When Irene Schweiger, executive director of the Sandy Springs Education Force, reached out to us and asked if Watershed Alliance of Sandy Springs would participate on an water expert panel at Sandy Springs Charter Middle School, it was easy to say yes!
The purpose of the water panel was give expert feedback to a large group of 6th graders that have been engaged in a school project about water challenges in African villages. Before the panel arrived to give each group feedback about their solutions and presentations, the students spent time using a special process called Design Thinking. These 6th graders were in teams of 4-5 students. Each team used a specific process of gaining empathy of the issues they needed to solve before brainstorming on solutions. They presented their process, showed a video, and pitched their solution.
The panel consisted of different types of experts. Jennifer McLaurin and Joeleen Davis both work with the Department of Water Resources as environmental education coordinators. They each bring not only experience educating people about water but also a depth of knowledge about working on water resource projects. Travis Chapman works as a STEAM coordinator at North Springs High School. He is very familiar with how new learning methods are applied to Science Technology Engineering Art and Math related projects. Cynthia Morneweck is on the Board of Watershed Alliance of Sandy Springs but also works as a consultant in the design field using design thinking processes on her projects.
If you are interested in learning more about Design Thinking, visit the Stanford University site. They have many examples and exercises already prepared to help you get a kick start.
We appreciate Jennifer Garmon for taking the time to coordinate this. It was wonderful to see such bright ideas from students. They are our future!