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It's your move

Design thinking is changing the way these high school students learn

At ThinkPlace we are witness every day to the power of design thinking to drive creative approaches that help tackle some of the world's most complex problems.

But even we have been surprised by the amazing transformations that have been made possible by introducing these ideas into the school curriculum.

That's the goal of It's Your Move, a program developed by ThinkPlace in partnership witht he ACT Government that uses ideas of design thinking and entrepreneurship to help secondary school children create innovations that address health issues within their school community.

And those ideas were on show recently in Canberra at the Festival of Great Ideas, part of the Entrepreneurs: It's Your Move curriculum.

Students from Lyneham High school, St Franxis Xavier, Merici College, and Caroline Chisholm High School pitched their ideas for addressing health issues in their school to a 'shark tank' panel including Joy Burch Speaker for ACT Legislative Assembly, Tara Cheyne MLA, Rachel Wright from Threesides Marketing, and Kerstin Oberprieler from Pentaquest, part of the ThinkPlace global network..

How it works

Students begin the curriculum by choosing a problem to solve. They research the problem first-hand, talking to and observing the people who experience it. They build empathy and understanding.

Next they work together in groups to come up with possible solutions. Plenty of them. This requires a freedom and creativity of thought. An openness to experiment without fear of failing. 

From a large pool of ideas – some feasible, others more improbable – they will choose a few to test. And then from those few they will choose one with serious potential and develop it, first as a prototype, and then as a progressively-polished reality. By the end of the program, their idea is real, and having real impact.

This is the same methodology used at ThinkPlace, in partnership with clients all over the world, to tackle challenges like malnutrition, disease prevention digital transformation. it's a method that connects young people to their own capacity for creative and collaborative problem solving and also sees them benefit from the thrill of seeing their ideas become real and lasting changes that improve the lives of fellow students.

The ideas presented bu students at the Festival of ideas sought to address various health challenges in innovative ways, including:

  • Sun safety through readily available sun screen stations and redesigned caps (Merici)
  • A dedicated room for indigenous students to enhance their wellbeing (Caroline Chisholm)
  • Getting students off their devices by having secure lockers that charge devices and students going into a raffle to win prizes that encourage physical activity (Lyneham)
  • A pedometer competition between school houses to encourage physical activity (St Francis Xavier)
  • Home-made flavoured milk to increase calcium intake (St Francis Xavier)
  • 'Friday Funday', social activities for Year 7 and 8 students to encourage mental well-being and socialisation (St Francis Xavier)
Author
Darren Menachemson's profile'
Darren Menachemson
students deliver their pitch
Students from several Canberra High Schools presented their ideas to a 'shark tank' of expert judges as part of the It's Your Move curriculum.

These ideas are great ways for students to be active in the health of their school and community. What's even more impressive is the process the students have gone through to develop and prototype their ideas. They have been working for weeks to learn and apply design thinking methodology, with a focus on empathising with others, understanding systemic influences on the health system, prototyping to fail early and learn, and grappling with the practicalities of implementation.

All student groups who pitched at the event received $500 towards their idea, with the winner receiving an additional $1,000. The panel of sharks chose Lyneham High's ideas as the winner because of their creativity, solving multiple problems at once, and the sophistication of their plan for implementation. Congratulations!

The Entrepreneurs: It's Your Move curriculum has been a stunning success. It is now available to all Canberra secondary schools and is currently being used in 15 high schools around Canberra. Results have been hugely encouraging. 

It has even won a prestigious international design award.

But the impact is only beginning. These methods can work in any school, anywhere. ThinkPlace recently began rolling out the latest version of It’s Your Move in Northern California, training teachers there in how to use the curriculum. 

In California, the program will be used in communities that are home to many native American peoples, a high proportion of migrant families and others who suffer social disadvantage. In this situation the curriculum has been localised around the idea of making positive social change within the community. Early signs are that the educators are excited and can’t wait to begin. 

In the next 18 months we also have plans to out It’s Your Move more broadly, targeting pilots in East Africa and another in regional Australia.