examples - design challenge

Examples In Use: Creating Design Challenges
MELS Waste Challenge
Grades 6-8
The Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School's design challenge was piloted this year
with 15 teachers participating as a 3-week process conducted in "Crew" class (a class on
group leadership). Each year it will focus on a different aspect of our school's relationship
to sustainability, and this year we kicked it off with the challenge "to invent, build, and test
ways to make MELS more sustainability when it comes to waste."
The design challenge was part of the "Crew" curriculum, a small class of 15 students with a
group leadership curriculum which every student and teacher engages in each morning.
Each "crew" of 15 students went through the full design process, including two tests, to
create a design proposal which was shared and voted on by grades.
The adjustments for next year's (or possibly next semester's) design challenge are many.
Foremost, we realized that the fast pace of the design challenge eclipsed the other functions
of "Crew" in our school for the three weeks of the challenge--we realized we would need to
create a lot more flex time for teachers to address their class's needs. Second, there is an
open question about how we address groups who develop ideas that are not able to be
implemented without discouraging their creativity. As a third major takeaway, we simply did
not allot enough time for the Storytelling phase, and the teaching of presentation.
Below is the 10 day process we outlined.
Kickoff! Introduce challenge to all participating crews.
Empathy. Students investigate the challenge through observations and interviews set by the
crew leader. This may include, but is not limited to mapping waste in a particular area of
MELS, interviewing custodians, MELS staff, older MELS students, and experts involved in the
NYC waste management system.
Define. In small groups, crews define a point of view for their design through a process of
compiling and organizing information from the empathy stage. This POV may be a
particular kind of student at MELS (ex: studious note taker), a member of the community
Examples In Use: Creating Design Challenges
impacted by MELS waste, a member of the MELS staff (ex: custodial staff), or another
relevant party.
Ideate. Crews define how might we statements (ex. “how might we help the studious MELS
note-taker to reduce her use of paper”) and brainstorm solutions ranging from long shots to
most meaningful to safe bets.
Prototype. In pairs and trios, crew members choose an idea from their brainstorm and
create, build and invent physical prototypes (low-res versions).
Test. Crews “test” their prototypes out on each other within their crew. They then modify
their prototypes.
Storytelling. Crews develop a 3-minute authentic, character-driven drama that connects
their users to their prototypes. This drama is shared in grade teams. As a crew you will
select one prototype to represent their crew.
Test: Crew will present their selected prototype to their experts and make modifications
based on feedback.
The three winning designs were submitted to a panel of building experts, who selected one
for schoolwide implementation.
This was initiated for grades 6-8. All kids did amazing, but maybe to scaffold or break up
the different pieces for the different grades. The 6th graders struggled with the define
stage a lot more, so possibly more teacher facilitation in places.
Do not do it alone! Work with others. Be flexible and willing to make changes on the fly!
It was part of the beginning of the year school/classroom orientation process.
For this redesign project, the kids read over the school rules. I assigned each of them in
small groups to focus on one of the rules. Each group then ideated on post-its more kidfriendly ways to say the rule on which they were focusing. They sorted and labeled these
Examples In Use: Creating Design Challenges
post-its and then created a new way to state the rule. They worked with a partner to draw
a prototype of a poster sharing this new kid-friendly rule, tested it
with others in the class, then created a final draft of their poster to hang up in the room
Using the brainstorming technique was a great way to get the kids completely involved in
the task.
Examples In Use: Creating Design Challenges
Tapscott Recess Design Challenge
Grades 6-8
Students engaged in a design challenge in which they studied the culture of recess on our
elementary school campus in order to design improvements to the recess experience. In
order to empathize with the recess experience, kids used post-its to record information they
gleaned from watching an episode of the cartoon Recess, listening to three early reader
books or chapters of books about recess in elementary school, and remembering their own
recess experience in elementary school. They then compiled these notes and sorted them
into categories. They used this information to create questions to ask about the recess
experience at the elementary school campus.
They then practiced observing and taking notes during a 5th grade PE class on the middle
school campus. The first interview subjects were 5th graders who are now on the middle
school campus, but who were on the elementary school campus last year and so are more
recently familiar with the recess experience than the sixth graders. Following this, we
traveled to the elementary school campus where the sixth graders observed recess and
interviewed both students and adults about their experience.
Once we returned, we worked as a class to identify areas for improvement. We identified 6
areas and the kids selected which issue they were interested in working on. At this point we
brought in a few coaches, teachers and administrators who had also attended Boot Camp
this summer. The students shared information on post-its and sorted this information to
identify a user, his or her need and their insight. Following this, they worked to create How
Might We statements to guide their designs. They then ideated possible solutions for the
challenge, chose one to develop and created a prototype of this design. They tested these
designs with each other and with 5th graders. Following time to revise their prototypes
based on the feedback, they created a 2 minute presentation for their peers and the faculty
from the elementary school campus. The video of these presentations will be shown to the
fourth graders at the elementary school.
This challenge was part of our humanities study of culture. The students have spent time
exploring spoken and unspoken rules and the behaviors that help to define a culture. This
Examples In Use: Creating Design Challenges
project required them to think about the culture of recess at the elementary school in the
context of the design challenge.
