Plant & Animal Cells

An adaptive learning tool to teach elementary schoolers about plant and animal cells.


requirements gathering -> low-fidelity prototyping -> concept validation -> curriculum writing -> asset generation -> high-fidelity prototyping -> usability testing -> production


Kate Mattison, Jeremy Murphy, Desiree Stanley, Fang Cheng, Parth Shah, Mark Ritterhoff


2015 / 6 months

Problem Statement

It can be tricky to teach elementary schooler about cells. This is because real cells are too small to be seen and simplified models of cells obscure a number of the most interesting features of them. Ordinarily, a textbook contains only a couple of cell diagrams, and they don't expose students to the breadth of cell diversity in the living world.


IXL Learning created adaptive lessons that allow students to interact with cell models as they learn about them. The lessons are focused on asking students to access their prior knowledge of cells, ostensibly from their science textbooks, and then expanding this knowledge using interactive elements and tidbits of cool information.

Selected Assets

A selection of assets from the prototyping process are presented here. To try the product live, go to: (1) Label parts of plant cell diagrams, (2) Label parts of animal cell diagrams, or (3) Identify parts of animal and plant cell diagrams.

[Figure 1] A simple graphic showing different tracks along the adaptive learning tool.

[Figure 2] A question showing a click-to-select interaction.

[Figure 3] A video from the live product showing a progression through a skill with click-to-select interactions.

[Figure 4] A question showing a drag-drop interaction.

[Figure 5] A video from the live product showing a progression through a skill with drag-drop interactions.