SLOJD Workshop: Day 01 Recap

SLOJD is a 6-day workshop that was designed and developed in a collaboration between verynice and No Right Brain Left Behind. The workshop prompts a small group of designers in Los Angeles to develop a new innovation and/or combined methodology that can foster excitement and engagement amongst 9th graders in two common subject matters that are taught at that grade level: Algebra / Biology. Our approach to the workshop format is simple: start with very little constraint, and gradually, throughout the course of the 6 days, continue to introduce more and more constraint / tools / opportunity. Our workshop began at GOOD Magazine’s headquarters.

The workshop consists of a total of 9 participants from a wide range of industries including game designers, product designers, user experience designers, and educators representing companies and organizations including Disney Imagineering, NASA, The Imagination Foundation, and more. Being the first day, we had three goals: 

  1. Provide the participants with the official brief for the workshop
  2. Provide a knowledge-transfer to give the participants context
  3. Begin the ideation and brainstorming process

For the knowledge transfer, both verynice and No Right Brain Left Behind gave brief presentations on the role of designers and the state of innovation in education. To better address the pain-points that exist within the high school education system in Los Angeles and beyond, we invited Douglas Weston, the Director of Development at Green Dot Public Schools, to share the stories of their students. Weston touched on a point that will serve as the basis of our agenda, the dire need to progress the conversation around the importance of nurturing holistic creativity, beyond the arts. Our second guest for the evening was Lee Zlotoff, the creator of MacGyver. Lee spoke to the participants about creative methodology and resourcefulness in order to instill a “Do-It-Yourself” mindset amongst the participants. This framework for making will come into play over the next few days.

After being split into 4 groups, we moved the participants to another section of GOOD’s offices in order to start our kick-off brainstorm exercise. Once in this space, the four groups were prompted with the task of coming up with 400 ideas (roughly 100 ideas per group) around the intersecting topics of “21st Century Skills,” Algebra, Biology, and Creativity. Purposefully broad, our intentions with this component of the overall process was to allow each participant to begin thinking wildly and irrationally around these topics, with very little influence and inhibition. Each idea was to be presented on a single post-it note, because it isn’t a workshop about innovation without a healthy serving of post-it notes, right? Oh, one more thing: they had to come up with all 100 ideas within just one hour.

After a frantic ideation process, and one full hour, our participants stuck their post-it note ideas to the floor beneath GOOD’s logo. It was a crazy first day.