Andy Wu, Eric Caspary, Jay Yim, Scotty Hoag, Ravi Karkar, Dr. Ali Mazalek & Dr. Joseph M. Le Doux

Sketching plays an important role in learning in the sciences. The process of sketching can help students think about and better understand scientific concepts. By sketching collaboratively, students can also compare their mental models with each other and share them with instructors in order to further enhance their understanding. What if these sketches could come to life so that students could experimentally test out and iteratively refine their models of natural phenomena and systems? We are designing SciSketch, a tabletop tool for sketch-based problem-driven collaborative learning in the sciences. The system tracks multiple pen inputs on a tabletop display surface and can transmit sketch data to a remote computer. The first prototype provides basic functionality of digital sketching tools, such as copy, paste, and playback. We study how such a tool could be incorporated into the classroom environment for undergraduate courses in biomedical engineering.
Our goal is to develop a low-cost platform to be deployed in introductory biomedical engineering class, which is taught by Dr. Joseph M. Le Doux. In this class, Dr. Le Doux uses paper sketching as a method to teach students solving problems. We proposed a digital version that uses a project, a Wii remote, and some infrared pens. In the digital version, students can sketch collaboratively, edit their sketches, save and load their assignments and playback to walk through the problem solving procedures.
The most difficult part is to track and identify multiple pens in high speed. Can track a pen smoothly, we need a high-speed infrared camera that can reach 90 fps. We hacked a Wii remote to track the sizes of locations of infrared spots in high speed. We use a Java program to communicate with the Wii remote. The user interface is a web-based application uses the HTML5 canvas to draw the sketches and client-side web SQL storage to store the data on the browser. This design makes SciSketch a light-weight platform-independent application.