Design Build Challenge: Define to Ideate

We’ve been working feverishly. Empathy building and Defining our challenge…those aren’t easy things. They take time and heart, and wording a challenge for a real-life client is fraught with “what if I forget…” or “how could I ever…” type statements that instill doubt and hesitancy. And yet, how productive and important is this struggle?! Crafting these point of view statements is a complex problem to be solved, and it also frames a complex solve we will be solving. It’s thrilling, daunting, and utterly engaging. Here’s Julia’s take on it all:

Julia, Junior

These past few days my group and I have learned a lot about a man named Sixto who is a loving father and teacher. The Build Design Challenge tasked us with observing and building empathy for our client which was an eye opening experience for me. I was looking into someone else’s life who was struggling with things I have never had to deal with before such as health issues, lack of economic freedom, and compactness in a community.

During the “cluster” stage of the challenge I worked with a group of six classmates, compiling our insights about Sixto. We wrote each of our insights on post-it notes and categorized them on a large poster. The most prominent categories were community, health, gentrification, family, and teaching. We used those categories to create point of view statements representing Sixto’s needs and conflicts. 

Today in class I worked on the next step, ideating, with my small group. This required us to choose a point of view statement and start brainstorming ideas that would help Sixto. It was not very difficult for us to choose a point of view statement, because the conflict that stood out the most was Sixto’s lack of space in his community and neighborhood.  After doing so, we used our point of view statement to come up with around 15 possible solutions to provide Sixto with a more comfortable lifestyle for him and his family. Some of our ideas were very random and wouldn’t be the best solution for him, however we were able to combine a bunch of them to create a rough sketch of an ideal neighborhood and community for Sixto and his family that would give him space to live comfortably. This sketch includes a lot of greenery, a park, playground, rec center, garden, walking paths, etc. My group and I cannot wait to start the prototype for this design. 

But I also found myself questioning whether it was important for this design to be realistic and affordable for our client. After talking to Mr. Heidt, I gained clarity that for the moment it didn’t matter how realistic this design was, because it was just about brainstorming all possible ideas. I know I will likely struggle with keeping an open mind and thinking about multiple options before choosing one for sure, because this idea about a spacious community has been in my mind the entire challenge. Moving forward, I am excited to start bringing these designs to life and creating visuals and prototypes for them. There are definitely some nerves about presenting the project in front of people, but I have faith in my group that we will be able to successfully capture the needs of Sixto in a well-thought-out design. 

Published by Garreth Heidt

Designerly Minded High School Humanities and Liberal Studies Teacher Faculty Mentor FIRST Robotics Team #7414--PV Retrobotics. Constantly learning, trying to be more a maker and less a consumer of culture. I believe in the infinite value of a liberal education and the power of design thinking to help make the world a better place.

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