Tools for Developing Learning Skills in Children

The natural way for a child to learn is through play. For children play and learning goes hand in hand; they will benefit from learning situations that are enjoyable. By using building blocks, working with jigsaws and threading toys, and matching colors, textures, and shapes, children acquire essential skills, which enable them to learn to read, write and count.Children will invent their own games and toys, but well-designed toys can provide stimuli for exploring and discovering new things. Toys need not be expensive or complicated. The best toys are ones that fascinate a child and to which he will return again and again. Often a household item will provide your child with the kind of playthings he needs to ensure future intellectual achievement, it is not necessary to buy even one educational toy.Providing a Stimulating EnvironmentOne of the ways to encourage your child’s development is to foster creative play with an inviting environment. The way you display your child’s toys to a large extent determines whether they will be played with or not. Toys that are piled high are not inviting, whereas toys arranged into little scenes, stimulate him to sometimes even make other creative arrangementsIt helps if there are spaces to play in, particularly activity areas, like a painting table and somewhere he can splash about with water. An interesting environment should not only be confined just to indoors. If you have a garden, fill it with suitable equipment, like swing, a slide, and even a little play hill-all of which stimulates your child’s imagination


Choosing ToysParents sometimes feel frustrated when they spend hours choosing the safest, most colorful, most fun, and even educational toy for their child, only to learn that he will be clinging to his old toy. It is almost impossible to choose a ‘best toy’ for your child. The one that is best for his is the one that fascinates him endlessly, and to which he will return gaining more and more stimulation and enjoyment and will provide him the greatest learning experience.The less formed ad more basic a toy, the more possibility it leaves for a child’s imagination and may help his creativity, more than a very expensively dressed doll which can only be one character.One of the most important things to remember is that children change very rapidly, especially in the first 3 years and that a toy which entertains a two-month-old, will not entertain a two-year-old. As they develop they need different stimuli and the choice of toys must reflect these needs. The toy chosen must be appropriate for his age. If it is too good advanced then he will not know to play with it in the proper manner, and will not gain enjoyment. If on the other hand, it is too primitive, he will get bored easily. Toys must stimulate all the 5 senses-vision, hearing, touch, smell and taste.Having decided upon the appropriate type of toy for him, you must also consider a few more things. Is it completely safe? Is it stimulating? Does it have play value? Is it fun? For example, a bag of bricks is a ‘good’ toy to buy because it can be enjoyed at different ages with pleasure and will stimulate imaginative and active play. Toys that fit together or snap together teach children that they can change the appearance with dexterity.Safety is also a very important consideration when choosing or making a toy. You must not only check for dangerous design faults when purchasing them but also at check for defects at regular intervals. It is impossible to provide a child with a totally safe environment. However, you must take sensible safety precautions and satisfy his inquisitiveness with safe indoor toys. Your children must always be properly supervised and never left to play alone outdoors.Using Household Items to Make ToysYou do not have to spend a lot of money to provide him with the best toy money can buy. A quick look around the kitchen can provide your child with hours of fascinating fun.ContainersPlastic food containers are the most versatile household toys. Plastic containers of different sizes can be used for putting in-taking out games. Put a few dried pulses in a firmly closed container and you have a rattle saucepans with wooden spoons create drum sets.FoodDried pulses can be stuck on pieces of card to make kitchen collages. Vegetables like potatoes and carrots can be made into printing blocks.Paper GoodsToilet rolls with a little decoration make finger puppets. Hand puppets can also be made from paper bags. Empty cotton reels when threaded together makes a good pull toy, especially if painted to resemble a caterpillar.Avoid T.V. in Young Kids


TV has the mesmerizing and numbing effect on children and cuts them off from the direct experiences of their own world which are needed in order to develop. TV cuts down on the amount of social contact with the parent which is important for social and linguistic development.Books and ReadingA single way, in which a parent could enrich a child’s environment, is by having books in the house. Words are crucial to the way our brains function. Books provide children with words to express feelings, ideas, and thoughts. They explain the world he lives in. They provide the tool for imaginative play, introduce ideas and are fun.Try to read to your child every day, or even several times a week and preferably at the same time. Choose books that are visually appealing with illustrations. Children like photos of people, places, and events, with which they are familiar.Fairy tales are fascinating to children, and they will learn to distinguish between real and unreal. They also encourage abstract thoughts and creative thinking.The vocabulary should be easy to understand and the print big. Run your finger along the print, but do not force him to follow your finger. Make him notice things in the pictures. Re-read books for your child, especially if he asks you to. Don’t stop reading to him even though he starts to read by himself. Teach him to take care of books. Store books on low bookshelves in his room as this will encourage browsing, and always have a variety on hand.

