Taking on the Teenagers - Using Adolescent Energy to Reduce Energy Use

Lead Research Organisation: University of Central Lancashire
Department Name: Sch of Comput Engin and Physical Sci


This research proposal aims to investigate, develop, and evaluate mobile solutions to reduce teenage energy use. It actively involves teenagers in the project as design informants, evaluators and researchers.Taking on the Teenagers - Using Adolescent Energy to Reduce Energy Use is a three-year project that aims to investigate the use of digital technology to change the domestic energy-use behaviour of teenagers. The underlying research hypothesis is that teenagers can, if instructed and informed about their energy use in an appropriate way, be instrumental in changing not only their own behaviours but also in changing the behaviours of those around them . Research questions that arise from this hypothesis are How can teenagers be best informed and instructed? How are appropriate technologies for teenagers designed? and How can behaviour change be measured and evaluated? These questions will be answered during the research work. The project will deliver digital products; designed to be cool and interesting to the teenagers, one is aimed at the younger teens, one at the older segment - and both will go through two iterations of design and evaluation. The project will show how use of these products, and associated web based materials change the attitudes and behaviours of teenagers, especially with respect to use of electrical appliances in the home. Using a mixture of participatory design methods, expert design methods and learner-centred design methods, the team will create products that operate in three ways - they will educate teenagers about energy use (by the use of specially created content and methods), they will inform teenagers about energy use (by the use of power-use data from metered devices in the home that is transmitted wirelessly to the product and displayed in a meaningful way) and they will empower teenagers about energy use (by allowing teenagers to enter and submit their own data about energy use and their own stories and blogs about energy use). The products that will be delivered will use web-based technology, mobile phone technology and wireless sensor technology. In addition to the technical products, the project will also deliver a validated and well understood method for measuring changes in teenage behaviour and a framework for developing instructional / informative material of this kind, as well as an understanding of teenager attitudes and a collection of stories and reports that provide a rich qualitative source of information for scientists.The project is unique in that it will actively engage with teenagers throughout the work. In an early stage of the project a story-gathering web-portal will be used to find out the opinions of teenagers about energy use. This 'blog' will continue throughout the lifetime of the project and will allow researchers to investigate changing attitudes. Teenagers will work closely with the design teams to add their designs and ideas to the intended products and will then be engaged in evaluating and testing the products as they are built. Workshops will be held with teenagers to develop learner materials that will be directly fed into the products that are being developed and also populate an accompanying web site. In the last phase of the project, 40 teenagers will be invited to a research summer school where they will be instructed in research skills and will then work with the academics in gathering and interpreting data from the field trials of the products that have been built during the earlier phases.Throughout the project the emphasis is on the applicability of the lessons learned to the general energy debate. Regular workshops will take place with industry representatives, and an industrial advisory board will be formed. At the end of the project the team will deliver a dataset to industry that shows the habits, attitudes and behaviours of teenagers and provides, for the industry, a unique view on teenage energy habits.

Planned Impact

Teenagers will be major beneficiaries of this work. The teens recruited for the trials will all benefit from understanding more about their energy usage, will learn to save energy, and will understand the implications of their actions. The project is committed to developing the products on common platforms (common mobile phone operating systems and the internet) and releasing these to all, so almost anyone interested in learning about energy saving can use the software thus benefiting a wide population of teenagers. By designing products in a modular manner, teenagers will be able to benefit whether they have access to many, one or even no sensors, since they can still manually enter energy use, and share their stories and habits. It is hoped that the competition and open access to the software will inspire a wide community to a greater interest in energy saving, and so we hope to create wide societal impact as well. Teens directly involved as researchers will also be trained in scientific techniques and methods. They will be engaged and motivated to act as scientists and informants, as expert participants, not as passive recipients, gaining confidence, a questioning mindset, and a motivation to be engaged in major policy and sustainability issues. Energy companies will benefit in four ways. First, they will have access to a new useful resource of rich qualitative and quantitative data about teenage energy use. Secondly, they will have access to the novel devices and will be able to examine their effectiveness. Thirdly, at the dissemination workshop, numerous design concepts, design rationale and prototypes will be available. These can feed into their exploitation mechanisms and research & development programmes. Finally, these companies will get access to future decision and policy makers, and find out more about their attitudes to energy and its usage, saving and reshaping. To ensure this happens, we have invited a major energy company onto the advisory board, and have easy access to the Supergen Flexnet consortium of major energy and utility companies. Sensor companies will benefit: by understanding more about the sorts of devices that are critical to teen energy use and so will be enthused to develop specialist and general sensors to provide information cheaply and easily. By understanding how to engage the teenagers and how to represent energy use, sensor companies can develop their own displays to encourage energy saving. The companies will also have access to IPR and knowledge gained in the project to inform and expand their own competencies. To facilitate this, we have invited a major provider onto the advisory board, and representatives from that and other companies will be invited to attend the stakeholder and dissemination events. The University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership, instrumental in major initiatives like the Copenhagen Summit 2009, has been looking for ways to engage with the leaders of tomorrow. They consider our project presents an ideal opportunity, as it focuses on the teens as competent, active participants and experimenters, to pursue their aims. They are on the advisory board, and will contribute ideas and activities from policy and the business community: they are experts at driving forward a sustainability agenda, and relish the opportunity to gain access to such a wide base of teen users. Mobile phone companies and network providers can also benefit: they are looking for hooks into the teenage market, and novel devices that offer environmental benefits to all are an ideal route to achieve this. They can therefore take relevant IPR and data and exploit it effectively. Three of the investigators have strong links with companies such as Nokia and Vodafone (one being a Scientific Advisor to Nokia) and will use these contacts to disseminate information: these companies will also be invited to attend the stakeholder and dissemination workshops.
Description We have studied how teenagers talk about energy and energy use and have worked with them to design new products. In that process we have firmed up new methods for researching with teenagers and have also studied how to design for teenagers specialising on how to design COOL into products. This study has had us working with over 600 teenagers. We have also put a lot of work into seeing how to engage with teenagers as scientists in enquiry as well as into provoking discussion about the ethical involvement of teenagers in ICT research.
Exploitation Route Our work on COOL has been written up into a book and can surely be then used by any others researching teenagers.
We have also firmed up and published on the ethics of involving teenagers in design and on the role of them as scientists in HCI research.
The MAD product - which is a POD using 3D printed casings and an ambient display is being demonstrated at tech-innovation events and could be appropriated by others.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Energy,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism

