Students Learn to Design

REAL-WORLD LESSONS: Riverfield Middle School students Grace Clark and Ryan Lenard collaborate on their ideas to address issues important to them during Riverfield’s “Lean Start-up Camp.”

Courtesy Riverfield Country Day School

In April, nearly 200 6th-12th grade students at Riverfield Country Day School participated in a pioneering 2-day workshop that serves as an introduction to techniques implemented in product development but has been adapted to be specific to Riverfield. The event was based on the “Lean Start-up” model, which is trending in corporate culture and product development, and was led by Kimberly Hicks, Viacom’s director of product management for TV Everywhere. Based in New York, Kimberly works with Viacom brands and business units as the authenticated content experience expert. Kimberly and her team have integrated into multiplatform experiences for Viacom’s brands including Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon.

The day began with an introduction to rapid prototyping. Students conducted limited market research among their peers to develop early-stage sneaker designs. Then, the focus shifted to their school: identifying issues within Riverfield that they would like to improve. Working in small groups, students conducted interviews, determined criteria for success, developed ideas to achieve success, created a prototype and tested the prototype. Later, the teams presented their ideas and prototypes to a panel of judges, both in-person and from New York via Skype, including Cindy Morrison, social media strategist at SOCIALVENTION, Harry Ashbaugh, online marketing director at Cubic, Nick Hunter, director of product for Nick Jr, and Meghan Knoll, director of mobile products with Viacom Media Networks.

“This is an example of a technique used every day by businesses and organizations creating new products, from shoe design to web applications to government policy,” says Riverfield’s Head of School Jerry Bates. “So what we wanted to do was conduct a program that focuses not only on collaboration and exchange of ideas, but we also wanted to have a ‘take-away.’ We wanted an actionable product which will be implemented by students for students.”

Updated 05-19-2014

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