Decoding the Ductwork Design Process, Methods and Standards

Today, one of the significant objectives in MEP engineering design for HVAC design engineers is to improve energy efficiency, maintain air quality and thermal comfort. Energy efficiency, air quality and comfort in a building depend on how heating, cooling and air distribution systems are designed and this is where careful ductwork design plays a significant role. Ductwork and HVAC system design are important as it ensures indoor air quality, thermal comfort and ventilation. If the HVAC system and ducts are not designed accurately, it could lead to poor air quality, heat loss and make the conditioned space in the building uncomfortable.

The primary function of the ductwork design system is to ensure a least obtrusive channel is provided through which cool and warm air can travel. When designed accurately, HVAC air distribution systems will play an important role in countering heat energy losses, maintaining indoor air quality (IAQ) and providing thermal comfort.

To understand how ductwork can be designed in a cost-effective and efficient manner, this article decodes ductwork design and provides a brief outline of the design process, methods and standards.

What is Ductwork?

The basic principle of ductwork design is to heat, cool or ventilate a building in the most efficient and cost-effective way. The primary function of ductwork is to design conduits or passages that allow air flow to provide heating, cooling, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).

In the duct design process, the basics of air flow must be understood. Return air goes into an air handler unit (AHU), through a filter and into the blower and with pressure it goes through the A coil or heat exchanger and then it goes out into the supply air system. If the ductwork is designed correctly it enables the AHU to produce the right amount of air through the heat exchanger. In a typical air distribution system, ducts must accommodate supply, return and exhaust air flow. Supply ducts provide air required for air conditioning and ventilation, return ducts provide regulated air to maintain IAQ and temperature and exhaust air flow systems provide ventilation.

For ductwork design to be efficient, MEP engineering design teams need to have designers with a mechanical and engineering background. Ductwork design specialists or building service engineers must also possess thorough knowledge of other disciplines such as architectural, civil and structural concepts to ensure HVAC systems are clash free.

The Ductwork Design Process

The ducting system design process is simple, provided that the specifications are clearly mentioned and the inputs regarding application, activity, building orientation and building material are provided. Based on the information provided calculations can be completed to create an energy-efficient and clash-free design. Typically, air conditioning and distribution systems are designed to fulfil three main requirements such as:

• It should deliver air flow at specific rates and velocity to stipulated locations.

• It should be energy efficient and cost effective.

• It should provide comfort and not generate disturbance or objectionable noise.

The process of ductwork design starts once architectural layouts and interior design plans are provided by the client or MEP consultants. Building service engineers then require specification requirements such as application, the number of people, the orientation of the building and architectural characteristics to make calculations on heat load and air flow. Before any calculations are carried out, single line drawings are drafted to showcase the flow of ductwork in the building. Once they are approved, calculations for heat load and air flow are conducted. Once the heat load calculations are complete, the air flow rates that are required are known and the air outlets are fixed. With the calculations, specifications and layout, the ducting system design layout is then designed taking into consideration architectural and structural details of the conditioned space and clashes with other building services such as electrical, plumbing (hydraulic) and mechanical services.

To start the ductwork design process there are inputs required regarding details about the type of application, specification requirements, building orientation, architectural characteristic and material.

• Application type - Ductwork design will vary based on the type of application the building will be used for such as manufacturing, data centres, medical applications, scientific research and comfort applications such as restaurants, offices, residences, institutional building such as schools and universities.

• Specification requirement – To create an efficient duct design, designers need to know what type of activity will be conducted and the average number of people that will use the conditioned space. This will help in calculating the air flow, velocity and heat load required to maintain temperatures and IAQ. In comfort applications, for instance, an office or restaurant will require different duct design and air velocity than a residence.

