Every year, middle-schoolers from throughout the STC network, local companies and partners, and community members join us to engage in design thinking. In partnership with local leaders, we identify a problem in the community, and consider: what solutions would students build to solve it? The challenge is presented by community leaders, many of whom also serve on the panel of expert judges at the end of the day. Some cities used including materials including cardboard, pipe cleaners, modeling clay, and more. Across all Design Days, students worked in teams to build a prototype of their solution, concluding the day with a presentation to the crowd, an awards ceremony, and celebration reception. 

Take a look inside the innovation and energy of Design Day 2019 throughout our regions! View an album of photos from STC Design Days 2019 here. 


Kicking off a Design Day-filled fall, first up was Newark’s Design Day. This was their 4th Annual event, as Newark also hosted the first official STC Design Day in 2016.

The Challenge: Presented by the Newark Alliance, students tackled how to design Mulberry Common’s expansion.

The Solutions: Among other ideas, students proposed soccer fields, a walk of fame showing Newark’s history, playgrounds for families, and elevators and escalators to make the park accessible, and a filtered water fountain, a reaction to the Newark’s current lead crisis. You can read more about STC Newark’s Design Day in this Chalkbeat write-up.



Hosting their first-ever Design Day, Pittsburgh explored the Children’s Museum’s new MuseumLab for an interactive challenge that had students thinking big about what makes a space in their city appeal to them.

The Challenge: Students were asked to design a Youth Party at Museum Lab. The Youth Party is part of a larger, three-day-long STEAM Carnival

The Solutions: Students focused on what would make MuseumLab a place they wanted to return to, including looking at the overall vibe and tone of the event, detailing what snacks and activities should be featured, and what social media’s role in the evening should be.


New York

STC New York kicked off their second Design Day at Grow With Google. 

The Challenge: Presented by Allison James, the Director of Education and Environmental Policy for Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, the challenge for students was to reimagine a subway station, making it more accessible, sustainable, and easier to navigate.

The Solutions: Students presented ideas that included activities to make commuting more fun, like basketball courts and dance studios, quiet areas for individuals with processing challenges, green spaces, and “Maglev” technology that allows trains to run in a more eco-friendly way. Read more in this write-up of the day from our friends at 3DuxDesign.



Our final Design Day of the fall, Schools That Can Chicago’s Design Day featured a special partnership that tied in the future of Chicago.

The Challenge: Students were asked to envision how they’d design the plaza for the future Obama Presidential Center. 

The Solutions: The conclusion of the day bought things full circle, with students presenting their designs and solutions to architects from Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects I Partners, the firm designing the Obama Presidential Center.