Christina Onorato

BFA | Visual Communication Design


Hello! I am Christina Onorato, a BFA Visual Communication Design major with a Business Economics minor. I grew up exploring the beautiful, rolling hills of New Milford, Connecticut, where I gained a deep love for nature’s beauty and a profound respect for the animals that share our ecosystem.

To me, design is a special language that bridges many boundaries. It encourages us to interact and engage with others, it creates memorable experiences, and it can even give us a new perspective on the world. There are opportunities for design all around us, and that is one of the reasons I love it. In my thesis, I challenged myself to focus on institutions that work to educate, do research, and conserve nature. Besides design, I enjoy taking long walks, singing, drawing, and experimenting with new baking recipes.


Ecopass is a design intervention that launches interactive educational experiences for visitors at zoos/aquariums by engaging them in activities and adventures throughout the institution. After conducting many interviews with visitors, particularly adults with children, three commonalities emerged in response to the question “What constitutes a positive zoo/aquarium experience for your family?” The best visits feature a shared experience between parents and children, an active experience for all, and personal encounters with wildlife. Ecopass promotes these three missions by creating a brand new experience for visitors at zoos and aquariums. The Ecopass system consists of two elements – the wearable “Ecopass,” and the “Ecopad” sensors. This is how it works: Ecopads are set up in specific locations throughout the zoo/aquarium, and when an Ecopass comes into contact with an Ecopad, it triggers a special effect. Ecopass teaches visitors about the wildlife they are seeing, including their habitats and how to protect them. It also serves to redirect the visitor’s attention toward the living animals in the exhibits. Zoos and aquariums are often used by parents as an exciting way to educate and spend time with their children, so Ecopass is a great tool for enriching families’ experiences together. Ecopass activates different effects for each age group so there are fun and immersive activities for everyone. Ecopass invites visitors to engage in the lives of wildlife, and to share the ecosphere.

A child with an Ecopass would start their interactive adventure by finding an Ecopad and touching their pass to the pad, triggering an exciting outcome such as hearing the animal’s sounds, revealing their tracks, or lighting up a hidden fact, among other special effects. The child would be rewarded with stickers and, after completing all the Ecopass adventures, earn a special prize selected by each zoo/aquarium.

Ecopass: Unlock the Ecosphere