• Orientation and material of the building - The orientation of building and material used plays a key role in gauging heat absorption which will help determine the cooling and ventilation requirements. Based on whether a building faces north, south, east or west, and where it is geographically located, heat absorption can be calculated. The type of material used for construction also affects the amount of heat gain and loss of the building.

The challenges of incomplete inputs or non-availability of required inputs are discussed in an upcoming article on Ductwork Design Challenges and Recommendations.

Ductwork Design Methods

Ductwork design methods are usually determined based on the cost, requirements, specifications and energy efficiency standards. Based on the load of the duct from air pressure, duct systems can typically be classified into high velocity, medium velocity and low velocity systems. There are three commonly used methods for duct design:

1. Constant Velocity Method – This method, designed to maintain minimum velocity, is one of the simplest ways to design duct systems for supply and return air ducts. However, it requires experience to use this method as the incorrect selection of velocities, duct sizes and choice of fixtures could increase the cost. Moreover, to maintain the same rate of pressure drop in duct runs, this method requires partial closure of dampers in duct runs (except index run) which could affect efficiency.

2. Equal Friction Method – This conventional method used for both supply and return ducts maintains the same frictional pressure drop across main and branch ducts. This method ensures dissipation of pressure drops as friction in duct runs rather than in balancing dampers. However, like the velocity method, partial closure of dampers is required and this could lead to noise generation.

3. Static Regain Method – This method commonly used for large supply systems with long ducts is a high velocity system that maintains constant static pressure before each branch or terminal. While this is a balanced system as it does not involve dampering, longer ducts may affect air distribution to conditioned spaces.

While different duct design methods used vary from application to application, duct system performance and system balancing and optimisation need to be considered. After the air handling unit (AHU) is installed, the system needs to be balanced and optimised to enhance performance. In system balancing and optimisation, air flow rates of supply air outlets and return air inlets are measured, and dampers and fan speed are adjusted. Especially in large buildings, balancing air conditioning systems may be expensive and time-consuming, but it is required as it provides benefits that outweigh the cost incurred in installing the system. To minimise total and operating cost, many optimisation methods are used as such as the T-Method Optimisation described in the DA3 Application Manual of AIRAH (Australian Institute of Refrigeration Air Conditioning).

To design air distribution systems that are energy efficient and cost effective, HVAC system designs must include basic engineering guidelines and adhere to certain design standards. Let us consider some of the guidelines and standards used in the industry in different countries.

Ductwork Design Standards

When designing air conditioning systems, HVAC design engineers must be knowledgeable about the basic methods, guidelines and standards applicable, from the type of units used, calculations required, methods of construction, type of material, duct system layouts, pressure losses, duct leakage, noise considerations to optimisation using testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB). Listed below are some of the standards organisations and associations in the U.S., U.K., Australia and India, that provide manuals, codes and standards for the HVAC industry.

U.S.

• SMACNA (Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association) – It provides a manual on HVAC systems duct design that includes basic yet fundamental methods and procedures with importance on energy efficiency and conservation. While the manual does not include load calculations and air ventilation quantities, it is typically used in conjunction with the ASHRAE Fundamentals Handbook.

• ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) – It is an association that emphasises on the sustainability of building systems by focusing on energy efficiency and indoor air quality. The ASHRAE Handbook is a four-volume guide that provides the fundamentals of refrigeration, applications, systems and equipment. Updated every four years, the handbook includes international units of measurement such as SI (systems international) and I-P (inch-pound).

U.K.

• CIBSE (The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers) – is the authority in the UK that sets standards for building services engineering systems. The Codes and Guidelines published by CIBSE are recognised internationally and considered as the criteria for best practices in the areas of sustainability, construction and engineering.

• BSRIA (Building Services Research and Information Association) – is an association that provides services that help companies enhance their designs to increase energy efficiency in adherence to Building Regulations, mock-up testing of systems and BIM support.

Australia

• AIRAH (Australian Institute of Refrigeration Air Conditioning) – provides technical manuals for professionals in the HVAC industry and information ranging from air conditioning load estimation, ductwork for air conditioning, pipe sizing, centrifugal pumps, noise control, fans, air filters, cooling towers, water treatment, maintenance, indoor air quality and building commission.

