Sara Whalen Shifrin directs the IDEAS Center at Gould Academy. A fairly recent addition to the school, the IDEAS Center brings a new way of collaborating to the classroom. Design thinking is a mindset and creative process that encourages students to think creatively, while allowing them to work in a unique space that fosters collaboration.
The bottom floor of Hanscom Hall is dedicated to Gould Academy's IDEAS Center. Windows fill the room with warm sunlight, desks are arranged to seat groups of students, and walls of whiteboards are collaboration tools that allow students to bring ideas to life. A media room, a fabrication room, and a hands-on workshop, give students the opportunity to explore their creativity in a variety of ways.
Design thinking is a process where students learn to observe and empathize, conduct research, collaborate to come up with creative solutions, and create prototypes that can be tested. Design thinking teaches students a creative process that helps them to be more connected in their communities, and to be problem solvers and entrepreneurs, or team members of entrepreneurs in the community.
Sara talks about how big problems aren't solved alone anymore. Oftentimes, people get stuck in a "solution-itis" phase, where the fixation on an answer lacks the action of asking what is needed or wanted. Design thinking at Gould Academy aims to help students find ways to be collaborative problem solvers, community-oriented, and creatively confident agents of change.
Sara says that the design thinking process better positions students to become entrepreneurs, or, have an entrepreneurial mindset. Being an entrepreneur often means collaborating with others in the community, and design thinking helps to foster a mindset that may develop a future of entrepreneurial pursuits.
It will be critical for community organizations to offer opportunities, resources, and ways for young people to connect so that the experienced Maine workforce and community leaders may pass on their knowledge.
Learn more about Design Thinking at Gould Academy.