the materials and imagine the fairy tale more easily. After several workshops with elementary students in the UK and Korea, we adjusted the level of difficulty with the advice of parents and teachers.
Workshops at Elementary School
Children intuitively understood the circuit by using conductive ink, and were able to learn on their own. According to teachers' evaluation, children showed higher concentration and interest than they did in the traditional teaching method. In terms of the completeness of the product, however, the failure rate of the part where the battery, the component and the conductive ink are connected was higher than expected. Improvement of the design for the contact seemed necessary.
Improvement of connection design
LEDs with brass material printing are specially manufactured for stable connection
We have redesigned the part to make connections between components and conductive ink stable. The failure rate dropped close to 0% out of more than 100 trials.
" Anik demonstrates a simple and intuitive way of educating children about science through design. Anik creates engaging, interactive, and educational content that introduces children to the basics of electrical circuits through hands-on-play."