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A College-Prep, Independent Day
School for Grades 8-12


From the Academic Dean: Designing the Future
Posted 01/22/2015 11:13PM

In order for artists to evolve and improve, they need to, as Samuel Beckett said, “Fail. Fail Again. Fail Better.”

I first became interested in design thinking while studying architecture at Cal Poly. Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, had not yet published his “Design Thinking” article in the Harvard Business Review nor written his book “Change By Design” and David Kelley, founder of IDEO, had not yet led the creation of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University (the d.school) nor written, “Creative Confidence,” but I was schooled in the studio model and left with valuable, transferable skills. That learning centered on certain axioms, such as the form of a space should follow the function of a space, and the user’s experience in a space should inform the design of a space.

In 2011, York funded my attendance at a summer professional growth workshop, Design Thinking Studio, led by a group of designers from a Bay Area group, Lime Design, two of whom currently are associated with Stanford’s d.school. That experience was rooted in human-centered problem solving, radical collaboration, empathy interviews, stoke, and it was the catalyst for my co-founding in 2012 iLead+Design (a partnership between York, The Middlebury Institute of International Studies and The Lyceum of Monterey), which seeks to provide local teens community-oriented learning experiences anchored in design thinking and creative leadership. Teenagers are key stakeholders in our local communities and, when given meaningful opportunities to engage in authentic community challenges, they will contribute innovative and viable solutions. Over the past two summers, York students and alumni participating in iLead+Design, have designed innovative solutions for The SPCA, Surfrider Foundation of Monterey, the City of Monterey, The Monterey Bay Aquarium, Animal Friends Rescue Project of Pacific Grove, and Santa Cruz’s Save Our Shores.

Two York iLead+Design participants, Laura Bauman ‘17 and Amelia Chambliss ‘16, carried that experience forward and in the Fall of 2014 helped facilitate a workshop at Hartnell College for the Expanding Your Horizons Network, which provides STEM role models and hands-on activities for middle and high school girls with the ultimate goal of motivating girls to become innovative and creative thinkers ready to meet 21st century challenges.

Where is York headed next with Design Thinking? Enter the Design Shop, our newest teaching and learning space dedicated to hands-on, active learning, creativity, and innovation.  A space for tinkering, making, fabricating, and building across subject areas and grade levels and in interdisciplinary STEAM experiences, the Design Shop will support robust learning opportunities that ensure York students will be future ready for the exciting challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. From math classes participating in the Owl box project to York’s First Robotics Team, “Deus Ex Machina,” students will have many opportunities to get involved inside the Shop. Ms. Torg’s TIL classes will be 3-D printing on the MakerBot Replicator 2; Mr. Byrd’s Robotics class will synthesize and apply their electronics knowledge; Ms. Drivdahl’s Ancient History students will build replicas of historical sites; Mr. Walker’s Music 8 students will design and assemble their own instruments; Dr. Hanna’s classes will construct mousetrap cars for experiments in applied Physics principles; and Mr. Brookhouser’s Code + Design class will utilize our Epilog Helix Laser Cutter while working in conjunction with Ms. Kiest’s Environmental Science in designing a learning experience in the Outdoor Lab that makes use of the mobile web. According to Mr. Brookhouser, "Visitors hiking the trails of the Outdoor Lab will encounter a small panel mounted in the ground with an etched steel plate. Users will scan the plate with their phone, which will then display information about the unique ecosystem of the Outdoor Lab. Visitors will learn about the issues behind controlled burns in the region and the difference between endemic species and indigenous species. The site will then direct users to a game where they will be able to show off what they learned and challenge them to find and upload photos of different plants." Very cool.

Join us February 3 at 4:30 p.m. for the Monterey Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting event to celebrate the opening of York’s Design Shop.

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