Case Study

Explore
Data Science

Envy used the breadth of space and the excitement of a video game to teach Python for statistical analysis.

Mark Kendall Nick Walsh

Project Details

The Client

Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the world’s most successful management consulting companies.

Booz Allen Hamilton

Project Goals

  1. Retrain thousands of employees in a shifting industry

    When BAH predicted the profession of data scientist replacing the role of data analyst (they were correct), they needed a new tool to enhance training for thousands of their own data analysts.

  2. Set a new standard for data science training

    BAH wanted to cover knowledge gaps in training, with hires coming from pure statistics backgrounds, or pure computer science backgrounds, or everything else in-between. A new tool could lay a solid foundation for both new and existing employees, and set a high standard for internal training. It would also garner the attention of new hires looking to gain an attractive new skill.

  3. Teach in the most engaging way possible

    Even learning something as dry as data science with Python can be fun and entertaining when video game elements are blended with narrative storytelling.

Research + Prototype

Theming

While BAH created course content, we focused our energy into making this as fun as possible. Different themes from Space Oregon Trail to sports to microbiology were tossed around internally. In the end, a spaceship-building, space exploration theme won. Space always wins.

Initial concepts

Sketches

For about as long as Envy had been around, we’ve been designing and building better interfaces for education (such as Code School). There were a lot of new interactive ideas we had been saving for the perfect project, and this was the perfect opportunity.

Wireframe sketches

Long-format Challenges

One new idea was the idea of a long-format challenge that combined the best parts of readable, scrollable content with interactive challenges precisely where needed.

Long-form content wireframe

Gamification

Keeping attention is a challenge for any educator. When you combine solid content with fun elements—collectible items gained by beating levels and a team leaderboard to compare scores—you get an unforgettable experience with depth and playfulness.

User profile wireframe
Design + Build

🎵 A Whole New World 🎵

Thanks to the D3 visualization library, exploring a new universe felt a little more real than staring at flat images.

Six Planets, Six Learning Milestones

The login experience is something to behold: instead of presenting users with a boring array of chapter titles and lesson plans, we show them a whole solar system to explore.

Interactive Long-format Challenges

We tried something new for this project, to great success. What initially starts out as a content-first, long-format display easily transitions in-and-out of a Python executor. So you get the best of both worlds: excellent readability with full code execution similar to what we built for Code School.

Deep Environments

Each level of Explore Data Science has a different theme from the last, from Earth-like environments to inhospitable lava planets to undersea planets, memorably distinguishing chapters apart from one another.

Planet detail view

Achievement Screen

The goal of any learning experience to walk away with an understanding of the concepts taught. But it sure doesn’t hurt to throw in an emblem maker, cargo bay, and personal achievements screen. Different things motivate different people, and we have the I-just-want-that-100%-trophy people covered too.

Achievement badges
Deliver

Results

Retraining & Onboarding Improved

With the launch of Explore Data Science, Booz Allen Hamilton was able to significantly boost their training quality for new and existing employees. BAH went from a scattered training model to a much more unified one, even being able to track employee progress and completion across the entire organization.

Became an Industry Leader 👑 in Data Science Training

The platform became even more popular than Booz Allen Hamilton possibly anticipated, resulting in a 2015 SXSW Interactive Innovation nomination as well as an eventual sale to Metis in early 2016. This validated BAH’s investment in the data science profession as well as the quality curriculum they prepared for training.

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