Quark: STEM Education Kit for the Space Enthusiast


MANRVA: Juliah S. Champion, Kanapat Tittayanukrak, Nisachon Kumlue

My Role

Lead Designer & Art Director


Blender, Substance 3D Painter, Illustrator, Photoshop

The Brief

The foundation of space education lies in STEM, but it is also crucial to acknowledge the underlying problem of traditional (STEM) education approaches in Thailand, which can occasionally fall short in effectively engaging students and more so discourage Thai people who are interested in Space Exploration to pursue for the stars.

Our aim is to uncover a fresh approach in STEM instruction that can effectively steer individuals towards exploring the untapped potential of the Space Sector, especially for Thailand and the South-East Asian countries. Additionally, we strive to provide accessible STEM education options that transcend the constraints of traditional teaching methods.

Interviewing the Thai Space Sector

To gain deeper insights into the underlying issue of the slow growth of the space industry in Thailand, we have actively engaged with Thai science communicators, government officials, and entities operating within the space sector. We discovered that access to space technology remains elusive, and there is a lack of effective communication regarding its potential impact on the future of Thai citizens. During our interviews, we had the opportunity to speak with a young professional working in the space sector who shared their perspective:

"When I think back to my Science book from school, it only covered basic astronomy topics like the solar system and the first space race, and that was about it."

This statement highlights the limited exposure and educational resources available concerning more advanced aspects of space exploration, indicating a potential gap in space-related knowledge.

Meanwhile our conversations with professionals within the industry, including SpaceTech investors and Space policy makers, we also uncovered a common realization. It became evident that there is an ongoing race to discover an efficient way to harness space technology, push for new creative innovation, enhance accessibility, and effectively communicate its myriad benefits to a broader audience.

Target Audience

From the outset, we recognized the need to create multiple types of toys catering to different audiences to gauge their responsiveness and identify potential customers. Our primary target demographics consist of two groups: parents of 6-12-year-olds and young adults aged 18-25 years. By crafting various toy designs for these specific segments, we aim to determine which offerings resonate most effectively with each audience, helping us refine our approach and better understand the preferences of our potential customers.

STEM learning meets Thai subculture

Recognizing that effective communication and fostering interest in space requires more than just scientific knowledge, we have undertaken a comprehensive exploration of Thai subculture.

In 2021, the Thai art-toy (designer toy) industry witnessed a remarkable upsurge, propelled by its unique and unconventional designs, the integration of technology in toy design, the limited availability of products, and the thrill of unboxing collectible toys. These pivotal factors have sparked widespread interest among the public, artists, designers, and art toy production companies, leading to a vibrant and burgeoning market that inspired us to jump-start our own venture.

By actively investigating the current trends and popular phenomena in Thailand, we aim to discover new avenues to engage and inspire people.

The inspiration and the story behind "Quark"

The name "Quark" draws inspiration from the fundamental particle that serves as a building block of matter. This choice reflects our commitment to establishing a solid foundation as we strive to bring about positive change within the industry.

We want to tell the story of how Quark is set to be one of the first companion pets for Astronauts on their deep space voyage, a scientific exploration into the stars. However, Quark mystically ends up on the moon and is now slowly adapting its life alongside other astronauts at the Lunar station and becomes the most fascinating living creature that ever came out of scientific experiments in space.

Dive into design and 3D Modelling

During the initial design phase, we focused on crafting the base of the art toy, considering three distinct shapes: rectangle, hexagon, and circle. After careful consideration, we have decided to move forward with the circular design as the chosen form for production.

While our sketching process has been predominantly non-technical, we have dedicated substantial time to hands-on experimentation using Blender. Nevertheless, our approach to experimentation and design is driven by careful contemplation of future applications and considerations for efficient production implementation.

With the final foundation selected, we proceeded to model various other components of the design, including the Spacepot, Spaceship, Quark, and additional decorative elements that will be included in the art toy set. Throughout the 3D modeling experimentation, we developed three unique products: Lunar Loop, Arrival on Luna, and Space Cruise. Among these, two products were categorized based on their user-friendliness, while the third product's main focus was on aesthetics, making it unsuitable for production.

