Primary and Secondary Research | UX Exploration | Usability Test | UX proposal | UI Design| Implementation  | Deployment

Group Project

Jialu Li (Design) |

Hsing Liu (Tech)


Figma | CTAT


3 Weeks

My Contribution

  • Uncovered insights to inform design decisions.

  • Conducted user and usability research.

  • Designed instructional content.

  • Led ideation sessions and defined the concept.

  • Executed design from scratch to high-fi.

  • Implemented key interactions with tech lead.

  • Visualized research insights and presented it to client.


The purpose of this team project is to make a CTAT tutor for Professor Vaishnav’s students in the graduate level Climate Change Science and Adaptation class. In this tutor, learners will do hands-on calculations for Earth’s equilibrium temperature, in the case when there is no atmosphere, 1 layer, and 2 layers of the atmosphere. The steps of the tutor might correspond to calculating the solar power output, energy flow in and out the planet system, and the equilibrium temperature. The calculations are intended to reinforce their higher-level understanding of the effect of CO2 on the climate. Therefore, we may also try to incorporate some interpretation and self-explanation tasks. Since there is another group working on the same topic, we plan to further discuss how to split the tasks between the two groups.


Global warming and climate change are in the center of the debate nowadays. Claims are polarized that some states global warming is a natural process, while the opponents claim that actions must be taken before it is too late. People tend to perceive climate change as very complicated and difficult to understand. But in fact, the basic mechanism of heat balance is not so out of reach. One way to understand the greenhouse effect is by considering a simplified multilayer atmosphere model, where the atmosphere is presented as multiple fixed layers of perfect black bodies, but the energy from a star completely passes through them.

This corresponds to the behavior of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, just that the real world is a lot more complicated. However, such as model is enough to give us some intuition of the greenhouse effect.

Project Objective

By building this tutor, we hope to help the students understand the n-layer radiative transfer model that gives them an intuition of why the temperature is rising. By going through the tutor, the students should understand how energy balance between the planet surface and layers of the atmosphere. The student may also come away with a better understanding of the basic mechanism underlying man-made climate change. 

Professor Vaishnav mentioned that he would like the students to be able to explain the greenhouse effect, but students often don’t gain a good understanding through lectures alone. We hope our tutor will provide helpful pre-test practice to bridge that gap.

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step 1.jpg

Step 1:

Select Correct Representation

Step 2:

Find Control Volumes and Write Equation for Energy Balance

Step 3:

General Representation for N layers