Elena Duran and Her Team Win the 2017 CHI Student Game for a Purpose Award


Geometris, a game developed by graduate students: Elena Durán, Leah Rosenbaum, and Ganesh Iyer, won the 2017 CHI (Computer-Human Interaction) Student Game for a Purpose Award. Games submitted to this category should be designed not just to entertain, but also to accomplish a societal goal. Example areas include games for health or learning games.

Figure 1 Award Ceremony

CHI Award Ceremony 2017.  Judges, chairs and the winning team (from left to right back row: Floyd Mueller, Robb Mitchell, Robby Van Delden, Lennart Nacke, Zach Toups, and Josh Tanenbaum. From left to right front row: Magy Seif El-Nasr, Conor Linehan, Elena Durán, and Leah Rosenbaum.

Geometris is a collaborative embodied game whose main objective is to provide children with a new way of experiencing geometry. With the intention of showing young learners that mathematics can go beyond its usual depiction as a solitary domain of formulas and abstractions, Geometris relies on teamwork and leverages children’s physical movements as a resource for thinking and talking about shapes.

Figure 2 Geometris gamplay

Geometris gameplay. Click on image to see video.

To play the game children need to interact with a 6-foot square mat to re-create some shapes that are projected onto the floor near the mat. To do so, they need to use their bodies to activate pressure-sensitive pads corresponding to the corners of the projected shape. Since players have limited time to create each shape, they need to coordinate their bodies and work as a team to accomplish the task on time. Once the gameplay for each level is over, a geometric design (the result of overlaying all the successfully created shapes) is displayed on the floor.


Figure 3 Geometris score

Geometris score.

BESTie and BiDizen Elena Duran is a concurrent master’s graduate student in Mechanical Engineering and a doctoral student in the SESAME (Studies in Engineering, Science and Mathematics Education) program. Prof. Alice Agogino is Elena’s research advisor in both programs.

Leah Rosenbaum is an EMST (Education, Mathematics, Science, and Technology) doctoral student, and Ganesh Iyer just obtained his master’s degree from the School of Information.

The Geometris team formed during Fall 2016 in Dr. Kimiko Ryokai’s course on Tangible User Interface (TUI) design with the additional guidance and support of Noura Howell, the Graduate Student Instructor.

In Spring 2017 the team also won two grants to further develop their game design. They won a small grant from the CITRIS Tech for Social Good program that awards student-led learning and technology development for healthy, sustainable, connected and equitable livelihoods in the U.S. and abroad. They also won a grant from the Barbara White Fund from the Graduate School of Education and were co-advised by Prof. Dor Abrahamson and Prof. Kimiko Ryokai to create opportunities for faculty to interact and strengthening ties between the School of Information and the Graduate School of Education.



Figure 4 Geometris Team

Geometris team (left to right): Ganesh Iyer, Elena Durán, Leah Rosenbaum.