Using design thinking to make the school a better place for all

Updated: May 29

One school started planning a project to make their school a better place for everyone. The teachers and students first shared their expectations of the specific changes they would like the project to bring to their daily school life: an end to bullying, an improvement in the physical environment, better eating and exercise habits, etc.

In a challenge formulation workshop, problems were reframed into challenges such as: "How can we make school days more fun for every classmate?" or "How can we make sure that everyone has a friend?", "How can we make lunch break more peaceful?" and "How can we make it more fun to exercise during school?".

A team in the classroom was responsible for improving the eating habits of the pupils. They started by gathering information by interviewing key people (cooks, different students and teachers). Once they had gathered enough knowledge, they sorted it into three categories: physical space, food and behaviour.

They also made a map of their understanding of how the canteen was used during the day. They created four fictional characters representing different types of students at the school, e.g. "Thomas", a 16-year-old in his final year of school, who likes fast food and going out with friends, and "Sarah", a quiet 13-year-old girl, who prefers to chat with her friends and brings her own food to school, etc.

This approach allowed the team to identify new possibilities for creating different areas of the canteen for different types of behaviour and also for using the canteen outside lunchtime for different activities. The team then created three prototypes of the new canteen from paper, cardboard and small objects. This approach allowed the team to discuss and evaluate the design of the new canteen. Finally, the strongest elements of the three prototypes were combined into one prototype which was presented to other people, such as parents, other classes and teachers, for feedback.