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Studio H: A real-world experiment in design-based education


As 2010 comes to a close, I thought I’d write my last post of the year about a project that has really moved and inspired me. The project is called Studio H, and is the brainchild of two brilliant designers, Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller, who have found a new calling as teachers in one of the poorest, most rural counties in my home state of North Carolina.

Even though Bertie County, where the experiment is taking place, is less than 2 hours away from where I live, I first heard about this project earlier this year from a good friend who showed me the TED Talk Emily had given at TEDGlobal 2010 in July. Here is her talk:

It’s a wonderful story. Two successful designers leave their San Francisco home to move to the poorest county in North Carolina and design a program to help public school kids (over 95% of who qualify for reduced-rate or free lunches) get a shot at a better future.

What makes the story particularly compelling is the non-traditional learning approach, utilizing design thinking and some other tools that will be very familiar to those of us who do things the open source way.

Watch the TED talk first, which will likely bring anyone but Scrooge himself close to tears, but don’t stop there.

This project is not just a theory. Studio H is underway, with the students now well into their second fall project, designing some really amazing chicken coops (chickens are a big part of the Bertie County economy).

I particularly love the ChickTopia coop, but you may prefer the compelling geometric design of the Coopus Maximus or the whimsical, industrial-chic Chicken Circus.

You can follow the students’ progress on the blog here.

The third and final project next spring will be to design and build a public farmers market in downtown Windsor, the county seat of Bertie County, population 2000.

If you like what you see so far, consider making a donation. After all, this could be what the future of education might look like.

I certainly hope so.

This post originally appeared on opensource.com.

About Chris Grams

Chris Grams is Head of Marketing at Tidelift. He is also the author of The Ad-Free Brand: Secrets to Successful Brand Positioning in a Digital World.

Discussion

One thought on “Studio H: A real-world experiment in design-based education

  1. Hey, Chris,

    Thanks for your entry on Studio H. I just wrote about their latest project on my blog. You can read it at http://wouldntyouloveitif.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/teenagers-could-find-something-useful-to-do-part-2/. Please stop by and see what they’re doing a full two years after you wrote about them.

    Posted by Toña Morales-Calkins | October 14, 2011, 5:20 pm

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