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In cooperation with teachers and nutritionists I developed a concept to help kids have fun with cooking and healthy eating. In motivating this target group playful methods have proved particularly successful.

The foundation of these playful methods are tasks, achievements and appropriate tools.

  • My Role
  • Research
  • Product Design
  • UX/UI Design
  • Branding
  • Tools
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe XD
  • Background
  • Bachelor Thesis
  • University of Applied Sciences Coburg
  • Duration
  • 9 Months

The Challenge

The overall challenge of this work was to address the effects of the acceleration on our everyday life, especially on our nutrition. An intense research phase had shown that the highest need of action lies on the education of kids and young adults.
To successfully approach that target audience the main two questions I had to answer were:
„How do you raise awareness for health and nourishment in young people?“

„How can they be motivated to gain knowledge about food and cooking on their own?“

Bringing these together defines the underlying research question for this work:
„How to create an interest in food and a healthy diet by kids and young adults and improve their appreciation for it?“

Process

Understand

To get a better understanding of the underlying issues I carried out an extensive research phase which included the study of books, research papers and interviews with professionals working in the field.

The acceleration of our everyday life is described as a characteristic trait of the modern society. From speed-dating to fast-food to power nap, even our most private moments are ruled by a drive for efficiency. These tendencies are subject of many scientific studies and the impact on our health is measurable in a variety of fields.

Nutrition is one of the most important and obvious areas. The time we spend preparing food at home has changed drastically throughout the last decades due to a variety of reasons. These days it is much more common to eat pre-made or partially prepared food at home instead of cooking a whole meal from scratch. When asked why, the number one reason people give is "I don’t have time". The once typical family dinner has been replaced by fast food to make time for the "more important" things in life.

Define the Objectives

The research phase brought up a variety of different approaches to tackle the impacts on the healthy development of young people. One of the main challenges is to motivate the target audience to spend more time preparing food and to create a general appreciation towards food.

For a higher chance of success, it is crucial that resources be easy to access and convey information in a way that motivates and encourages rather than patronizes.

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Problem Statement

Our users need easy access to interesting, engaging and targeted information about the preparation of healthy food and a way to learn the manual skills to apply this knowledge in their everyday life.

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Solution Statement

A program that allows young people gaining knowledge and skills for the preparation of healthy food. A digital platform delivers information in a fun and entertaining way and motivates the users with challenges, achievements and rewards.

User Interviews

After the initial research phase, I conducted several interviews with teachers and nutritionists to get a better understanding of the challenges people are facing when teaching kids and young adults to deal with food and nutrition.

I presented my initial thoughts and ideas to them to get feedback and to discuss different possible approaches.

Research Goals

Identify possible reasons for a decrease of interest in the preparation of food.

What methods have proven successful in educating kids about nutrition.

Find entry points to create or improve motivation for kids while working in a kitchen setting.

Affinity Mapping & Key Insights

The interviews were recorded and analyzed afterwards. I used affinity mapping to organize the notes and to gain valuable insight into the study.

Motivation Through Playful Methods

Raising interest and motivation in the respective target audience is one of the biggest challenges for a successful concept. Playful methods have proven particularly successful in a learning environment to keep motivation and interest, especially for kids and young adults. Activities targeting exploration, curiosity and reflection address our intrinsic motivation which is understood to be the most effective type of motivation for learning.

To implement these ideas into my concept I specifically chose the methodology of gamification. Frustrating or annoying chores of everyday life can be turned into a motivating and fulfilling task by applying rules and rewards. The foundation of these playful methods are tasks, achievements and appropriate tools.

Conceptualize

Combining the findings of my extensive theoretical analysis of the topic with the insights through the interviews I could gather enough information to develop a concept for my approach. My goal was to find a variety of entry points where my concept can build upon by analyzing the different approaches in how to communicate and teach food related topics and taking a closer look at the cooking process.

Based on the profile of the potential users I debated between a variety of directions in which I could go. By analyzing the cooking process to then align my approach with the specific goals and needs of the target audience.

Process Analysis

The decision process one undergoes when deciding whether to cook at home or not has four basic levels. It starts with the state of „hunger“. This continues to the decision of ‘if, what and how’ food should be consumed, enters the phase of planning, and ends with the preparation of the meal. The phase of consumption is deliberately not included in the process because its effect on the cooking process is irrelevant.

