+ Video and Visuals
+ Spring 2015
+ Microsoft Expo
+ Design 386

Rishi Agarwal
+ Gloria Ip
+ Ben Schiffler
+ Tyler Sinclair Monteferrante
+ Robin Yoo


A three month long group project for the Microsoft Expo that focuses on universal design. After a few weeks of research, my group and I decided to pursue inclusive education since a strong program in schools does not exist today. We found that the current empathy education systems were very boring to the children and ineffective.

Nebula is an interactive program that implements emotional learning in schools by teaching empathy to promote inclusive behavior and thinking. This program is controlled by the teacher as they are given specific scenarios in which the students will respond to the choice they think is the best to fit. In doing this, we hope to create a more engaging way for students to develop emotional intelligence at an early stage. 

How might we design a product, service or solution for someone with a context-dependent disability that can improve that person's abilities in an existing context, or change their context to lessen or remove the disability?




We completed our primary and secondary research of multiple interviews from educators, students, and trusted resources, and found people are marginalized everyday because of their differences. These differences can range from wealth gaps, to race or background, or physical, cognitive, and developmental abilities. About a third of students in America are bullied and at least two-thirds have witnessed bullying at school. At most, this marginalization can be a form of bullying and a response to someone's own emotional distress or lack of emotional intelligence.

We began our research by looking into the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 1975) that ensured children with disabilities to have the opportunity to have a public education like any other child. We found there were many problems that arose from this act that were not being addressed such as the over-and under-identification of certain subgroups of students, delays in identifying and serving students who need help, and bureaucratic, regulatory and financial barriers that complicate the program for everyone involved. 


Emotional intelligence consists of three different parts: listening, understanding, and sharing. In order to be emotionally intelligent, one must be taught and utilize these tools on a daily basis. It is currently not being addressed in schools today. If there is an empathy education program, it has deemed to be ineffective. Which is why our group wanted to implement a program in elementary schools to promote and teach inclusive behavior and thinking at an early age.

Nebula — an immersive and story-based learning system, that reinforces the skills of emotional intelligence



It consists of two parties:

The students make choices in the game, which is given to the educators to use this feedback to tailor class discussions. 

1) LISTEN Children are listening to the characters in the game and taking in their surroundings, including the people and places located there this week. Before making hard choices with no obvious answer, they are forced to weigh the pros and cons of the nebulous situation and then each student slides their vote onto the decision of their choice.

2) UNDERSTAND - The students having now practiced their listening skills, begin to understand their own feelings and emotions. They see their choices impact on the story, and the characters within it.

3) SHARE - In the group discussion, they practice sharing their newly understood feelings with the group. That discussion can be tailored by the educators. 

(Last slide) an example of how the choices that the game recorded can be fed back to the teacher, to guide the class discussion teachers can tailor discussion questions based on the feedback they receive.


The system we have is possible to implement today because it is not tied onto one device and works on existing technology platforms.

After researching and speaking to educators, we learned that 3rd grade is a turning point in which kids not only acknowledge differences, they act on them. 

This can be scaled to older grades and potentially to workplaces to make environments more empathetic.


+ We realize that we are not curriculum designers and we have not developed something that will solve all marginalization. Rather, we have designed a system that will teach students to be more empathetic. 

+ It is curriculum friendly by reinforcing the existing curriculum, it is completed on a short, regular basis, and fits in the schedule and classroom. 


To see the final presentation document, please click here.