Summer 2014

Author Casey Morris (pictured left), who is a sophomore at Menlo-Atherton High School, contributed this post as part of InMenlo’s series How I Spent My Summer Vacation. If you have an interesting summer experience, please email us at [email protected]

I came to my first day of D.Camp feeling nervous about attending a camp that was brand new and having had little experience other than curiosity for its subject — product design.

When I walked into the library at Palo Alto High School where the camp was held, I immediately sat down next to the only familiar face I saw, my close friend Trevor. However, after starting the day off with some “get to know each other” exercises, I was surprised at how friendly I had become with many other campers. With these newfound friendships, each design activity we did was even more fun.

The highlight of the camp, for me at least, was the second half, in which we were all put into groups and given the same problem to solve: How to make riding a bike easier and safer. We started off by going to a local bike shop in which we asked the owner various questions such as, “What do you think people look for when buying a bike?” We also peeked around the store looking at accessories that have already been created to help cyclists.

After collecting our “data” from the bike shop, we rushed back to D.Camp to brainstorm product ideas. Our ideas addressed every possible problem of the bike from security and lighting to personalization. After we trimmed down our massive list of possible products to the two or three we all liked, we started the prototyping stage.

Cardboard, duck tape, exacto-knives — everything you could ever need — was at our disposal. We started building things and breaking things until we finally ended up with our models. After completing our prototypes, we began the final step — creating a poster to display our products’ features and benefits.

In the end we ended up with a few great ideas, models of those ideas, and a poster representing those ideas. On the last day of camp, each group pitched their product ideas to a panel of judges (local tech specialists, investors, and entrepreneurs) along with our family and friends. All the activities we did were a blast, and the camp gave me a fun, high-level exposure to product design. This was definitely one of the best camps I’ve ever attended, thanks to the creativity, dedication and organization of its leaders!

Editor’s note: D.Camp was created by Alison Wong, an alum of Stanford’s D.School and IDEO who wanted to spread design thinking curriculum to the high school level.  With experienced instructors with over 40 years of combined innovation experience, it aims to inspire teens to pursue design as a career and to use design thinking in their everyday lives to solve problems. It will be held again next summer in two sessions.

Photo courtesy of D.Camp

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