Oregon Coast Aquarium: A Vastly Educational Oceanscape Network
The Oregon Coast Aquarium saw a unique opportunity to engage youth in exploring the natural world in a new online application: Oceanscape Network. Part resource, homework tool, and experiential app, the Oceanscape Network aims to connect kids and teenagers to science and nature. (Think encyclopedia of all things ocean.) But developing this comprehensive site was no small undertaking.
To make it a true network, we needed to create an application that would enable functionality for three main site users. These include teachers managing their classes, youth completing a scientific inquiry through the network, and the Oregon Coast Aquarium staff.
We started our design strategy by identifying personas and mapping the goals of the project. While the Aquarium had its own visual designer, we informed the interaction design stage with wireframes of the network’s public and private sites.
To manage all the content, we also created a custom content management system (CMS) tool for network admins. This gave them almost complete control of the dynamic information. They were able to upload copy, images, videos, slideshows, and promos to the entire site. Once the visual designs came back, our team coded the front-end part and linked it all to the back-end.
The public site is now filled with rich content that allows for easy exploration of all the natural inhabitants of the land and sea. The Explore and Experience encyclopedic pages inspire youth to investigate and report on their own through special landmarks to visit, activities to join, and tools to share stories and photos. Through Educate, the private student/teacher area of the site, teachers can organize content and encourage students to walk through a scientific inquiry. The site gives step-by-step instructions along the way.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium staff now also has an easy tool and platform to add content. This has allowed them to engage youth to explore nature and visit landmark places on the Oregon Coast.