It was very difficult for some of the groups in some of the classes to create POV statements
and write How Might We's. My class did not have as much trouble, perhaps because they
practiced with the Seedfolks design challenge, which goes through the steps in an easier
If you have other adults who can act as coaches, it might be a good idea to use them for
the more complicated parts of the process, such as developing the POV and creating the
How MIght We statements.
Examples In Use: Creating Design Challenges
#Disaster Camp
Grades 9-10, 11-12
#Disastercamp asks participants to design creative solutions for disaster response. Inspired
by the 2011 Imagine Cup Emergency Response and Crowd Sourcing challenge, this course
investigates the extent to which natural disasters are ever “natural” and looks to design as a
methodology for creative problem-solving. In this five-day project, participants will engage
with each step of the design process as they move toward a final concept that leverages
social media and other tools to improve communication and coordination for disaster relief.
Day 1: Understanding the problem via a "disaster scenario" that we developed to help
students empathize with the challenges of disaster response through role play
Day 2: Researching precedents + identifying a design problem/user need via readings, Andy
Carvin's TEDxNYED talk on disaster response, and Skyping with a former FEMA employee
Day 3: After identifying a user need, students brainstormed different solutions by using
metaphors to drive their thinking (ie, what if your solution was inspired by .... fashion? a
game? etc)
Day 4: Prototype solutions in 3D and with a user scenario / Test with collegues
Day 5: Test + present solutions (discuss process, user need statement and prototypes)
#Disastercamp was a 1-week, 27-hour summer class offered twice in July 2011. Students
earned global credit for the course. Students did a number of readings about Haiti, social
media (Clay Shirky, Malcolm Gladwell) and disaster response.
This is answered more thoroughly in the video (http://roomfourzerotwo.com/disastercamp/)
but we found that students became really frustrated on Day 3 when it was difficult to come
up with a workable, creative solution. I really valued that frustration, and wouldn't try to
avoid it next time, but I hadn't anticipated it.
Examples In Use: Creating Design Challenges
This was one of the most successful design challenges I've ever facilitated because I truly
didn't know what students would invent/propose. The problem of how social media can be
used to improve disaster response is a real one, and it was exciting to engage with with.
Examples In Use: Creating Design Challenges
Design Thinking Project Titles
(Co Barry)
1. Designing reader awareness for new books
1. Design with Trash/Recycling
2. Design For a location on campus
1st Grade
1. Holiday Gift Design
2. Trash and Garbage awareness on campus
2nd grade
1. Design for a more organized classroom
3rd Grade
1. Playground redesign
2. Designing a Turkey Dinner for the family
3. Educating the 2nd graders about PCC (first overnight field trip)
4th grade
1. Designing a product for "mini society"
5th grade
1. Designing a packaging system for a new business (Math)
2. Designing an electrical system for lights out at PCC (Pioneers) - SCIENCE
1. Designing a Dream Room for a partner
Examples In Use: Creating Design Challenges
1. Design for an eco system
2. Outdoor sound garden
3.Creative play for pre-K
Middle School
1. Locker Redesign
2.Video Game Design (boys design for girls and vice versa)
3. Leadership group teaching project design
4.Introduction to middle school for 5th grade
Spanish/world languages
1. Spanish Campus Tour for perspective Spanish speaking student
2. Design a Care Package for book character
1. Trip planning for target users
1. Vocab quiz study tools
2. Designing for the Greek Gods
3. Personal expression Poetry writing
4. Maps through the eyes of Geographers
1. Designing a shoe for a partner
2.School Identity Mural
1. My CA “School” digital video project
1. World water project – Designing water systems for developing countries
2. Nutrition – Designing nutrition plan for users with specific diseases
3. Invention Project
2. Creating a modern day civil rights movement
Examples In Use: Creating Design Challenges
3. Capstone on repurposing old Barn on CA campus
1. Capstone on what it takes to be an inventor
High School
1. 9th grade leadership retreat
1. Teaching complex poetry terms
2. Essay Writing on important issue on campus
1. Visual interactive campus tour to display student work
Examples In Use: Creating Design Challenges
Design Thinking Project Titles
(Mary Cantwell)
Gingerbread Man Trap
The Secret Project
How to motivate kids to want to eat healthier- 3 different solutions
Redesign a vehicle for the 21st Century Family
Sign Language Challenge
Redesign Lockers
Redesign an independent Problem
Design Apps
Design the 21st Century Classroom
Design an Organic Garden
The Spanish Project
Designing a Trebuchet
Design a Bird Sanctuary
Redesign Playground
#World11Kids- Design an innovation that will impact your world
Redesign the Organic Garden to make it a community organic garden
Million Dollar Redesign Challenge
Designing an African Safari
The Turkey That Got Away
Insight into Middle School Challenge
Redesign the Science Fair
The Graveyard Project
The Huckleberry & Fin Reading Challenge
The Iliad/Odyssey Challenge
The Hero’s Challenge
The Gilgamesh Movie Challenge
The Wallet Challenge
The Gift Giving Experience
Design a functional Replacement Organ
The Sports Polymer Challenge
Redesign the Water Fountain
Examples In Use: Creating Design Challenges
The Mars Egg Lander Design Challenge
Redesign a water fountain
Redesign a lunch tray