The Heartbeat of an Innovative Space

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(I wrote this yesterday, but it never posted…)

It was our last full day in sunny San Francisco today which is sad, but it’s been an amazing week! Today we went to the Exploratorium and IDEO and I think it might have been my favorite day actually.

The Exploratorium was a giant interactive museum that was so much fun to just play and learn in. When I say giant I mean it was a wear house  with two buildings and two floors. I personally love how the idea of what a museum is has been changing over the years, so now there are more and more interactive museums. What was interesting, was that most people (myself included) enjoyed the social behavior area the best. In that area specifically there were a lot of partner and team games where it was about discovering the probability of people exhibiting certain behaviors.

This place was so much fun that we didn’t want to leave, but it was time for IDEO which other businesses had been talking about all week.

IDEO was beautiful. Someone actually described it as “MVPS in the business world”. The funny thing about this trip was that a lot of people were finally starting to realize that the terminology we use at MVPS isn’t just some wacky thing we do at school, but we use the terminology because it is the actual terminology that people in the business world use.

Through out this week we were asked at almost every place we went, “Do any of you know what design thinking is?” “What do you think it means to ‘hack’?” “Did you know design thinking can be used to redesign a process or experience?” “This is called a ‘how might we question’, why do you think we ask a question this way?”

It was really interesting to me because MVPS has a decent reputation and most of the places we visited were because of connections through members of the MVPS community (teachers or parents in this case), yet the people seemed very surprised that a bunch of young high school students were so well versed in design thinking.

A big thing we’ve noticed this week is how much these innovative businesses focus on the community and culture of their work environment. A big part of this, of all things, is food. At IDEO we were told that their kitchen is the “heartbeat of the entire place and some of the best conversations and ideas come from out of this cafe like space”. All of the businesses have said similar things which is why a constant conversation of the week has been, “HMW create a cafe environment at MVPS?”

The cool thing was that we actually brainstormed this idea while at IDEO. She had some pre-created questions ready for us, but after hearing this question we’ve been talking about she thought we should flesh it out more, so we did right then and there.

Some of the common themes were:

  • a place for teachers and students to interact as people/more as equals
  • a fun, relaxed environment with some sort of outdoor access
  • food and drinks would be served and everyone thought it would be cool to actually be run by students
    • maybe even start a culinary class that could bake for it
    • maybe various classes could run it at times to actually earn a profit and learn about running a business

Little did some of the people know that we’ve been having similar conversations in ID all year long. The roof came up during our conversation today and I just started laughing, because that’s where this all started for me; back with the space on the roof. Since then some of us in ID realized we needed to start smaller and work up to these bigger ventures, thus the iStudio coVenture was started to redesign the space we work in. The plan for me has always been to tackle this idea of creating a “coffee house” once the iStudio has its grand opening.

The thing is that I work on a lot, and the whole point is that this would be a whole school thing, so I want to work on ways to get others involved with this process. iFest, which is going to be the big presentation day for the high school to show off all of the project work people have been doing, is coming up soon. I’m curious what will happen after iFest. To my knowledge the schedule isn’t set to change again, so I wonder if I could get a group of people that want to do a design challenge around this question during the project time after iFest.

Well it was the last full day, but I wouldn’t be surprised if more conversations happen tomorrow and I really hope all of the great thoughts and ideas that have happened this week can make their way back to Atlanta so things can start taking action.

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