India

• BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) – is a national authority that provides standards and guidelines as per the International Organization for standardisation (ISO). The handbooks by BIS stipulates the code of practices applicable to the HVAC industry such as safety code for air conditioning, specification for air ducts, thermostats for use in air conditioners, metal duct work, air-cooled heat exchangers and data for outside design conditions for air conditioning for Indian cities

• ISHRAE (The Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers) – provides indoor environmental quality standards and testing and rating guidelines based on common IEQ parameters standards and criteria for the classification of buildings based on energy efficiency.

While HVAC design engineers must keep relevant standards in mind and ensure that local codes are applied in designs, energy efficiency is a primary objective as well. Ductwork design plays a significant role in regulating indoor air quality, thermal comfort and ventilation. The key function of ductwork design is to provide the least obtrusive channel through which cool and warm air can travel in the most efficient and cost-effective way.

Inaccurate duct designs could result in poor indoor air quality, heat loss and uncomfortable conditioned space in the building. A well-designed air conditioning HVAC system will ultimately optimise costs. By regulating pressure loss, selecting the right duct size, balancing air pressure and controlling acoustics, ductwork designers could optimise manufacturing, operational, environmental and commissioning costs.

 

Designing Fast Food Retail Interiors

There was a time when fast food was all about being fast and cheap. It was a new enough concept and so convenient. So convenient in fact that fast food retailers built their entire outlet, buying experience, service levels and food standards to satisfy the ‘fast’ and ‘cheap’ needs of customers. And it worked! Fast forward a few years and improved education about nutrition, the need to eat healthy meals and also the vast amount of competition in the market has meant that fast food chains have to completely change their approach to adapt to the new needs of the 21st century consumer.

The focus is now on delivering a stronger brand to reach a broader base of customers that they want to linger around and make the outlet part of their weekly or daily routine. So, what does the new brand focus require? Well it needs to demonstrate freshness, good quality ingredients, an improved buying experience, a nicer seating ambience, better comfort, more visibility of food preparation areas and improved conveniences.

While the ingredients and the quality of food are obviously a key and vital component of the brand, this article focuses on the architectural and interior design of the outlet and how the various elements of the interior design impact the brand and therefore elevate the customer experience for modern fast food chains.

Before we consider the design of fast food chains, it is worth looking at how luxury goods retailers and vehicle showrooms have approached outlet or store design to deliver their brand. Luxury brands for example have always designed stores to captivate distinct segments of the market, yet maintained a sense of delivering individuality. Luxury stores almost distinctly appear to be lacking in the amount of merchandise that is displayed and in some cases maintain plain colours and simple soft furnishings to make customers feel at ease. Vehicle showrooms are an established example for retailing as they have mastered the buying and ongoing servicing needs of customers in a single outlet. The way that showrooms are designed, allows vehicle manufacturers to provide an environment which allows them to manage the flow or ‘journey’ from buying a new car, arranging finance, servicing and shopping for parts, while having pleasant and well stocked waiting areas. Both are examples of building outlets that manage distinct needs, encourage loyalty and provide a smooth journey from the initial desire to purchase to sealing the deal.

For architects and interior retail designers, fast food retail design poses a number of challenges that need to be addressed in order to reinforce the new brand challenges that retailers are faced with.

The following provides a summary of some of those challenges:

Food Preparation – Providing more visibility of food preparation areas, including open plan kitchen areas. This requires a practical but also visibly more pleasant food area which is well lit, well organised and efficient. Specialist kitchen design that takes into account the food cooking and preparation process is called for, requiring designers and architects to work closely with a retailer to create kitchen layout plans that allow the food preparation process to remain efficient while remaining visibly pleasing and pleasant for customer to see.

The Eating in Experience – The need to provide an efficient seating arrangement, with comfortable seats, while also paying close attention to retail lighting plans and retail flooring plans is so important as it allows customers to feel that they can stay for while, this is in sharp contrast to early fast food restaurants where seating was designed to become uncomfortable after fifteen minutes, encouraging people to leave the outlet.

