Musk Cohort Update

My name is Emma Markland and I am a sophomore in the Musk Cohort in Innovation Diploma. Last year, I enjoyed working with a non-profit organization called Magic Wheelchair. I really hope to pursue things that I am interested in this year in iD, including learning more about interior design, students learning, and many other things.

During the first six weeks of iDiploma this year, we have done a lot. First, we started the year learning about ethnography and making observations, which has really helped us in the long run. We learned about making detailed observation locally on the Glenn Campus, then put that to work in the classrooms.  We also ventured over to the Founders Campus to observe how the kids use the frontier. We used the many different ways to sort our observation in order to use them to solve problems and create new projects. Next, we applied our new understanding of ethnography into redesigning and improving the 2018 Upper School Schedule. My group focused on the GTD (getting things done) class. Because the schedule was different from the previous year, we were able to discover many insights and pieces of feedback from students and faculty. We observed how students used the new schedule differently, and then interviewed faculty and students. We heard about many things that are working and many other things that aren't working. In the end, we found we simply need to change the location and create a better system involving student choice.  We hope to present the idea to the design teams and receive feedback soon.

Written by Emma Markland, a 10th grader in the Musk Cohort, making this her second year in iD. In her free time, she spends most of her time on the soccer field. She has been playing soccer since she was 3 and has been playing at UFA Norcross, her soccer club club, since she was 8. To learn more about what Emma has been up to, check out her blog here.

Chick-fil-A: A Mini Reflection

In November of my Sophomore year, I had the amazing opportunity to work with Chick-fil-A corporate. Specifically, I had the opportunity to work with their innovation team, which they call the Hatch Team. Since the innovation process for Chick-fil-A changed due to a new user approach, they wanted our team to create new innovation tools to help explain the innovation process of Chick-fil-A and how it identifies with their users. I, along with five other students, began to work on a Chick Fil A version of the design thinking playbook that would consist of multiple pages of explanation of how to use specific tools that would help Chick-fil-A address their user and understand how to make a product specifically for them. The playbook was then presented to the Chick-fil-A team at the Hatch at the end of May. This experience was incredible for me because it helped me to understand what working with larger companies will be like, the importance of scheduling, and how crucial time management is when meeting deadlines. Understanding how presentation works in a corporate environment also helped me to understand how I want to spend the rest of my highschool career focusing on how to create a bigger network to gain more opportunities to work with companies like Chick-fil-A. - Harriet Middleton

Center for Civil & Human Rights Mini-Reflection

Over the course of 2018, myself and a few other iD members have been working on a project with the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, our city’s primary civil rights museum. We were tasked with designing and building an interactive, VR-centered exhibit to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of King’s passing. In order to properly commemorate King’s legacy, we’ve been asking ourselves how we can best stir Atlanteans using his message and through telling the story of his advocacy. We came to the conclusion that MLK’s Drum Major Speech best expressed the power of his actions and the devotion he held to his beliefs, causing it to be a fantastic call to action. It makes a great case for individual empathy and action- in it, he speaks about the power of advocacy and the futility of selfishness using the metaphor of the drum major. This is the central theme that we are trying to capture in order to do justice to King’s legacy. The power or selflessness and individual action. Great. But how do we accomplish this? Can we use the built-for-business empathy tools that we usually deploy in iD? Thus far, we’ve found the answer to be yes. Design thinking has helped us to both imagine the layout of the exhibit and build content for it. We use empathy-based tools as a way to figure out the role of interactive technology in our exhibit - such as Virtual Reality or the more commonly used interactive monitors currently deployed in the museum- as well as to best organize the stories we’ve collected from people currently trying to evoke activism in Atlanta. We’ve tried to use our arsenal of empathy tools to best tell the stories of people like Terence Lester, the founder of Love Beyond Walls. Terence has the sort of anecdotes and life stories that simply deserve to be told well- writing them on a wall or playing them on a small monitor would not do them justice. And that is why design thinking is so relevant to this project, despite its medium; we can use it as a way to organize and tell powerful stories in a way that they deserve. The technology and people we have access to is just part of the puzzle- we can only move our viewers to action if we can build the right setting in which to tell their stories. This project is a way to mix our skills as thinkers, listeners, and innovators. This project is a fantastic way to apply the tools we’ve developed in iD, and I’m proud to be working on it.

About the Author:

Bryce Jones is a junior and a second-year member of Innovation Diploma. He is on the iD executive committee and is currently working on the design brief with the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

Center for Civil and Human Rights Update

It is hard to comprehend that one quarter of my sophomore year is already complete. It seems like just yesterday that I was sitting in the hive in the first i-Diploma class ever. Up to this date, I have not only learned many new skills, but I have also made new connections, created a Linkedin profile, gained knowledge on the DEEP process of innovative problem solving and started on my first official design brief. I was unsure what to expect when I started working with my team on the design brief for the Center for Civil and Human Rights; however, after a couple of days, my uncertainty was subdued. Our group began with the inspiration of making an exhibit about MLK, which will be shown to thousands in the Center for Civil and Human Rights. We quickly got in contact with the head curator and head of education at the CCHR. Centered around the narrative of MLK’s lasting impact on his “six pillars,” we were told to plan, design and install an interactive exhibit for May of 2018. The best way to describe the sensation is mind-boggling. I was blown away to think that we are going to make something which will be showcased on a world-class level. So far we have: assembled our team, hosted a client meeting, set expectations with our client, made a brief timeline, and done some initial surface level research into the topic. I am still wondering how we will get it all done.

All in all, I don’t think I could have asked for a better experience thus far. I love the Innovation Diploma and the people who are apart of it. I have grown a lot in the short time that I have been apart of this team, and I hope to continue to develop. I am very fortunate to be apart of this tight-knit community, and I look forward to the future and what it holds for me.

About the author: Oliver Schouest is a member of Innovation Diploma, currently in the Gates cohort.

SPARK Roundup

Two months ago, a team of seven Innovation Diploma students set out to create an event specifically designed to bring adults and students together for intentional and creative conversations. They wanted to set up a time and space for students to connect with business leaders, non-profit organizers, government officials and students from all over Atlanta. Last Thursday their hard work paid off when 80 people attended the first ever SPARK.

The morning began with Dr. Brett Jacobsen (Head of School, Mount Vernon Presbyterian School), Jack Harris (President and CEO, Junior Achievement), and Alex Rodriguez (a multi-unit Chick-fil-A operator) highlighting their personal triumphs and posing current problems for the audience to solve. After a brief Q&A, the ID team lead everyone through a design sprint to develop unique solutions for the speakers' problems. By the end of the morning, there were numerous new ideas for each of our speakers to take back to their organization. 

Be on the look out for an invitation to the spring SPARK later this semester!

Spark: The ID Convention

In my third year of Innovation Diploma, one of our facilitators tasked my team – Skylar, Melina, Mitch, Kylie, Anna, and Catherine – and I with hosting an event that brings creative people together for a talk. The goal of the internal design brief is to host an event entirely run by students and sponsor the ID name to hopefully get more design briefs from the wide variety of people that would come to this event. We started off thinking of creating another chapter of Creative Mornings to attach it to a well-known name, but then we pivoted into creating our own event called Spark to have more control and be confident in what we are doing. After pivoting, we put together a meeting with Mrs. Toller, who works at Mount Vernon, and can help us put on this event.
After talking with her, we created an executive summary that describes what our first opening doors event is going to be. Our goal is to plan an event that will bring in external experts from a variety of backgrounds who will have intentional conversations with each other about business, creativity, and education. We will be partnering with Allison Toller and Dr. Jacobsen and inviting two CEOs from the Business Chronicle’s 2017 Most Admired CEOs list to come and speak. We also hope to make connections with different companies and to advertise Innovation Diploma’s brand as a design firm to increase opportunities for future design briefs. Innovation Diploma members will be the students running, organizing, and hosting the event.
After creating the executive summary piece, we put together another meeting to show Mrs. Toller where our heads were at and how we were going to take the initiative in order to have this event become a reality. We also got together with Mr. Neylon to talk about potential places to host this event and how to make it look top notch. My team is currently working on a letter to send out to the CEOs that we are inviting and a landing page with an elevator pitch and a description. Our summary of the event looks something like this:
‘Come to Spark, a playground for intentional conversations, to listen and brainstorm ideas for meaningful speakers. Through this event, we will bring together a variety of students and adults from all over Atlanta to connect with and make an impact on your community.
Spark is an event hosted and created by students from Mount Vernon’s Innovation Diploma to bring a wide variety of students and adults together to enjoy creative talks. These talks will spark intentional conversations that will help brainstorm creative solutions for the speaker’s bugs or problems. Spark connects students with a wide variety of business leaders, non-profit organizers, and government officials from all over Atlanta.’
Working on this internal design brief has helped me not only appreciate how hard it is to host an event, but also how to go through the process of creating an event with a name, brand, or style. Even though this is tough work, my team and I are working diligently to get as much work done as possible to host this event as soon as possible. From this design brief, I have learned many different skills; from working in a big team setting to collaborating with important adults. I hope this event turns out to be as impactful and fun as I envision it in my head.

About the Author: Brady Vincent is in the Jobs cohort at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School and is very interested in becoming a serial entrepreneur when he grows up. He is passionate about the Innovation Diploma program and is also driven to be a maverick by challenging the way things are done.