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Design Adventure: Nurturing Young Minds through Design and Design Thinking

At Sunnyside, a few days back, an intriguing and enlightening session called the "Design Adventure" took place, led by a talented and experienced designer, Ariesh. The primary aim of the session was to introduce kids to the fascinating world of design and its real-life applications. The session also aimed to raise awareness about design thinking—the process of approaching problem-solving with creativity, empathy, and a user-centric perspective. It was a fantasticopportunity for the young minds to get an exposure to the work of designers and understand how they approach problem-solving through creativity.

The session commenced with Ariesh initiating a discussion on the distinction between art and design. The children eagerly participated, providing diverse answers. One particular response stood out—according to a young participant, art allows freedom of expression, while design is purpose-driven, with specific goals in mind. It was heartening to witness the clarity with which the child articulated this fundamental difference.

Ariesh shared captivating anecdotes from his college and post-college years, during which he explored various digital painting techniques and even ventured into exterior design for buildings, despite lacking formal knowledge in civil engineering. One inspiring example he narrated was about a load carrier designed at IIT to assist construction workers. This exemplified how design could be harnessed to solve real-world problems by first understanding the needs and challenges faced by people.

The session fostered a discussion about the problems the children had noticed around them. They brainstormed ideas, such as identifying hot vessels without touching them, implementing dustbin sensors for the government to monitor fill levels, and devising more fuel-efficient processes. Ariesh encouraged them to create a portfolio of their innovative ideas and potential solutions.

The essence of the design process was further emphasized—the criticality of discovering and understanding the user and his needs before diving into solutions. Ariesh shared his experience of working on a health app for elderly care homes. Initially, he assumed that an app would be required to address the needs of the elderly residents. However, through extensive field visits and interviews, he realized that the problem they had assumed these old people had didn't actually exist! This eye-opening revelation taught him the value of directly talking to people and observing their behavior to truly understand their needs - which saved the company money that they would have otherwise invested in trying to work on this project.

The kids were then guided through the design thinking phases—Discover, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. Ariesh also stressed the importance of iteration in the design process, encouraging the kids to refine their prototypes continually. He mentioned that during his career, he learned that iterating and improving prototypes is a crucial aspect of creating successful designs. However, Ariesh also shed light on the realities of design in the business world, where budget and time constraints exist. Accepting criticism and feedback gracefully were essential traits for designers, as it paved the way for improvement and innovation.

To put their newfound knowledge into practice, the children were given the opportunity to choose a type of bag from a comprehensive list and work together as a team to design it. Surprisingly, they chose unfamiliar themes like adventure, sports, ocean diver, and techie, which demonstrated their eagerness to explore new ideas and scenarios. Over 45 minutes, the young minds collaborated, building personas and envisioning numerous use cases for their bag designs.

The presentations that followed were remarkable, showcasing the depth of thought and creativity the kids had invested in their designs. Engaging discussions ensued, encouraging a healthy exchange of ideas among the young participants. Some even went the extra mile and crafted 3D prototypes, demonstrating a strong grasp of the design process and its potential applications.

In the final moments of the "Design Adventure" session at Sunnyside, there was a tangible sense of accomplishment and excitement in the room. As Ariesh observed the kids presenting their innovative bag designs, he couldn't help but smile with pride at their progress and enthusiasm. Each team had invested their hearts and minds into crafting thoughtful solutions for their chosen bag types. The room was abuzz with animated discussions, as the young designers passionately shared their personas and use cases for the bags they had meticulously crafted. It was inspiring to see them consider every aspect of the user's needs and think beyond just the aesthetics.

Overall, the "Design Adventure" at Sunnyside was an unforgettable and intellectually stimulating experience. The children were introduced to the power of design thinking, encouraging them to approach problem-solving with creativity, empathy, and a focus on the end-users. This session undoubtedly ignited the spark of innovation in the young hearts and minds, inspiring them to be the designers of a better and brighter future.

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