Analyzing the cooking process in more detail gave me the opportunity to find possible points of friction or resistance that may hold someone back from cooking on their own.

The points of resistance found in this process were analyzed and are the basis for possible starting points for my concept. I categorized these approaches in four different sections:

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Knowledge

Imparting knowledge necessary for cooking in the form of a guide or aid.

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Appreciation

Create appreciation with objects to differentiate cooking from everyday life.

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Playful

A playful approach guides and motivates the user to try new things and generate habitual behavior.

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Experiences

The made experiences are recorded to generate a personalized „taste identity“.

Customer Journey Mapping

Based on the four core principals from the research phase - imparting knowledge, create appreciation, playful methods and a „taste identity“ - I developed a concept that connects five main areas where the project takes place:- virtual space, at school, external locations, at home and in the supermarket.

At School

The concept is divided into two main parts. One part takes place in school where the kids learn the necessary skills in project based workshops and then compete at internal and external cooking competitions. Cooking tools and aprons will be introduced here for the first time and it is possible to achieve and receive badges in different categories.

At Home

Ideally the kids are introduced to the project in school where they learn the basic skills and receive the starter kit. Alternatively, the project can be started from home without any pre-existing knowledge. The parents should help in the beginning and, depending on the age, the child can take over alone as well. The project is based on a points system with achievements and rewards both digital and physical so the progress is physically experienceable.

User Flow

Breaking down the customer journey into an idealized user flow clarifies the consecutive steps the concept is based on. The tool set ensures a positive cooking experience while the digital tools support the user with important aspects of the cooking process, for example the selection or creation of a recipe, a shopping guide or a final evaluation of a recipe. The learning process is continuously recorded and rewarded at the end of each task.

Translate

The gathered knowledge and the developed conceptual model needed to be translated into a useful and enjoyable product. The most challenging part was finding a solution that creates interest in the project and keeps the users engaged. By referring back to the ideas of gamification and outcome of the interviews, I was able to bring the customer journey and the user flows to life.

The idea of teaching young people useful life skills brought the image of Boy scouts in the forest to my mind. I very much liked the idea of a Scout in the kitchen exploring new worlds, learning skills and cultivating an appreciation for food and cooking.

Developing the Product Language

From early on, scouts are trained to treat their environment and nature with respect and to grow up as socially responsible. I pursue a very similar target so I decided to include characteristic features of the environment of the Scouts in the design language of this project. Therefore the project became “The Kitchen Scout“.

Learning to Cook

The analysis of the interviews had shown that there are three main points to encourage kids and young adults to spend time cooking.

  • Make initiation of a new program intriguing
  • Motivate by creating a fun and playful environment
  • Keep the users engaged by including a variety of skills and techniques

Implementing features of the gamification methodology in the cooking process made it much easier to address those three points in order to create an engaging and motivating product.

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Quests

Translate tutorials and guides into quests and challenges to create a playful environment.

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Achievements

Award progression with achievements such as points, ranks and (real) badges

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Competition

Create challenges and competitions to stay motivated and connected.

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Creativity

Support freedom and creativity by providing tools and teaching necessary skills.

The Equipment

A source of straightforward information and reliable tools are essential for scouts when they are out in the wilderness. The same applies when preparing meals in the kitchen. Well-crafted equipment is therefore a crucial element in providing a safe and enjoyable experience in the kitchen.

Evaluate Cooking Skills

To record and keep track of your progress the cooked recipes will be evaluated by two main criteria.

Skills

The first criterium evaluates the gained skills in one of the six defined categories, dependant on time spent and difficulty of a task. For example, when spending a total cooking time of 22 minutes with around 10 minutes chopping, 10 minutes frying and 2 minutes seasoning, you get 100 experience points each for chopping and frying and 20 for seasoning.

Dish Types

The second criteria considers the type of dish. Each provided recipe is labeled with one of the six defined categories and you will get experience points for the specific dish category after cooking it.

