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Design Thinking as a Methodology for Real World Problem Solving

At aruliden, we believe students need more opportunities to learn about the role of design in problem solving – opportunities that will shape them into independent, critical and creative thinkers. So when we began to work with Staples on Back to School 2015, we decided to bring students into the design process. It started with a simple premise: if back to school products are used by students, then they should be designed by students. aruliden and Staples partnered with two schools to come up with product ideas: Middle School 88 in Brooklyn, New York and the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia.

We led students through the design thinking process to develop a set of products to help them manage their everyday; to go from only providing the essentials, to products that will transform their school experience, speak to their individual needs and wants, and make learning easier. By integrating students into the design thinking process, we could collectively identify the core problems and generate solutions that would meet their discrete needs. 

Throughout this process, students developed critical, creative problem solving skills: skills to imagine the possibilities; find success in failure; and become independent thinkers in every aspect of their lives. 

Check out the final Designed by Students products here

Students dove deep and made observations, recorded quotes, and gathered inspiration and images about their assigned category. They began to identify the problems and then frame the solutions that speak to their needs.

All of the research culminated into the student’s Big Idea – a product vision that speaks to the wants and needs they uncovered. The students presented their ideas to the Staples and aruliden teams through prototypes, packaging, jingles and product names.

Our team then took these foundational prototypes and continued questioning and iterating on the solution, to create a feasible product. We analyzed, interpreted and filtered everything the students discovered through product sketches and renderings. 

The Big Ideas
The strategy of inviting students into our process to deliver real world solutions yielded 9 products that are now available in Staples stores and online at:

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