All School Design Challenge at Moses Brown in Providence, RI

On October 18th, we spent a delightful midday at Moses Brown School in Providence, RI.  I am in the middle of a design project with Moses Brown, collaborating with Cannon Design, TTT, to design a new Early Childhood Center.  On the 18th we were there see the whole school in action in a final phase of what they called the MB Challenge. Throughout the school, all the students were engaged with different problems to solve through design.  The faculty had adapted a version of Design Thinking to give the process a creative structure.  As we walked around, we saw 60 different groups, 3 year olds to high school seniors, working on their final phase of an experiment or an installation.

Each group documented their process in different ways, yet each mirrored the same design thinking process.  Below is a rough composition of a middle school challenge: How can we redesign the English classroom to better meet student needs?

From their research, the group resolved that The English classroom needs space for a variety of “stations,” more permanently installed technology, and more comfortable functional furniture in order to improve the learning experience for students and teachers.  Next, the group “multiplied” their ideas through brainstorming.  They came up with over 70 ideas.  Then, they reviewed all their ideas to discern which, or which combinations, had the most possibility and then worked to put them into place.

The kindergarteners decided to design and build an ideal play space for our hamster.  They divided into two groups, and each group built a separate “playground.”  Their shop teacher, Randy, was a great help to each group.  They kept their designs secret from each other.  Below you see them at the “unveiling” of their respective playgrounds.  They connected them with a “hamster tube.”

Moses Brown has just published a new “manifesto” of sorts, entitled MB BELIEVES, a vision for learning, people and place.   Among many enlightened declarations is...a school-wide commitment to cross disciplinary team-teaching.  Their MB Challenge was a clear demonstration of action to grow this great idea.