Hacking the School

Get ready for another fun blog post about what is happening in IDiploma. Last week the Gates cohort, including me, worked in small groups to find a problem, space, or object at school and hack it to fit a need. Before starting our search for a problem we did a few activities as a group like See Think Wonder or Sharpie hacking a space on paper to get us ready for the observing and thinking we were about to do. After groups would go out into the field and observe things happening around the campus. Noticing that bags laying around campus had become a problem we decided to take that and come up with a solution for it.

One thing that surprised me about the way we went about coming up with ideas during the project is that we didn’t just start shouting out ideas to each other and pick the best one, we actually started with writing down a bunch of questions about what we had seen and how a solution could be found. This actually really helped us come up with a more creative idea because it makes you think instead of just jumping to conclusions. Finishing the question map, Catherine and I came up with an idea. Instead of just adding shelves for people to put their stuff in, just make “drop zones” on the floor with duck tape or paint for people to put their bags. Put them in places where people already put their bags too so the students still have the freedom to put their stuff down there.

On Friday everyone presented their ideas. One group wanted to make another outdoor lunch area on the grass in front of the football field, another made a backboard for a recycling bin so people could shoot paper into the bin better, others came up with a playground but for high schoolers, and another wanted to make the lunchroom more flexible for standing and sitting. After everyone presented people gave feedback and asked questions about each other’s projects. I’m still learning to take feedback as a gift whether it be nice or constructive, and getting an opportunity to give it again helped remind me of this.

The most surprising thing about the past week to me is how ideas come about. It’s not the way you might think, in a brainstorm session where people shout out ideas to each other and then a eureka moment happens. The best ideas can come from observing what’s happening around you and asking yourself and others how you could solve that problem. Also sharing things you come up with to someone else can make a good idea turn into a great one. At first, Catherine and I had two separate ideas. I was thinking about doing something with the “hot spots” of the bags and backpacks, and she was thinking about creating an open space where people could just drop their bags but be out of the way. We put our two halves together and got a whole. I’ve learned that ideas come around in way different way than most people perceive it, and sharing your ideas and insights may be the best way to create a breakthrough.



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