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Texturing with Blender & Substance 3D Painter

In the Quark Space Education Kit, the final color of the Quark model will remain the original color of the material, which can be either gray or brown. However, our team has also developed our own unique color scheme to showcase the potential appearance of the Art toy when interacted with by the user. In our texturing process, we experimented with Procedural on Blender and crafted entirely new textures using Substance 3D Painter. Delivering an outstanding concept art that we can use for future advertisement.

Each design is categorized based on user-friendliness, and the final color is also influenced by this consideration.

For instance, the Lunar Loop model will feature a combination of Mint-green and Gray, as it is the simplest to paint. On the other hand, designs like Arrival on Luna or Space Cruise lean more towards hard surface painting, requiring more extensive knowledge in painting or airbrush techniques. These color choices are crafted to enhance the user's experience while creating their unique art toy, making the process enjoyable and rewarding.

Let's Interact with the 3D Model
on your right.

Here, you have the freedom to interact with the 3D model in the digital space. Feel free to click, swipe, rotate, and zoom in or out to explore its intricate details from every angle.

Packaging design inspired by Big Bang

In our packaging design, we initially considered featuring Quark cruising in the solar system. However, we decided to take a more captivating approach by embracing the concept of Quark as the fundamental particle, symbolically illustrating the Big Bang theory instead. The side of our box now showcases a depiction of Quark gracefully cruising through the beginning of what is believed to be "our existence," accompanied by illustrations of Quark floating through each angle of the design.

The final 3D rendered

To prepare for our advertisement campaign, we’ve created several realistic rendering images of Quark, along with other elements like name cards and a space education booklet.

Prototype to Production

For our initial prototype, we opted for Resin as the perfect material for 3D printing due to its ability to deliver a smooth texture and impeccable finish. We wanted to create a high-quality representation of our design. Taking matters into our own hands, we completed the first prototype in-house, enlisting the expertise of a close friend who specializes in 3D printing.

We have produced a total of 9 resin material prototypes, comprising 5 pieces measuring 5x5 centimeters and 4 pieces measuring 4 centimeters each.

While we are content with our resin-based prototype, we also recognize the potential benefits of exploring alternative materials and collaborating with a specialized toy production company. By doing so, we can access superior printing technology, materials, and finishing options, ensuring an even higher-quality final product for our Quark Space Education Kit.

In addition, we conducted extensive experiments with acrylic color ratios to ensure the perfect Mint-Green color for Quark, closely matching our 3D rendered image.

Space Education Booklet and
Space Pin

Within our kit, we have crafted and included a small booklet filled with information about our moon. This addition not only empowers our users to explore their creativity through our toys but also presents a wonderful opportunity to delve deeper into the mysteries of our universe.

We also had the idea of including something special for our buyers. Hence, we decided to handcraft a unique Quark plastic pin to be included in every kit.

The final finished product

Here's the presentation of our finished product. The primary toy material we've used is ABS-Like, which gives the final product a delightful vinyl art toy feel. One of the significant advantages of this material is its high-quality 3D printing, which requires minimal effort in polishing.

The result is a toy that closely resembles one you'd find in a mall, providing a fantastic tactile experience.

Adults are buying!

In our initial test-run, we produced a total of 20 sets: 10 Lunar Loop and 10 Arrival on Lunar. To our surprise, during the launch period, we observed an interesting trend. Out of the Lunar Loop edition, only 3 sets were purchased for children (age 10), while the remaining 17 sets were bought by adults aged between 25 and 35-40 years old. Interestingly, the majority of adult buyers were opting for the duet toy set.

It’s interesting to discover that the adults are seeking a new medium for experiencing Space education through toys. This trend highlights the appeal of our Lunar Loop and Arrival on Lunar sets. It signifies a significant shift in how adults embrace playful and immersive methods to expand their knowledge of the cosmos.

This insight is something for us to look into to develop more innovative educational toys, fostering a deeper connection between enthusiasts of all ages.

Interested in working with me?

MANRVA © 2023 Designed by Juliah S. Champion