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Meeting the Next Generation

Earlier this month, DxD (“Diversify by Design”) launched the Design= Curriculum Kit

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Earlier this month, DxD (“Diversify by Design”) launched the Design= Curriculum Kit. DxD is a national coalition of creative partners committed to transforming the design industry by recognizing the extraordinary racial disparities within the field and addressing them head-on. DxD addresses five interconnected aspects of the design ecosystem, one of which is education. The Design= Curriculum Kit includes lessons, activities, and examples to introduce Black and Brown high school youth to a design learning journey. Threespot’s own Liz Ott is a member of the DxD Advisory Council that helped shape this new learning opportunity for the next generation of design thinkers.

In addition to her place on the committee, Liz recently took on the role of volunteer mentor. Earlier this summer, DxD co-hosted a design camp with YMCA National Capital Area at the Josephine Butler Parks Center in Washington, D.C. For the day, she and I attended a working session with young designers who were working through complex issues through research, iteration, and prototyping. The camp piloted an earlier iteration of the Design= Curriculum, and the students’ work informed and strengthened its final form. Throughout the week, campers selected a problem to solve and used the curriculum to demonstrate design thinking. Their work culminated in a presentation of their projects at Amazon HQ2 in Arlington, Virginia. Students were given a few project prompts to choose from, ranging from “design an accessory for a superhero” to “create a space to promote better mental health in your school.” Solutions, in turn, ranged from detailed dioramas of their proposed mental wellness centers to a prototyped boot for Scarlet Witch (that you might think was a wearable if it wasn’t made of clay). During the session, Liz and I asked campers questions about their process, how they overcame complexities, how they thought about their audiences, and how they hoped their products would be used. They delivered their mock presentations enthusiastically, in between belting out “Blank Space” and “If I Were a Boy.”

As women, as creative professionals, and as former DMV teens, it was really exciting to see middle/high school students who look like Liz and me using this type of thinking so early in their academic careers. The new Design Curriculum is an amazing opportunity for educators and design professionals to mentor the future of our profession. It will help move our industry to what it needs to be – diverse, inclusive, and full of young designers instilled with creative confidence.

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