We agreed with the project’s underlying statement that “design represents the purest form of creativity and offers, given the right encouragement, the best conditions for learning interdisciplinary thinking.”
Therefore, using design as the basis for our approach, students were first asked to identify an everyday life challenge, research it and then brainstorm ideas around how to use technology – in this case an app – to find a solution.
Over the weeks, in teams, the students worked on their ideas, testing and prototyping different approaches. In this time there were ups and downs in regard to forming their ideas, but it made them realize that we can learn a lot from mistakes and that they actually provide a source of information.
Different IXDS designers and experts would come to the school every week and help them with sketching, technology, and taught them how to use different tools to create click and paper prototypes.
In addition to the school visits, IXDS held a “smart everyday helpers” one-day app and prototype workshop at our space, which involved 26 students from the Schule an der Jungfernheide.
The success of this project was multi-faceted. Initially, many of the students were uncertain about their capabilities. But as the weeks went on, within the groups, many of the individuals starting discovering skills and strengths they were unaware of. The girls were given a new perspective on technology, breaking down any preconceptions that it was something more boys. Their enthusiasm also grew over the weeks, with many students working on their projects in their free time and creating business plans around their ideas.
What was also interesting is that when working with each other and the IXDS team, students were confronted with real-life challenges. For instance, some designers only spoke English (communication is indeed a common work challenge), and they found ways to overcome this. Although they were shy about their own English skills to start with, when putting it into practice, they became much more confident.
In the end, the students had tangible results that they could be proud of, they learned new skills such as problem solving, team work, and technical processes, discovered new talents, and had a great time doing it.