Fixture and Fitting Selection – Interior retail designers also need to focus on other consumer needs such as power points, interactive devices for children and adding artwork that reinforces the message about the ‘fresh food element’ – all important elements that the brand is trying to deliver.

Interactive Ordering Solutions – Retailers are also incorporating electronic ordering stations into their layouts to allow customers to select and pay for their order without speaking to a member of staff. This requires less staff of course but it also calls for the need to design a retail layout that allows for interactive kiosks that are strategically located within the design of the outlet.

Improved Washroom Facilities – Retail designs and architects have to design washroom facilities that meet brand expectations. The facilities that they specify have to reinforce the brand while maintaining a high degree of cleanliness or even ‘self-cleaning’ facilities. The retail design drawings that they create for plumbing and waste have to take into account today’s environmentally.

Back of House and Waste – Customers are not happy enough with the experience that they can see and feel, they also want to know how fast food chains are managing their staff facilities, their food storage and their waste, including the customer’s own packaging waste. A store design is not complete without attention to how these aspects are added to the design of the outlet and how they are managed efficiently and fairly and therefore they are also an important part of the design team’s responsibilities.

The designers challenge is therefore vast and rather than allowing for the production of the design using traditional 2D plans and elevations. The only way to manage and communicate the design process as well as manage changes requested by stakeholders throughout the process, is to use modern design tools such as Revit Architecture to create retail BIM models so that they can create a design that is easily changeable and manageable. Retail BIM modelling also allows for the use and re-usability of Revit families and models that can be used for subsequent stores and therefore ensure some brand consistency as well as design efficiency. Once created, these retail BIM models will also allow the creation of 3d retail images and 3d rendered perspective for retail interiors as well as retail exteriors. These are an important and effective way of communicating the store or outlet design during the various design stages that a designer is responsible for.

Whilst the challenge for fast food retail is to provide food quicker and cheaper than other options, there is good reason to elevate the importance of the store design and how that will affect and ultimately promote the overall brand experience for fast food retail now and well into the future. Managing that design process and the multitude of design inputs is a collaborative and involved process and is one that is served by a designer that is prepared to use CAD and BIM technology as the backbone for delivering a design solution that is easy to create, manage, share and communicate.

 

What Is UX Design?

User Experience is a conglomeration of tasks focused on optimization of a product for effective and enjoyable use. User Experience Design is the process of development and improvement of quality interaction between a user and all facets of a company.U ser Experience Design is responsible for being hands-on with the process of research, testing, development, content, and prototyping to test for quality results. User Experience Design is, in theory, a non-digital (cognitive science) practice but used and defined predominantly by digital industries.

Introduction to UX Planning
The easiest way to approach the planning phase for UX projects is to determine the approach you think ought to be taken for a project, then examine the constraints and amend the approach based on these constraints. This should enable you to determine budgets and timescales if they weren’t given to you by your potential client beforehand. UX projects that are well planned are easier to execute and offer a higher chance of succeeding than those that are managed on an ad-hoc basis For designers working in the ever-changing field of user experience, it’s always important to consider the fundamental principles of design. At many levels, the nature of the work that we do constantly shifts and evolves-whether we’re designing for new technologies or different contexts, ranging from apps for personal use to cross-channel experiences. When we’re called upon to solve design problems that we haven’t solved before, design principles provide a sound basis for devising innovative solutions. All of these trends have required us to look at design afresh and come up with new interaction models, design patterns, and standards-many of which are still evolving.

Visual design trends shift as well-sometimes for the better; sometimes not. For example, in the recent past, we saw the prevalent use of small, light-gray fonts that were both too small and too low contrast for good readability-for almost anybody, not just those with serious visual deficits. Now we’re seeing bigger fonts-solving that readability problem. UX Design Principles course provides foundational level skills for those interested or working in user experience design. The workshop covers aspects of designing for web, apps, and mobile. This UX workshop is suitable for designers, business analysts, product managers, and developers. No UX or design previous experience is required. It serves as the foundation for the UX Classes as well as the UX Certificate program at American Graphics Institute.