URL http://www.mad4nrg.org
Description Our findings on designing for teens in terms of cool have been recently used in the IT industry. We also used the opportunity of the award to further understand the best way to work with teenagers in participatory research. A book has been developed based on the project and on other research from TeenCI Methods developed in the project have been used in a six week school STEM project at Ribblesdale School Clitheroe in 2018.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal

Description The ABCD approach to working ethically with children in ICT research and development
Amount £5,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2012 
End 08/2012
Title Primed design - a participatory design approach for use with teenagers 
Description This is a method to design for the internet of things that we have developed for use with teenagers in schools. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This has lead us to better understand how to talk to children in schools about design. It is currently scaffolding a technique to teach maker tech to high school pupils 
Title check1 and 2 
Description This is a tool for examining ethical practice ahead of doing participatory work with teenagers. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2013 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This has spawned a new debate in the CCI community and HCI community about research participation. It is being featured in the UXPA magazine. 
URL http://www.chici.org/ethics
Description Collaboration on teen UX research with U Oslo 
Organisation University of Oslo
Department Institution of Informatics
Country Norway 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Research work from TAKTeen was used in the thesis of Dr Somerville's work and also in the work by her supervisor. UClan hosted a visit fro the researcher from Sept to Nov 2015.
Collaborator Contribution They have contributed a chapter to the Teen Research book coming from Takteen; they are funding a visit of Prof. Read to Oslo. Margaret Sommerville who was first introduced to us at one of the Teen workshops within the project, came to spend three months at our lab in the UK.
Impact Chapter in teen book - soon to be published by Springer - edited by UCLan member Dan Fitton and Northumbria member Linda Little
Start Year 2015
Title MAD device 
Description We created a physical pod that feeds from a wireless connection to a electricity sensor in the home. The pod houses a phne and runs software created in co-design with teenagers. The system includes an arduino board to drive ambient lighting 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact We have not yet written up the outputs from the deployment or the design of this except that it derived from design sessions with teenagers. 
URL http://www.mad4nrg.org
Title The cool wall 
Description Modelled on the Top Gear Product. The cool wall was developed to better understand cool with teenagers. It was deployed in schools in a kiosk installation. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact The wall gas been used more recently to carry out evaluation studies 
Description Lancashire Science Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact At the Lancashire Science Festival the Takteen products have been showcased and teenagers have been recruited for further engagement in ongoing studies. We now have a set of Teen Informants for our work
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015
URL http://www.lancashiresciencefestival.co.uk
Description Scientists in the SU 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact This was a 'thank you' style event for one of the main participant groups from the research. We brought the children from a lower socio-economic secondary school to the University and explored the findings of the project with them.

The teacher said the children had probably been stimulated to think about science as a result of attending this event. He commented that very few might have even thought about being at University but that this had changed their thinking.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
Description TEDx talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was a TEDx talk in Rochester, upstate New York, on how to design technologies for teenagers and children in the future. It was a bringing together of ideas on teen (and child) UX from the Takteen project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://tedxtalks.ted.com/
Description Teenagers as Scientists event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact We invited 250 children from local schools to discover what we had been doing in the project. We also engaged with them in science activities so they acted as scientists interrogating data

The school expressed a wish for us to follow this on with an annual event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.uclan.ac.uk/news/local_teenagers_test_energy_consumption.php