Design Thinking for 8th Graders

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Back in October, we had an exciting and atypical opportunity arrive at our front steps — twenty 8th graders eager to learn about design thinking! Peer Insight was fortunate to host students from Merry Hill School Sacramento for a mini-design thinking workshop. The challenge they set out to tackle was the cafeteria experience, and boy did the students have a lot of ideas! My colleague, Mike Deem, and I introduced the students to the following core principles of design thinking:

Mike and Jimmy review the emotional highs and lows of the students' dining experience.

Mike and Jimmy review the emotional highs and lows of the students' dining experience.

  • Brainstorming via Trigger QuestionsWe asked the students 1) How might Snapchat solve this problem? 2) What if the cafeteria was an amusement park? 3) What if the cafeteria was open 24 hours?
Students begin to dot vote for their favorite ideas following the brainstorm session.

Students begin to dot vote for their favorite ideas following the brainstorm session.

  • Hero’s Journey. The students fleshed the details of their favorite idea by writing a story about a protagonist (the hero) and the challenge they are encountering to convey the “So What?” of their solution. 

The energy of the 8th graders was contagious and it was sometimes hard to keep up with all of their fun ideas! We recently received an update from their teacher and the students are hard at work prototyping their ideas. The class also took their parents through the same process and scenario that we did! Better yet, they've started rearranging the cafeteria! 

It is so exciting to see design thinking being applied to non-business cases. We often associate design thinking as a way to unlock innovation for a company but it is equally powerful to understanding the uncommon sense in our day-to-day activities.

Have you applied design thinking to your daily activities lately? Share them with me @jimmy_tran

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