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About Sonia

Hello Sunshine!

Who am I?

My name is Sonia Rajendra Tiwari

A fancy interview was published by Creative Gaga magazine in 2019, in case you wanted to read that instead!

I'm originally from Indore, India.

I'm a Visual Designer turned Learning Scientist, currently a PhD student at Learning, Design, and Technology Department at Penn State. I've previously worked as a Game Designer and UX Designer in CA, and taught Toy and Game Design at National Institute of Design, India.

I've lived a somewhat gypsy life in India (Indore, Mumbai, Ahmedabad) and US (San Francisco, Redwood City, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Santa Clara, and now State College - also known as 'Happy Valley'). The question "Where are you from?" often confuses me, because I've felt a great sense of belonging to every place I've lived in. 

What does "Soniastic" mean?

I often sign/watermark my art with the name 'soniastic' - it came about in art school where I was in awe of all the amazing talent around me. I always thought I might never be as fantastic, but I can try to be 'soniastic!' Two teachers who immensely helped me value my individuality as an artist are Tom Bertino and Sherrie Sinclair from Academy of Art, San Francisco.

The challenge that makes me stronger at design

Growing up Dyslexic, Design Industry has been a great place to express my thoughts and ideas visually! Dyslexia also helped me develop the habit of over-preparing, organizing and simplifying complex information in order to learn smoothly - which comes in handy as a researcher. 

Research Interests

My primary research interest is designing and evaluating Media-Supported Maker activities for K-12 STEM Education. 

My studies are funded by the GA Fellowship at PSU's World Campus, where I've been fortunate to work on developing original STEM educational games. Once the games are developed (including UX, UI, Visual Design and Content Design), I look forward to analyzing the game interaction data, student interviews, questionnaires and surveys, to see how these game-based modules could better benefit future online programs. 

My other ongoing research is in on analyzing how Public Media for Early Education (PBS Kids TV Series and Games) aligns with State Standards of Early Education.

I absolutely love designing/teaching/researching Maker Activities. I particularly like working with LilyPad Arduino, 3d printing, designing educational board games and puzzles. I had the pleasure of working on PSU's pop-up Makerfaire and designing an AR Art for the Keller Art Gallery. 

Who am I outside work?

Outside of work I'm generally busy doing creative activities with/for my son like painting, crafting, sewing, cooking healthy food disguised as something fun, trips to the library and other such mom things. I wish I had a cool hobby to describe here like surfing or para-gliding, but weekends are for chill-n-chores. Mostly laundry. Welcome to mom world, yay!? I sometimes write songs and play Ukulele. 

I'm known to bring up '30 Rock' references in my everyday conversations, which I think is one of the best shows ever. I'm Liz Lemon's Indian sister. Sitcoms have helped me laugh my way through many difficult times - perhaps this is why I embrace humor in my everyday life!

Keep in touch, maybe?
For any possible design and/or research collaborations write to soniastic at gmail
I try to regularly update my LinkedIn, you can follow me there for work updates!