We’ve gotten some incredible feedback from the experiments we ran in the middle school the past few weeks. The technical “design challenge” has come to an end but part of my team and I have decided to take this much further. Yesterday we presented to faculty in the Middle School about partnering with them to pilot a more professional project development program. Our plan is to spend November and December working with an expert (or experts) to learn and develop a professional product development process as well as take the enormous amount of feed back that we got in our first round of experiments to create a second iteration prototype. Then, starting in January we plan to implement a new prototype each month through March getting feedback along the way. After March, our goal is to produce a final product that we can implement during events in the summer and the following school year.

We understand however, that this plan is not something that is set in stone. We may find when meeting with a professional that we need to take a different approach. We may find that we’re solving for the wrong problem and have to start all over again, but this is all just a part of the Design Thinking process.

We received a resounding “YES” from those that we presented to and can’t wait to embark on a more professional design process!


Wait. This thing actually works?

We have completed our first prototype and have begun testing it with our users in the Middle School. Let me just say that this thing is ugly. It’s functional but its not the cleanest looking thing. For this iteration we weren’t focused on making it look pretty yet because we wanted to make sure it worked. So when we put it into one of the Middle School classrooms to test it last week, I was concerned that we would get a lot of feed back about the aesthetics. But, what we got was feedback and results we never would have anticipated.

Let me begin by explaining what and how we are testing with our users. We wanted to gain both quantitative as well as qualitative data for experiment. To get quantitative data, I set up a Makey-Makey system that counts each time the recycling bin was opened. We figured that since there wasn’t a recycling bin in the first place, any opening would be a win and did not set a goal. The Makey- Makey system uses an electric current on a circuit that connects to a computer. When the door of the bin is closed, the circuit remains open and the current can’t flow, but when the door is open, it closes the circuit, allowing the current to flow. When the circuit closes, it sends a signal to a computer telling it to “click”. Each click adds one to a counter, thus counting the amount of times the bin is opened. For our qualitative data, we chose to interview students, the teacher of the classroom, as well as custodial staff on their opinions about the new system.

So flash forward. The bin has been in there for two days and we go to collect the counter. The bin had been opened 30 times! But that data didn’t tell us much. The interviews on the other hand gave us much more than we expected.

We asked students if they noticed the bin and their thoughts on it. Many of them said they were intrigued by it and it made them want to use it, while others still didn’t care. The teacher of that classroom told us that the bin made him feel more responsible himself to insure that waste was going into the proper bin. He said that when he saw students throwing something away he would try to correct them if they weren’t doing it properly. Often times students were curious to learn more about recycling. These are all good results for our test, but no one mentioned anything about the way it looked. The only thing students had to say about the design was that it might have been too big. When we interviewed the custodial staff, we got something even more valuable than feedback on the design. We got results on the way it changes the room as a whole. They told us how when they went to clean the classrooms at the end of the day, the one with our prototype was the cleanest one there. It appeared that students were more likely to throw things away now with the new bin. Students weren’t just recycling more, but they were keeping the room cleaner by just throwing things away more!

We wanted to test this interesting hypothesis more. So we moved it to another classroom to see if that room becomes cleaner too. We kept the prototype in that room for two and a half days and got 63 openings! It was nice to see that it was used even more. We have yet to conduct interviews with that teacher or find out if the room was cleaner.

We got amazing feedback from this test so far, with some we didn’t expect to get. But the result that means the most to us is that yesterday morning, a teacher on the other campus requested our prototype! We had considered that having other teachers be interested would be a good result, but figured it wasn’t likely yet. We were all so excited about the overwhelming excitement we’ve gotten from the Middle School teachers.

We ended up moving the prototype to the new campus yesterday and we can’t wait to see what results we get there as well!

Our next steps are to begin making our second iteration prototype and prepare to pitch our plan for the recycling system to the Middle, Upper, and Lower school!

Learning So Far

I would consider myself to be relatively well versed in Design Thinking. No, I’m not an expert, but I’ve been in Innovation Diploma for a year and I think I know the ropes.

This is what I would have said before starting this design challenge. I know the steps, the processes, and the buzz words that go along with Design Thinking, but until I really dug deep into this challenge I had never seen myself using it for something I was truly passionate about. At first, I was a little skeptical about the challenge. We had about a week first time around to come up with our first “prototype” and I wasn’t happy. I was really passionate about redesigning the way we recycle, and I felt like we had barely pin pointed the problem yet. So when the day that our first prototype was “due”, I wasn’t happy about it because it wasn’t “done” yet. Through my many years of school, I’ve always been taught that when things are due, they have to be “done”, but that is so incredibly wrong for Design Thinking.

