Design Challenge

Design Challenge brings together teams of students to engage in design thinking challenges to solve local community problems.

Teams of middle school students engage in design thinking challenges to solve local community problems while their teachers gain aligned, cohort-based professional learning to incorporate design thinking as a problem-solving approach in their instructional practice. Businesses or nonprofits in each city serve as the client for the challenge and support local teams, including by providing professionals to mentor student design teams.

Design Challenge originated as a single-day event held across cities, where middle schoolers, local companies and partners, and community members came together to engage in design thinking. Each Design Day centered on solving a community challenge, with solutions designed by students. After spending the day building a prototype, the day culminated students presenting to a panel of professional judges and awards ceremony. Previous Design Day partners include…

  • Obama Foundation
  • The Newark Alliance
  • Grow With Google
  • Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
  • Panasonic, who partnered on our first nationwide, virtual Design Challenge in 2020/2021

“From the feedback that I got from the students, [The Design Day Challenge] was an invaluable experience to see how the stuff they learn in the classroom connects to something in real life.”

Andrew B., Newark Boys Chorus School

“Haven Academy was thrilled to participate in Schools That Can’s Design Day challenge that brought together scholars from a variety of backgrounds to dream up solutions for real-life issues. The event boosted our scholars’ self-esteem and allowed them to interact with new kids who share the same interests.”

Jessica N., Mott Haven Academy

“I loved how the students applies their ideas to a real life problem/concept within Newark – I wish I had this when I was in school.”

Teacher, Newark