It’s past the mid-semester point for all of the teams and they are narrowing in on solutions. I recently visited both the Minnesota high school team and the University of Minnesota teams. In the small amount of time I spent with the teams, I was amazed at their progress and impressed with their understanding of the complexity of a water issues. The problem presented by Acara was stated in a way that did not imply any particular solution; in fact, the teams have to come up with a clear problem statement on their own. This allows the most innovation and the widest consideration of possible ideas, but is difficult in practice. Starting from a wildly ambiguous issue and getting to a concrete solution is a challenging process, but one that yields new solutions and improves students ‘design thinking’ along the way. Many of today’s leaders believe that the solutions of tomorrow will require the ability to work in teams that are diverse and cross-functional, and that address multi-faceted open-ended questions. Acara seeks to give these students real-life exposure to those skills.

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