Social Problem Solving through Design Thinking

This is part 1 of a 2-part series on Social Problem Solving through Design. Our next post will follow our capstone in May.

This project is a partnership between the Calgary Foundation, Tsuut’ina Education Department, Connect Charter School, and Mount Royal University.

Social Problem Solving through Design is a joint initiative between Connect Charter School and the Tsuut’ina Education Department. It is an evolution of Partners in Place, which has been an ongoing commitment between our two schools. Our big focus in 2019-2020 is community impact.

Specifically, this class is comprised of 28 wonderful students made up from Grade 8 students from Tsuut’ina Nation and Grade 8/9 students from Connect Charter School.

Our biggest area of focus so far has been relationship building – we believe that this is the strongest. We have had regular activities designed to build teamwork capacity and break down barriers between our two groups of students.

We are near able to deploy the technology provided through this grant to the students of Tsuut’ina Middle School – with the expectation that we will be able to build computational thinking capacity as these get off the ground for incorporation into our community project work.

We have brought in experts to support our students’ capacity in our focus areas:

  • Mental Health expertise from Alberta Health Services
  • Mental Health expertise via the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Youth Summit
  • Anxiety and mindfulness expertise from the Mount Royal University Department of Psychology
  • Bullying expertise via virtual resources

In this next part of the year, our focus will be connecting students’ knowledge of Mental Health, Anxiety, and Bullying to the practice of design thinking and designing for social change. We are also excited to be expanding our partnership with Mount Royal University in that Teacher Candidates will be a part of our program in the new year – building capacity for understanding in teaching and learning in the lens of a path towards reconciliation.

We are tentatively setting the evening of May 6 as a wrap-up/showcase event (recognizing many projects will have ongoing and continuing momentum in our community) with details to follow in the new year – the event will be open to community members from Tsuut’ina Nation and Connect Charter School. 

A short video has been attached to highlight some of our work to date as described above.

We have been thinking carefully about future directions and sustainability, and want to highlight the idea of an anchor class as we have done with this group, around which other members of the Connect, Tsuut’ina and Calgary communities can come together.

We are grateful for the support of our sponsors, the work of our students – and are excited for the future iterations of this work that will follow.

We are looking for ways to set up the successes from this program into a sustainable initiative. The plans for the 2019-2020 year is to do a celebration of learning in early May, 2020.

We are supporting this project through a Calgary Foundation grant, as well as donations in-kind including time, resources, and expertise from the Department of Education at Mount Royal University.

Please let us know if you are interested in helping us support this work on an ongoing basis.

Please contact David Cloutier at [email protected].