science centers & museums
picnic: Eat Well
for Early Learners
Discovery Cube Orange County (DCOC)
Santa Ana, CA
One of the Core Initiatives of DCOC is Early Learning. This initiative is dedicated to helping parents and guardians learn about the importance of play and to foster early development of healthy rituals, which prepare children ages 5 and younger to be well, happy and successful in school.
Beaudry Interactive was retained by DCOC to assist with the development of the Early Learners experience, guiding and overseeing this effort from early concept to installation. When completed, the entire Early Learners experience will encompass over 4,000 square feet of thoughtfully engaging physical play and storytelling. The experience is geared for young children, with a focus on the core concepts Eat Well, Play Well and Sleep Well. Early Learners is envisioned as a one-of-a-kind mixed reality experience that will combine physical and digital exploration of a themed environment, with immersive interactive gameplay. Eat Well, the first zone, is being installed in March 2018.
The goal of the first Eat Well exhibit, named Picnic, is to teach kids about food groups, portions, and how healthy eating affects our bodies. This is a complex subject, especially for kids in the range from 2 to 6 years old. Teaching must be done through visuals, sound, and most importantly, tactile gameplay.
Taking a page from other successful exhibits that Beaudry Interactive has developed for DCOC, Picnic gameplay centers around interaction with objects in the physical environment. Kids play with 320 custom-fabricated puzzle pieces, matching colors and shapes to positions on the plates in front of them, to learn about good food and good eating habits.
Discovery Cube provided the objectives for this experience, while Beaudry Interactive developed the concepts, script, characters, physical sets and technology behind it.
To assist kids in their learning, we developed brand-new animated characters: an aspirational Astronaut, a hungry Frog, a friendly Doctor, and a curious Dragon. These characters act as hosts for the exhibit, guiding kids through the game and adding an element of role-play, as kinds learn by repeating the actions of the characters in front of them.
Over one-hundred individual animations have been created for the Picnic characters, which are woven together into a simple narrative by Beaudry Interactive software. The actions of the children determine the course of the game and the animated characters react to their choices, thanks to sensors built into the place-settings. LEDs in the plates provide positive reinforcement when kids make healthy decisions. Combined with custom sound design, all these elements come together to gently lead the children through the process of creating a healthy and balanced plate of food.
Watch the video below to see the Picnic play test, conducted at Discovery Cube Orange County.