The New England Aquarium Experience

+ Michelle Gelberger
+ Calvin Zhong

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The New England Aquarium provides a visitor experience that is both educational and entertaining, yet the aquarium’s fast-tempo and dense space can detract from a fully enriching educational experience.

How can we create an interactive installation in an underutilized space that:

1. Engages visitors in learning about ocean conservation
2. Rewards them for committing to helping with conservation
3. Capitalizes on phone presences to promote learning about conservation,
4. Connects visitors to immediate access to an informational post-visit platform

Through ethnographic research, interviews with users and NEAQ executives, iterations and feedback, we arrived at our final "aQRium Goals" project. We presented a fully-functioning prototype that gamified and socialized ocean conservation. Through a web app and QR code interface, users were able to scan a code and pledge to aid ocean conservation, receive instant gratification via a concrete coral sculpture that responded to their engagement, and finally, get sent further information about the Aquarium's research and a call to action.

To create our installation for the New England Aquarium, we utilized Illustrator, inDesign, inVision, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Python Flask to prototype and implement our web application in conjunction with individually-addressable LED strips, Arduino, concrete, stickers, and 3D printing to prototype and implement the physical table top and accompanying post-engagement gifts associated with a visitor's experience.

After creating a high-fidelity prototype, we presented a live demo of our interactive installation to multiple members of the New England Aquarium's executive board, including the CEO.