This semester, I tasked my “iExplore” class with finding a problem around campus. (This was modified from Allen Distinguished Educators-“52 Minute Challenge”). Then, we used the Design Thinking process to empathize, interview, brainstorm, and prototype ideas.  Students documented these problems via pictures and notes, bringing them to class to share out. As a group we discussed the problems in small groups getting down to the “why, why, why?” for the true problem. We shared out problems out as a group. Each student was able to choose the two problems that interested them most. As a class, this left us with 7 problems to focus on. We broke into groups around those problems and began our brainstorming.  Students worked together for the next several weeks interviewing, prototyping, getting feedback, reiterating, and eventually presenting their prototypes. Below are the problems students solved for and their prototypes:

Group 1

Problem: Being on a 600 acre classes with buildings spread far apart, it is often difficult to get to classes across campus on-time.

How might we create sustainable, entertaining, faster ways to get to travel across campus?

Nick and Gavin’s prototype:

Group 2

Problem: Classroom chairs are uncomfortable and outdated.

How might we update classroom chairs to incorporate modern technologies and comfort ?

Emily, Stephen & Isabelle’s prototype:

Group 3

Problem: The classrooms on campus get too hot and everyone prefers a different temperature to be comfortable/happy.

How might we rethink heating and cooling in the classroom?

Alex and John’s prototype:

Group 4

Problem: While canoeing on our 4 day canoe trip, students arms get tired and we have a lot of gear in the canoes.

How might we rethink the traditional canoe so that it is more comfortable to travel in on long camping trips?

Will, Daniel and Sandor’s prototype:

Group 5
Problem: “Smart” Boards are old technology.

How might we create a better learner experience with technology in the classroom?

Laurens and Avery’s prototype:

Group 6

Problem: Using too many paper towels is wasteful.

How might we dry our hands in a way that is conservative to the environment?

Maia and Zakiyah’s prototype:


Group 7

Problem: Organization of papers is difficult, especially in a digital world.

How might we develop a system to organize physical papers when we get them?

Jack and TJ’s prototype: