Students challenged to solve real-world problems

Upper Canada College hosted the Future Design School’s Future Prize 2019 event on Jan. 31, welcoming teams of students from 20 CIS Ontario member schools challenged to leverage innovative technology to solve a meaningful problem in the local community.
Teams could choose the topic of their choice, which could be related to healthcare, climate, the environment, social issues, school-based issues, mental health, poverty or any other challenge faced in the local community. Team members collaborated throughout the day to develop a solution to the design challenge and then pitched their idea after about six hours of work.
 
UCC had two teams of Year 6 and 7 students participating in the event: Alan Van, Shaya Farahmand and Stamatis Zezos working with Middle Years science teacher Dave Ma; and Zachary Ali Khan, Owen Liu and Gigi Ciarlandini working with Middle Years design teaching assistant Hilary Julien.
 
“My team focused on addressing the social roots of gun violence in the city, while Dave’s was focused on more effective methods of recycling,” says Julien. 
 
“Both teams worked though the design cycle, as they have practiced in their Middle Years Program design classes, with specific attention on creating a solution for their intended user. We worked up to the point of having a paper prototype before we were able to pitch to an external judge in the digital field.”
 
A panel of judges evaluated all the teams and chose the winner based on: how well they responded to the needs of their users in developing a solution to the challenge; the level of creativity and ingenuity shown in the final solution; how well students articulated the problem they uncovered, and how their idea offered the best possible solution to that problem; and how well they came together to develop an idea that included the work of the three students and the teacher.
 
At the end of the day, Hillfield Strathallan College was victorious with a project about creating an application to help new immigrant students adapt to the language used in their new classrooms.  
 
“Our boys worked hard, tried their best and came up with truly innovative ideas to complicated problems,” says Julien. “I’m sure they gathered valuable insight into how their projects from class could be expanded into real-world products. They came away from today eager to participate in more presentation-based competitions, including Model UN.” 

Future Design School offers programs for educators to learn practicable, applicable tools for empowering student creativity, innovation, critical thinking and problem solving. The goal is to develop future-ready students through professional development, comprehensive curriculum and strategic support.
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