Badges

Through the collection of points based on the mentioned criteria, the participants go through several stages in mastering one skill or dish. When a pre defined amount of necessary experience points for one category is reached, a final skill badge or dish badge is awarded both in the digital app and in real to put on your apron. The style of the badges is inspired by traditional scout badges and the names refer to the official language of the professional kitchen to imply authenticity and expertise.

The Products

The last step was bringing all my knowledge together to create the final products for “The Kitchen Scout”. A digital platform is the base to provide information intended to guide the users through the journey of learning to cook. A set of well-crafted kitchen tools links the digital information to the physical reality of cooking and helps to create an almost “ritualistic” atmosphere in which the user can fully concentrate on the process of cooking.

After initial sketches with pen and paper, I worked on the first drafts of the tools I wanted in the concept: a knife, a spatula, a chopping board and an apron. To provide the necessary guidelines, recipes and information, I decided to develop a concept for a responsive web platform.

Digital Tools

The online platform ties all loose strings of the project together. It offers all information necessary for novice users to get started and also provides news about projects outside of school.

Recipes and guides are accessible for non-registered users as well but it is not possible to track their progress, achieve badges, or receive invitations to competitions.

As a registered user you can talk to other people from the community, create your own profile to track your progress and get access to challenges and tasks tailored to your skill level.

Cooking skills are taught mainly through guides and quests. The guides help to improve general knowledge about food while the quests teach more practical kitchen skills in a fun and playful way.

The skill and meal badges are collected in the profile section where you can find an overview over your progress and achievements.

Check out the case study for the Kitchen Scout app to learn more about it.

Coming Soon
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Knife

Without a doubt the knife is the most important tool for the preparation of food and was the first tool I worked on for the Kitchen Scout. I had to consider various facts and circumstances that influenced the development of the final design of the knife.

According to the concept of the design language for the project I analyzed both traditional kitchen and outdoor knives to understand their characteristics. My goal was to integrate the best of both that would be suited for kids and young adults, so safety was another factor to consider.

To get a better feeling for the size and shape of the knife I created a variety of models out of wood and clay. The different shapes and sizes were tested with different people and hand sizes to find the perfect balance of handle to blade.

With a total length of 240 mm the knife is big enough to be used in a variety of kitchen tasks but still compact enough to fit smaller hands. The smaller size also highlights the reference to outdoor knives.

In cooperation with a local knife maker I created the final prototype of the knife. I used RWL-34 steel for the blade - a hard stainless steel which is perfect for a kitchen knife. For the handle I decided to use regional ash wood which is perfectly suited for tool handles because of its toughness, flexibility and durability.

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After tempering the blade, the knife was assembled and glued together. The final prototype is a fully usable knife and I’ve used it ever since in my kitchen at home.

Spatula & Chopping Board

The design features of the knife formed the basis of the other tools’ design. The octagonal shape of the knife’s handle is found again in the handle of the spatula and referenced to in the chopping board as well.

Spatula

The flipping end of the spatula has a slanted edge which makes it easier to reach into a pan and to get into corners. The handle gets thicker towards the end to improve grip and to allow for use as a pestle in combination with the chopping board.

The prototype of the spatula was made from ash wood, the same wood I used for the knife’s handle. After cutting a piece of wood to size I used hand tools to make the final prototype.

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Chopping Board

For the chopping board I decided on a medium size which is big enough for the most common tasks in the kitchen but still small enough to be transportable and not too heavy.

After the selection of the wood, the board was cut to size, milled and engraved.

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The upper side of the cutting board has an engraved grid to aid the practice of cutting different sized pieces. The size of the grid refers to the conventional cutting sizes in the french cuisine – brunoise and julienne.

The bottom side of the cutting board has a carved out bowl which can be used as a mortar or for serving food. A wraparound raised edge prevents smaller pieces from falling off the board.

Apron

The apron is both protection and a base station for all the kitchen tools. It provides pockets for accessible storage of all essential kitchen tools.

The apron connects the digital platform with the real world by allowing designated space for the attachable achievement badges to showcase your progress and success. At chest height lays markings for the badges and so over time one can place the newly achieved badges over these markings. The blank markings motivate the user to cook more often in order to gain more badges.

And if you are invited to a competition or want to head over to a friend’s place to cook together, you can wrap your tools up in your apron and you are ready to go.