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Designers in Schools

Friday, December 1, 2017

Architect Andrew Ferrarelli speaks to students at Tilden Middle School

What an inspiring week it has been!  Today concludes Compete 360’s first-ever Designers in Schools Week, where professional designers from the fields of architecture, graphic design, landscape architecture, product design, UX design, 3D modeling, and exhibit design visited our DT Philly teams.  It was exciting to see how each of these professionals uses design thinking to solve challenges in their own work.

The visiting designers were generous with their time and expertise, sharing their own creative processes and experiences in addition to discussing the students’ DT Philly projects and offering guidance as our teams work on the research and ideation stages of their design challenges.

Mrs. McAdams’ teams at Lincoln High School made good progress with their mind-mapping exercises after an informative presentation from Graphic Designer Kelly Shofner.  Ms. Shofner recently graduated from college with a major in graphic design and was able to share advice with the 12th graders about her career path.  Also at Lincoln, Ms. Magasich’s teams learned about the wide range of jobs someone like 3D modeling specialist Daniel Brown is involved with—from the design of building interiors for places like an NBA arena, to park design, event design (for the papal visit!), and window displays.  Mr. Brown travels the world to teach people how to use SketchUp, a 3D modeling tool you can use for free.  He even gave Ms. Magasich’s class an introductory lesson.

Mr. MacQueen’s teams at Mitchell School participated in fun exercises to learn about the design principles a user experience designer follows when creating things like apps.  Designer Peter Fleming demonstrated that empathy and being attentive to specific users’ needs are at the core of the work he does, and he went on to assist the teams in thinking through how to use empathy in their own projects.

At Grover Washington, Mrs. Griffith’s teams had the chance to design their own parks in an activity led by Landscape Architect Bob Gray.  In this sketching activity, students used the symbols and graphic elements that a landscape designer would use to create a map for a project.  Mr. Gray also shared the design thinking process he went through to create a plan for a school playground in Northeast Philadelphia while he was studying landscape architecture at Temple University. 

Ms. Hundley’s team at Disston School visited with Industrial Designer Eric Schneider.  Students learned that almost every object you see around you has been created by an industrial (or product) designer—your desk, shoes, toothbrush, computer, toys—everything!  Mr. Schneider shared sketches and renderings he and his graduate students at Jefferson University use to test and communicate ideas visually, and in turn the Disston students shared their DT Philly problem and research findings with Mr. Schneider.  Ms. Banaszak’s teams at Shawmont School also met an industrial designer, Porsche Jackson, who specializes in creating exhibition displays.  Ms. Jackson talked about the experiences she and her colleagues try to create to draw people into their exhibits and showed the students how they can use the same software she uses to create 3D models of different spaces.  

Several architects also participated in Designers in Schools Week.  At Kensington High School, Mr. Cruz’s team met Architect Kent Doss who walked the students through the process he used to design an award-winning pediatric healthcare facility in New Jersey.  Mr. Doss shared videos of interviews conducted as part of his research to find out what parents, patients, hospital employees, and the community want and need.  Following a design thinking process helps Mr. Doss and his colleagues think outside the box with regard to what a hospital should look or feel like.  Mr. Delp’s teams at Penn Treaty were also visited by an architect, Ian Smith, who shared the creative process he used to design a green schoolyard at Adaire, just a few blacks away from Penn Treaty.  How cool to meet people who have designed places and things right here in our own city!  Architect Andrew Ferrarelli spent a morning with Mr. Turner’s and Mrs. Padgett's teams at Tilden Middle School, explaining how he used the DT process to convert a historic synagogue into a university performing arts center while preserving its use as a place of worship.  Mr. Ferrarelli drew parallels between his process and the one the students are using to solve their DT Philly challenges, and he also helped Mrs. Padgett’s teams complete a design sprint activity.  Our final visit of the week took place at Longstreth School when Architect Michael Spain, who grew up a few blocks away from Longstreth, visited Mr. Rocco’s teams.  Mr. Spain broke his design process down into three stages—imagine, create, and realize—and went on to explain what he did in each of those stages on a Philadelphia School District project, the design of Abraham Lincoln High School!  Mr. Spain shared that his favorite part of being a designer is that he gets to imagine a solution to a problem and one day it becomes something real that he and others can use and experience.  

Thank you to all of the designers and teams that took part in Designers in Schools Week!