Launch Event at Synapse School

May 12, 2016 · 3 min read

Last Thursday, our team held a launch event at Synapse School in Menlo Park and got our prototype of Spaceflight, our VR experience geared towards increasing social and emotional learning, into the hands of students for the first time. It was really gratifying to see the students get so excited about our product and to hear their unfiltered feedback about what they loved and what they wanted to see more.

Cathy setting up one of the Oculus Rifts.

We arrived at Synapse before noon and were welcomed by Marsha Rideout, the Director of Admissions at Synapse. We set up three laptops and three Oculus Rifts in her office with few hiccups and had a few teachers test out our prototype before the students were scheduled to come in, giving us some good preliminary feedback from their perspective as teachers.

During our time at Synapse, we had 14 students between the ages of 8 and 11 experience our prototype in full and fill out a survey about their experience afterward. As observers, we took notes on how the student was adjusting to VR, how easy they found it to navigate in space using the Xbox controller, and in general how they were reacting to our prototype. The post-experience survey for students focused more on their understanding of the story line that was presented in the prototype and the type of emotions they were able to recognize, as well as the emotions that they themselves experienced while trying the prototype.

The students were full of smiles and super excited to try Spaceflight — they were all very familiar with the concept of a prototype and it was great to talk with them afterwards about things they wanted to see in the next iteration.

Cathy taking notes as Mari talks out loud about what she’s experiencing in space.

Students reported experiencing a variety of emotions while going through the game, which is a good sign that our game . The most commonly experienced positive emotions included: curious (71.4% of students), excited (57.1%), and surprised (50%) and confident (50%). The most common negative emotions experienced were: afraid (42.9% of students), confused (42.9%), and anxious (35.7%). 54.5% of students reported feeling concerned during the game.

A very animated Hannah after finding an astronaut in the prototype.

From the survey answers, it is clear that most students had a good grasp of the problem that they and the astronauts were facing in the game. The students also demonstrated varying levels of reasoning behind why certain astronauts expressed discontent and how well the astronauts seemed to work with each other through the conversation that was heard. Going forward, something we might want to look at if possible is to see if levels of comprehension or experience of emotions change with a second run of our product in the future.

Abby and Hannah filling out surveys as Ryan tries out the prototype.

Overall, we’re really happy that we were able to launch our current version of Spaceflight at Synapse, and we’re looking forward to making use of our feedback and iterating on our product in the next few weeks. A big, big thank you once again to the students, instructors, and administrators at Synapse School who so generously spent their time trying out our prototype and giving us valuable feedback in return and helping us make this launch event a great success. We’re working hard to incorporate improvements before our user test with 6th and 8th graders at Lawson Middle School next week!

— Sophie


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We’re a team of Stanford students working on Virtual Reality experiences for teaching social emotional learning.