Community Outreach

Sixth Grade Uses Design Thinking to Solve Real World Problems

Calvert Sixth Graders designed and built prototypes to address daily challenges faced by residents of Blakehurst Retirement Community in Towson. On May 10, the students visited Blakehurst to present their prototypes and share the specific steps involved in finding a solution to a group of 25 residents. 
Earlier this year, Sixth Grade students discussed the challenges and benefits of getting older, and a panel of Blakehurst residents visited campus in October. Students were able to ask questions and gather information to design some possible solutions. Sixth Graders also visited Blakehurst the past few months in co-ed groups to participate in a variety of activities with residents in order to build meaningful relationships with them.
Challenges identified by Blakehurst residents included technology, mobility, organization strategies and schedule reminders, moving heavy outdoor furniture, back comfort, and medicine identification. Students focused on thoughtful research and collaborative brainstorming in order to attempt to solve these challenges. As projects came to fruition, advisors and a group of Outward Bound facilitators helped students in the final phase of creating the prototypes.
This program is based on “design thinking,” a research-based model from the Stanford Design School. Calvert teachers Angel Menefee and Shannon Cheston presented at the AIMS Tech Retreat last week. Their workshop called “Design Thinking: Learn to Think Like an Innovator” was based upon their experience with the Sixth Grade design thinking-based community outreach model with Blakehurst.
The residents were very impressed with the students’ hard work, problem solving skills, and innovative thinking. Congratulations, Sixth Graders!
Calvert School is a coed independent lower and middle school.