Iteration, County Fair by Design

By History and Social Studies Co-Chair Anthony Shaker
During the last two weeks, the “force” has been strong with the 7th grade as they took up the challenge of refining and designing elements for their County Fair activity to fit this year’s theme of “Lost in Space.” As part of the grade’s year-long interdisciplinary design project, the class used design thinking to conceive of and construct the elements for their booth—the third iteration of their Obstacle Course.
We began our work by looking at all the data the class of 2023 gathered last year following their own successful version of the course. Students identified the elements that would stay in the lineup, those needing some modifications and those to drop from the activity. The students analyzed each element to determine its target audience and the necessary skills. Students then imagined “users” whose needs that particular course did not meet, trying to make sure the course would appeal to as many students as possible. They then made “pitch” commercials for the finalist obstacle ideas before voting as a class on which would eventually appear at this year’s fair. Once the votes were tallied, students designed, prototyped, gathered materials, built, tested, revised, tested again and so on until they finished constructing the course. New obstacles included the “Meteor Jump” and “The Race to Mars.”
Kate Tabor was “mission control” during this process, guiding our spirited 7th graders during the analysis of last year’s course and the construction phase. Chris Stader piloted the shuttle during the empathy phase, helping the students make sure they understood their target audience. And Steve Files, Adam Colestock and Jasmine Hart all lent their creative and technical know-how in helping the students make their “out of this world” ideas come to life.
Data collected by last year’s 7th graders was integral to designing this year’s course, and data gathered during County Fair 2018 will serve as the basis of the next iteration of the obstacle course. This project is the second design thinking challenge the 7th grade has worked on this year and the first to ask them to produce their designs from brainstorming to reality. The team is already looking forward to the next phase of this year-long interdisciplinary design project.

Click here for photos of this project. 
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.