A smarter way to explore STEM subjects

For my 8 weeks of final project at CIID I chose the topic of middle school education focusing on STEM concepts. Middle school education can be very challenging for students. They get introduced to a lot of new mathematical and scientific concepts that are often  abstract in nature and difficult to understand. What if these concepts could be made more fun and tangible? Would this help the students gain more confidence in learning these concepts, let them explore the subject matter more deeply and help them develop their own reasoning behind them?

The “Smart Lamp” aims to address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #4 “Quality education”. It empowers the schools in developing countries which lack quality physical laboratory facilities and scientific teaching equipment by being an all-inclusive teaching tool.

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Research and Insights

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Exploratory environment

The exploratory nature of learning reduces as students move from primary to middle school. Desk research and interviews highlighted that this becomes an issue since exploration is a key tool to learning new concepts and developing our own reasoning behind them.

Making the Invisible visible

A lot of STEM concepts are intangible in nature, might be hard to recreate in a school setting and therefore it becomes really difficult for the students to understand them without interacting with them.

Individual confidence before collaboration

Interviews with students and teachers highlighted that sometimes students are really shy in collaborative activities in the classroom. The standardization of middle school education in combination with “early teens’” social anxieties prevents some students from fully engaging with the education curriculum.

The problem statement

How might we enhance

the students’ home learning experience

to gain confidence through

exploration and interaction of STEM subjects.

Co – creation activities

Running co-creation activities with students, parents and teachers using low fidelity prototypes helped in gauging their view point about various technologies, their alternate ways of learning/teaching and other objects or services they found interesting. The assumptions around drawbacks of using technology in education got challenged in these activities and additional insights were uncovered. The students hacked the rules of prototypes to adapt to their needs which indicated the need to use physical objects in the project.

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The mixed reality environment is made possible using a projector, a camera and a micro-controller embedded inside a physical table lamp, in combination with paper cut-outs. These cut-outs are used as controllers in various experiments like flasks in titrations, mirrors in reflection & refraction , and a tower to illustrate Pythagoras Theorem in mathematics. The camera allows a machine learning algorithm to recognise the paper cut-outs under the lamp and project an environment accordingly.


Full control on the simulation provided an interactive and a playful experience


Changes in the projected simulation resulting from physical manipulation of the paper cut-outs creates an element of unexpected delight.


 An immediate cause and effect by manipulating and observing the paper cut-outs enabled better retention of concepts.


The playful nature of the interactions increased exploration and students wanted to make different combinations to explore different situations.