Tracie Lynn Smith


social scavenger hunt for the classroom


UX Research

UX Design

UI Design

Content Design







06/2018 – 03/2019

Project Brief

Enable players to enjoy social scavenger hunts for real objects and locations in their own cities. Interplay started as a UX bootcamp assignment and became a passion project that aligned my background in psychology and design.

Design Criteria

  1. 1. Design for a specific circumstance
  2. 2. Make social decisions based on the experience gamers want to have
  3. 3. Make it conversational


  1. Middle school students need ways to feel socially and academically engaged when working in peer group formats within school settings.


  1. Using a synthesis of creative, engaging and interactive experiences in the classroom, students will learn how to work together using a gamified Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum. 

What is SEL?

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

Learn more

Problem Space

Middle school is a difficult transition for nearly all students as they manage increased workloads, school technology responsibilities and logistical concerns like navigating school campuses all while trying to fit in with peers and experiencing puberty. Good times.


  1. - Strong desire to fit in with peers and belong to a group
  2. - Can experience intense emotions
  3. - Tend to test limits and challenge authority


  1. - May lose interest quickly if info is not presented dynamically
  2. - Develop capacity for abstract thinking, thinking about future and needs
  3. - Able to consider ethical and moral questions but often lack experience and reasoning skills to make sound choices


  1. - Seek independence and develop understanding of their individuality
  2. - Highly sensitive to criticism
  3. - Experience intense emotions and stress


  1. - Onset of puberty – hormonal, sleep changes & growing pains
  2. - Rapid, uneven growth

Learn more


A user research roadmap with corresponding goals was developed to more effectively solve for the complexity of the social, academic and logistical problem space for both students and teachers.

User Centered Design Approach

I laid out an initial research roadmap and employed a UCD approach to discovery, concepting, prototyping and user testing.

"It's fun to look in places you haven't looked before because it makes you think more."

- 12 year old scavenger hunt enthusiast

Competitor Analysis

Competitor audits and analysis were key to identifying underserved opportunities within the school scavenger hunt market. SWOTs and marketing strategies were analyzed to create a sustainable competitive advantage.

User Research Analysis

I’m deeply passionate about user research and apply strengths in psychoanalysis and diagnostics to accurately identify the complexity of the problem space while examining patterns that offer depth and breadth. While honing in on primary pain points, solutions-based dialogues between real users were discovered, tested and ultimately validated.

User interview analysis helped elucidate key themes like:

1. Group dynamic/teamwork complexities

2. Scavenger hunt game engagement factors

"Group dynamics are tricky – some kids would rather not show up for school than be in a group."

- Middle School Teacher


  1. After completing user interviews and analysis, personas were developed to better understand, empathize with and prioritize functionality based on primary student and teacher user types. Since anxiety levels and group comfort preferences surfaced early in the research, it was imperative to highlight these factors in personas, journey maps and flows.
  1. Journey Maps & User Flows
  2. My expertise in developmental psychology helps me apply a relational yet practical treatment to journey maps. It's an opportunity to focus on, not only who the persona represents, but which goals, habits and behaviors they exhibit during a particular action or flow sequence.


Refining the “gamified SEL” scavenger hunt concept, I solved for group dynamic complexities and engagement factors while targeting benchmarks and success metrics for both individual and group level tasks.

Wireframing, Rapid Prototyping

High level functionality for student platform started paper wireframes that explored primary features of Leaderboard and Clue screens.

Several rounds of usability testing evaluated strength of concept and helped flesh out primary user flows for students.

Usability Testing Results

The test plan focused on observations, errors, negative quotes and positive quotes. The Rainbow Spreadsheet methodology (who doesn't love rainbows?) allowed me to quantify themes and served as a reference document to reflect on lessons learned.

"Teachers and advisers love creative interventions. Some sort of template would make it easier for teachers who don't have a lot of time, which is all teachers."

- School counselor

Iterative Design Sprints

Key design changes were implemented based on usability testing feedback from student and teacher users. Iterative highlights:

  1. 1. Leaderboard

  2. Problem
  3. - Point structure and functionality unclear


  1. - 50% of student participants thought the individual vs team points accrual structure was unclear
  2. - 60% questioned whether the goal was to outscore their teammates or other teams

  3. Solution
  4. - Iconography, descriptions and points accrual concept was revised to more accurately reflect team building concepts
  5. - Function renamed "Teams" to clearly reflect team building concept
  6. - Levels and badges concept was iterated on to reflect the current mission's skill competencies

2. Profile


  1. - Meeting student user needs with Profile capabilities

  2. Analysis/Discovery
  3. - 100% of student and adult participants observed during testing expressed verbal or physical delight (smile!) when navigating to Teams and Profile screens
  4. - When seeing peers actual photos/selfies (vs. avatar that was previously A/B tested) of teammates, 100% of student participants said, “I like that this is an actual picture/selfie of [my classmate].”

  1. Solution
  2. - Explore alternate Profile capabilities like student engagement analytics like points, levels + badges rather than housing those functions within Teams
  3. - Add brief age appropriate copy explaining SEL skill objective for current game and badge goals

Student Skill Building

Interplay is a cross platform web app that can be accessed in-class on students' phones or school tablet devices. Students learn about themselves and their teammates by using creativity to solve interactive multimedia clues.

Teacher Templates

Template games allow time-restricted teachers a dynamic way to engage students in project based learning. Baked-in teamwork principles like decision making, problem solving and relationship building encourage discovery. Students learn more about themselves and teammates while using creativity to solve clues.

  1. Projected Impact Goals

  2. 1. Positive classroom and school culture gains
  3. - Use the School Climate and Connectedness Survey (SCCS) to measure where students stand on 17 SEL competencies.

  1. 2. Increase academic scores by as high as 11% with school-wide SEL implementation
  2. - Read the 2017 Aspen Institute Report

  1. Success Metrics
  2. We'll know we have successfully solved for the problem when gains are validated by student post-game self assessments, participation points accrual and teacher assessments that measure students' SEL progress.