The D3 Lab

Dream it, Design it, Do it

The D3 Lab at Nightingale Middle School

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Formed as a collaboration between the New Learning Institute, the Pearson Foundation, and COMMONstudio, the D3 program challenges young people to be problem solvers, innovators, risk-takers, and makers as they develop projects that are meaningful to them and their communities.

D3 — Dream it, Design it, Do it — asks young people to see the world as their classroom. Youth begin by using design principles and methodologies to produce small projects based on their own interests. (Click here to view full size image.)

As they build confidence and a sense of personal “agency” youth are asked to look outside themselves — to the school, neighborhood, or larger community — and apply what they’ve learned to take a more active role in the world around them. This can result in a wide range of projects and activities — organizing an event, building a garden, painting a mural, doing volunteer work, or participating in a civic improvement project.

To see D3 programming in action, visit the blog here.

D3 Lab @ Nightingale Middle School, Los Angeles

Nightingale Middle School, located in Cypress Park, is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District. The D3 Lab is one part idea lab, one part design and production facility, and one part "do tank." It is a place where students come to nurture and cultivate ideas, tackle big and small problems, and take action. Programs take place during school, after school, in classrooms, in outdoor spaces, in the community, and in the D3 Lab itself.

At the D3 Lab, students learn by doing. We ask them to solve a problem by first defining what the problem is. Students start outside of the space - in the school or in the community - where they ask critical questions that uncover real human needs they want to address. They then iterate to develop an unexpected range of possible solutions and create rough prototypes to take back out into the field to test and retest with real people. The final design is actualized at the school or in the community. As designers, students address core subject matter including reading/writing, math, and science in a contextualized, situated manner.

To read the initial ethnographic research and opportunity assessment that inspired the D3 Lab at Nightingale concept, click here.

D3 @ The Critical Design and Gaming School (C:\DAGS), Los Angeles

The Critical Design and Gaming School is part of the Schools for Community Action in South Los Angeles. The focus of D3 at C:\DAGS programming is building educator capacity around implementing social design-inspired projects with students.

NLI consultants work with teachers on integrating the D3 methodology into their instructional practice through 3 sequential contexts: the classroom, the school, and the community. Through both professional development sessions and one-on-one consulting, D3@C:\DAGS programming empowers educators to test and explore how design thinking leads to student learning experiences that foster real world applications and civic impact. One project example includes Hallway Hieroglyphics in which students apply subject matter content to transform empty physical spaces at the school using creative ideas and one simple tool, masking tape.

To read more about D3 projects at C:\DAGS, click here for our blog.

D3 @ People Serving People, Minneapolis

People Serving People, a non-profit organization based in downtown Minneapolis, provides emergency housing and community services that assist families experiencing homelessness in becoming self-sufficient and reconnected with the community. NLI consultants are working with PSP to develop programming for teens that offer a variety of ways for them to discover and nurture their latent interests through relevant, action-oriented projects.

Similar to the initial program development for the D3 Lab@ Nightingale Middle School, NLI partnered with COMMONstudio, a social design consultancy that works with clients to define challenges, identify opportunities, and co-develop unique and actionable design responses to those challenges, to research stakeholder needs and interests. COMMONstudio interviewed and conducted focus group activities with PSP staff, parents, and teens for several weeks. This culminated in a comprehensive report that forms the basis for understanding how NLI and PSP can collaborate to develop D3 programming that meets the needs and interests of teens.

To read the needfinding report and opportunity assessment, click here.