Many DT Philly teams tell us that distractions to learning are a problem in their schools. The Striped Lions—a team of 5th graders at Laura H. Carnell School—impressed us by exploring systemic as well as behavioral factors when they tackled this problem for their 2017 DT Philly project.
The team asked, “How might we prevent students from running in the halls on the 3rd floor at Laura H. Carnell so learning can continue taking place in the classrooms?” During their research, these astute young designers observed that the 3rd floor hallway (which they nicknamed “the hall of doom”) became noisiest after lunch, specifically between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. The team identified students who were likely to leave their classrooms without permission and spoke to them, learning that these students think it’s fun to run in the halls and knock on other classroom doors as they pass by.
Using the design thinking process, the Striped Lions developed a two-pronged solution to their challenge. First, they designed a hall monitor program in which students who follow the school’s honor code and meet other leadership standards would be trained to perform this function at key times to help keep the hallways safe and quiet. When testing this idea, the team found that the student hall monitors were more effective with a teacher present because some students would run away or speak rudely to the student monitors. While they found a few kinks to work out, the team decided this solution is worth pursuing in the coming school year.
The Striped Lions also realized that the problematic behavior occurred during prep periods when students were with someone other than their regular teacher. The design team brainstormed consequences for poor behavior as well as ways to keep students engaged in their classrooms, and they also analyzed the prep schedule. They concluded that changing the schedule would reduce the number of classes that were simultaneously without their regular teachers. Creating a new prep schedule that worked with lunch periods and other needs was challenging! But the Striped Lions persevered and found a way that met with the approval of the teachers.
The team shared that they had a lot of fun doing DT Philly. One of their favorite activities was an empathy exercise, where students wrapped their hands to limit their mobility and attempted a series of everyday tasks that are challenging for people with arthritis.
So what’s next? The Striped Lions see other problems in their school that they’d like to address with design thinking, like improving conditions in the school bathrooms. We hope to have these young designers join us next year and continue to use their creative problem solving skills!