In addition to the universities, there was a high school team in the recent Acara Challenge. The team was a collection of students from various Twin Cities area high schools. The team was sponsored by Leonardo’s Basement. Their executive director, Steve Jevning, is also on the Acara Institute board of directors (along with Erin and me). The high school team did a fabulous job and plans to keep working on their solution. We hope to get more high school teams involved next year.

Below is a summary from one of the students, Cody Kelly-Sommer, as part of a presentation he is giving to Logic, a design and product development firm here in Minneapolis.

So here is Cody:

What I have learned

I think that the most important lesson I have learned while working on the ACARA project at Leonardo’s Basement is how related anthropology is to the identifying and addressing of social problems.

Also, I have learned how design thinking helps streamline the process of solving these problems. Design thinking was a totally new concept to me when I fist signed up for the project. I knew the problem would be complex, otherwise there would already be an answer to it, but I thought that the problem would probably be mostly technical, not social. When I actually started studying the problem and using design thinking, I realized how the social structure and behavior of the people really affected the way we would need to design our product.

I also learned a great deal about how important it is to implement a design into a business model so that it will be sustainable. Finally, I learned how specific the problem is to each specific area, even within the different slums in Mumbai.

Why I am excited to keep working.

I am exited to keep working on this project because I believe that our solution has a real potential to help alleviate the problem we identified, even though our project was not chosen to be the pilot project. With some more work I believe we can make contacts in India, run some tests on the biogas digester here in the Twin Cities and then implement the idea in Mumbai itself.

Why I enjoyed working at Leonardo’s Basement

Working on this project at Leonardo’s Basement was very stimulating. The atmosphere was one which exuded creativity. Its central location allowed for kids from five schools to come together and bring their separate and unique viewpoints to bear on the issue.

Also, in several ways the building itself perfectly matched the dynamic of the group: it is always hovering between slight chaos and order: cluttered with objects for building prototypes and scientific projects. It always had a bustling feel of energetic people with creative ideas trying to work on and with each other.

And finally, there was the creative vibe that existed in the building. The silent message everywhere was that with work and creativity it is possible to build or create anything in this wonderful workshop.