TECHville

T2 Campus, Genk

TECHville is a unique interactive learning facility for school children aged 10-18, located at the T2 training campus in Genk. YIPP developed, designed and implemented all digital aspects of this ambitious project. Visiting TECHville, a class will experience a 3-hour interactive live show, all focused on getting students excited about STEM (Science Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). What makes this project so special? Everything at TECHville is custom-made!

For this project which we realised in collaboration with Tinker, Bruns and Gado Gado, YIPP set up a complex backend system that allows for every aspect of the minutely timed live show to run smoothly. The entire visitor experience, as well as the show control for the staff, is facilitated by YIPP. Children are invited to solve digital and non-digital challenges in small teams at the individual workstations that are spread across the room. Topics of the challenges include learning about AI, programming, smart homes and smart grids, or sustainable energy sources like kinetic, solar and wind energy.

The digital games we have created at TECHville are spread over the five futuristic workstations, each of which has a custom hardware set-up to correspond with our games. General instructions, together with encouraging intro- and outro videos are presented on large vertical screens at each station. The games YIPP designed are complex, have a playtime of around 20-40 minutes and make use of a diversity of bespoke hardware. To name just two examples - in one game players learn how to programme an interactive dancefloor that they can then dance on themselves, while in another game players must establish a smart grid for a fictional city in an AR tablet game, using physical cables to connect the individual suppliers and users of energy.

All the challenges within the 3-hour experience are embedded in a captivating AV narrative. Before, after and in-between challenges, the story of a team of young hackers is being told on three large LED screens in the centre of the room. The narrative focuses on the hacker’s goal to make their city better with the help of smart solutions. Throughout the story they continuously enlist the class to help them to improve the city.

After a challenge has been solved, children place 3D printed objects that match the topic of their challenge onto a large interactive city-shaped exhibit. The children then receive audio-visual feedback on their challenge and are invited to share their findings with the rest of the class.

YIPP designed two different tablet apps to help run the show. One app helps the TECHville staff. It enables them to always stay in control, monitor the progress of the experience and to step in if need be. The teacher tablet allows teachers to keep an overview of their students, retrieve basic information on the themes of the challenges and to take pictures that will be shared throughout the experience and send to the class afterwards as part of a personalised after movie.