What is UI Design?
User Interface Design is its complement, the look and feel, the presentation and interactivity of a product. But like UX, it is easily and often confused by the industries that employ UI Designers. User interface design (UID) or user interface engineering is the design of websites, computers, appliances, machines, mobile communication devices, and software applications with the focus on the user’s experience and interaction. UI Design is closer to what we refer to as graphic design, though the responsibilities are somewhat more complex. Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) integrates concepts and methods from computer science, design, and psychology to build interfaces that are accessible, easy to use, and efficient. There are three factors that should be considered for the design of a successful user interface; development factors, visibility factors and acceptance factors. Development factors help by improving visual communication. These include: platform constraints, toolkits and component libraries, support for rapid prototyping, and customizability. Visibility factors take into account human factors and express a strong visual identity. These include human abilities, product identity, clear conceptual model, and multiple representations. Included as acceptance factors are an installed base, corporate politics, international markets, and documentation and training. There are three fundamental principles involved in the use of the visible language.

Do’s and Don’ts of UI and UX Design
User experience online is very similar to the user experience you get when going to a grocery store. You want a pleasant time without any hassle. You want to be able to navigate the store quickly, get what you need right away, head to the checkout line without a wait, and get back home. You don’t want to deal with a slow cashier, items not where they should be or out of stock, hostile employees, or a crammed parking lot. You simply want what you came for (groceries) and be on your way. Stores understand this and have spent a considerable amount of time and money to help you navigate the store easier, make sure items you want are in stock, and to provide fast and friendly checkout lines. It may seem a bit corny to think of UX design in terms of going to your local grocery store, but the experiences are similar. Our customers are visitors to the sites we create, and the groceries are the content in which they came to the site for. For those of us who go to the store, it’s easy for us to pinpoint things that irritate us or think should be improved. However, when it comes to our own designs and user interfaces and the creation of them, we may not be able to point out these irritants ahead of time before users do. We can fix this by taking a step back and look for these weak points in our design, so that we don’t cause them unnecessary frustration and keep them on our site so they can get to the content they were looking for. To help us designers step back and look at our designs and user interfaces from the eyes of the visitor, let’s run through some do’s and don’ts to look out for so we can help them get exactly what they came for without irritation or a bad UX.

1. DO: Provide a similar experience regardless of the device Visitors are coming to your site using many different types of devices. They can visit your site on their desktop or laptop, tablet, phone, music player, game console, or even their watches. A big part of user experience design is ensuring that no matter how the visitor sees your site, they are getting the same experience they would if they were to visit from another device. This means that if a visitor is seeing your site on their phone, they should still be able to find everything they need without trouble just like they would if they were viewing your site on their desktop at home. A seamless experience across all of your devices helps keep your users on your site regardless of the device they are using.

2. DO: Provide instantly recognizable and easy-to-use navigation The key to providing a pleasant user experience for users is to understand that they are in search of content. They want information that you are providing on your site. The way they get there is by using your site’s navigation to quickly get to the content they are looking for. Provide a user-friendly navigation system that is easy to recognize and easy to use. Design your navigation in a way that gets visitors where they want to go with the least amount of clicks as possible while still being easy to scan and locate where they need to go.

3. DON’T: Letting the design of the site hinder the site’s readability The design of a site or user interface should never interfere with the user’s ability to consume the content on the screen. This includes having busy backgrounds behind content or poor color schemes that hinder the site’s readability. Busy backgrounds cause a distraction and take attention away from the content, even more so if the busy background is directly underneath the content. In addition, be careful not to use color schemes that decrease the contrast of the typography on the screen (i.e. light gray type of a white background). Focus on the typography of your site to ensure issues such as line length, line height, kerning, and font choice doesn’t pose issues for readability.

4. DON’T: Hindering a visitor’s ability to scan the screen As I mentioned above, users and visitors alike often scan the screen quickly before settling in to read any one particular thing with focus. Users often scan for visual cues such as headings, pictures, buttons, and blocks to know where they should focus their attention. If you start removing these items, it makes it hard for users to scan your content to find what they are looking for. Using appropriate headings that are easily seen, pictures to illustrate points, buttons for navigation, and blocks of content that are unique or important help users scan the screen to find what they need.