Some of the students working together on one of their ideas.

NEWRY — The first Design Thinking Workshop took place at the Summit Hotel Friday, Nov. 22 through Sunday, Nov. 24. The goal of the workshop was to teach students five different skills that will hopefully give them a jump start in the “adult world.”

The workshop was the River Funds Educational Committees “flagship” event. The River Fund is a non-profit organization whose primary goal is to create educational and recreational experiences for young kids in and surrounding the Oxford County Area.

Eight students took part in the workshop, which was run by Gould Academy Teacher Sara Shifrin.

Six students came from Gould Academy and Telstar, and the other two came from schools in Camden and Hampden. The eight students were sophomores and juniors.

“The goal is to give kids a real world problem and ask them to try and solve it,” River Fund Executive Director Jim Largess said.

The first skill students learned was how to interview people who are dealing with a problem and to try understand what that problem is. Secondly, they learned how to separate a core issue from a contributing factor. The third part educated the kids on what it means to brainstorm. The final two skills centered around forming a consensus and learning how to communicate and present all the information gathered.

Friday night focused mostly on team building and then on Saturday, the design challenge was revealed to students. Students were given the task to redesign the ski check process at the Summit Hotel.

When skiers/snowboarders currently check into the hotel, they bring their ski’s and snowboards upstairs to a special room to check them in. The hotel does not want ski’s or snowboards in any of the hotel rooms.

The current process has made many people upset, with one of the major reasons being that they cannot bring their equipment into their room.

The students were divided into two groups of four and each had to come up with an idea on how to make the ski check-in easier.

At the end of the event, a panel of judges watched each group’s pitch and then picked the one they were more impressed with.

The losing idea was a ski-bucket. They made a model of their ski-bucket, a design with wheels that will lock peoples skis in place. It would allow people to roll their skis around and bring them to their room, eliminating one of the biggest problems with the current system. The ski-bucket was also created so that any snow stuck on the bottom of ski’s would melt into the bucket. In the room, the ski’s would stand straight up, again avoiding the problem of having skis and snowboards leaning against the walls, something the hotel does not want. The creation was made to fit both skis and snowboards.

The winning teams idea was born through multiple conversations they had with people throughout the workshop. One part was to to take the existing ski check-in room and paint the it the same color as Sunday River’s current brand. Students also learned what the busy times of day were at the hotel so they could schedule Eddy the Yeti to be there to keep younger children entertained while equipment is being put away. Students also took old pallets used to stand skis on and they re-purposed the pallets by simply putting wheels on them. They figured this would be useful for big groups of skiers carrying a lot of equipment. Students also discussed live streaming family photos and making a 3D trail map. The map would allow children to touch it and trace the trails that they want to try out.

“The cool thing is that they not only interviewed Sunday River employees, but also people in the community,” Shifrin said.

Shifrin believes that the group’s “strong networking” was one of the deciding factors for judges. Shifrin also said the winning group used direct quotes from their interviewees.

Shifrin said regardless of which group won, the overall event was beneficial to each participant.

“They learned some new skills; how to make a pitch, the designed thinking process and they also built a network at Sunday River,” Shifrin said.

Shifrin said the event will return to Sunday River next year and that she hopes to see more kids participate.

 

 


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