This display was built for a study in which children’s responses to cause and effect were observed.  The goal was simple: have a large, easy-to-press button that caused “something” to happen immediately when pushed and to stop immediately when released.

We decided that it should have an aquatic theme so the “something” in question turned out to be dancing sea horses, waving seaweed, and jumping fish.  You can see the large buttons on the front of the display.  These were placed so that they would be easily accessible to toddlers.  The green, yellow, and blue buttons control the displays they are in front of, while the two orange buttons each illuminate the cabinet.  (That was part of the study – would children notice that the same-colored buttons do the same thing?)

For an explanation of the technical workings, please Machina Designs.