By having us quickly get something together, it really helped get the juices flowing. I thought it would be a road block having to just put something together. I also thought that by producing something we would be moving entirely away from the empathy stage. But I was wrong.

I gained more insight and understanding about our issue by being pushed to “ship” our idea so quickly. I could have interviewed for a few more weeks to get more information, but what ended up happening is that I got the same amount of information simply by throwing my thoughts into some popsicle sticks and hot glue in hopes that people would be able to see what I was thinking.


This crude little model of popsicle sticks and hot glue actually provided a lot of insight into our first prototype, which really hasn’t change much from this.

So there are a lot things that I’ve learned from this challenge so far. Like the fact that you can’t recycle things with food on it, and that duck tape is really the answer to everything. But the thing that I’m taking away that goes beyond the details of this challenge is that we can get so bogged down by a process, or the concept of something being “done” that we are afraid to just get our thoughts out there for people to see. Yes, it was scary and rough having to get over the fact that the prototype really wasn’t ready in my eyes, but it showed me so much more about our challenge than any interview or observation could have done. Sometimes our best work isn’t the kind that we spend the most time on. It’s the work that has the most heart in it.

The Importance of Design Thinking in School

As someone in the college applications process and an Innovation Diploma student, how the a school teaches its students is very important to me. It’s refreshing to see schools that focus on thinking out side of the box and using design thinking because most of the schools I’ve come across only care about what your SAT scores are and your grades.

Design Thinking is important, and is (or should be) the back bone of education. Without it, learning is meaningless because there is nothing to put that knowledge into. Design Thinking provides personal connection to learning and helps students take ownership of their work instead of doing it because they have to. And isn’t that what we want students to do?

What Do You Want to Be Known For?

To be known is something that we all desire. We want to be known, but more importantly we want to be loved.

For me I want to be known as someone who showed love especially when its hard. I want to be known as someone who can listen and empathize. I want to be known as someone who understands. I want to be someone who others can rely on.

As a senior, everyday I face the issue of what I want to be in both the literal sense and the metaphorical sense. Where I want to go to college, what I want to study, and what I want to do are questions constantly on my mind. Often times, I find myself wanting to be known for my academic achievements, or my athletic achievements, or even my musical achievements. But never, do I contemplate what I want to be known for after all of the things I think are important no longer matter.

So maybe, its time that I take a step back and think about what I want to known for to the people that matter and less about the silly thinks I think matter.


If we could control our legacy,

What would it be?

Would it be bold?

Would it be great?

If we could control our legacy,

I would want it to be bold

I would want it to be great

I would want it to be more than just a memory

I would want it to be more than just a story,

I would want it to be a feeling

If we could control our legacy,

I would choose to love,

and not to judge

I would choose to stay,

and not to leave

I would want to be the one,

Who chose love

If we could control our legacy,

I will choose to love,

and not to judge

I will choose to stay,

and not to leave

Because maybe, just maybe,

We do control our legacy

Growing Up

As my second semester of Junior begins, I’ve been asked questions about where I plan to go to college and what I hope to do with my life, as if right now my life hasn’t actually begun. For some reason society has created this strange time where teenagers are expected to be fairly “grown up”, yet are looked at as though their lives have not begun because they haven’t gone to college or joined the “real world”.

I was challenged today for AP Lang to write a post with the prompt of a few questions to choose from, one of which being “How do you grow up and become who you really are?”. I found this one intriguing because it was A) something very relevant to being in high school and B) I found it kind of bothersome. Does this imply that you aren’t who you actually are until you’re grown up? So what does that make someone who isn’t “grown up”? Shouldn’t we be who we are our entire lives?

At this moment in time, you are the oldest you’ve ever been. Now, a second later you’re even older. So why then do we try to pin point a time in which we are officially “grown up”? Being “grown up” implies that it is the end of growth and maturaty. Much like learning, we have attempted to create this false time in which it ends and is complete, which is far from the truth. We never stop learning. So if we’re always learning, how can we then stop growing? How can we reach a point when we’re “grown up”?

I’ve been posed with the question of what I want to do when I “grow up” many times. When I was younger this question excited me, but now that I’m older it makes me wonder, am I not supposed to be doing something now? Am I not living my life currently? Why is it that society assumes that life doesn’t really begin until someone’s graduated from high school or college and started a career?

Just because I haven’t been to college or started a career, doesn’t mean that I’m not who I am. I’ve been myself my entire life. I may have matured and learned new things over the years and my interests may have changed, but I’m still the same person. The little girl who wanted a pet ostrich to ride to school is still the same girl I am today because what truly makes you, you, isn’t what you do, but how you do it.