Our final day began with an exciting talk by Dr. Paul Polak, founder of International Development Enterprises and D-Rev. Dr. Polak is also the author of Out of Poverty, a book that inspired the exhibition Design for the Other 90%. After his talk, Dr. Polak was kind enough to sign copies of his book for participating teachers.
But truly the culmination of the week were the group’s presentations of their Design for Necessity projects. An expert panel critiqued each group’s process and ideas. The panelists, left to right in the picture below, are Design Corps architect Bryan Bell, Dr. Paul Polak, Walker Design curator Andrew Blauvelt, designer Tom Oliphant, Ann Ledy of the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul, and Target creative director Ruth Balbach.
Problems the teachers tackled were varied and diverse, but centered on their own experience in schools. Challenges ranged from lowering the school building temperature during summer school without using air conditioning, to enhancing the bus experience, to identifying at risk students more effectively. Presentation styles varied by group and included posters, skits, and models.
Many of the participants felt this was a life changing week, and as staff we could not agree more. Teachers can now confidently take design based learning techniques into their classrooms in the coming year and beyond.