Infrastructure and design are part of so much of today’s world. From the roads we travel to the buildings we gather inside everything has been strategically designed to benefit our lives. But the way we interact with built infrastructure, products, and systems is changing. Under the influence of challenges like climate change, new technologies, and new goals, these elements of our world will surely look very different.
For this year’s challenge, the Ohio STEM Learning Network asks students to think about the structures and systems around them and envision how they can be altered to improve equity and inclusion.
Below, we’ve outlined resources on each of the three topics for this year’s challenge. Spot something we’re missing? Please share suggestions for additional resources using the simple form below. Then, we’ll share your finds with other educators across Ohio.
The built environment touches all aspects of our lives, encompassing the buildings we live in, the distribution systems that provide us with water and electricity, and the roads, bridges, and transportation systems we use to get from place to place. It can generally be described as man-made or modified structures that provide people with living, working and recreational spaces. Creating all these spaces and systems requires enormous quantities of materials.
Architecture is generally thought to be a creative field where the form is derived by sudden inspiration: the memory of something beautiful seen in the past, and interpretation of something that catches one’s attention in the present, or any other source of inspiration.
As a designer, it helps to draw inspiration from other disciplines now and again. The world of modern and contemporary architecture, for example, has produced some truly jaw-dropping monuments to human ingenuity and aesthetic sensibility that are certainly worth a good look.
Can public spaces both reclaim the past and embrace the future? Landscape architect Walter Hood has explored this question throughout an iconic career, with projects ranging from Lafayette Square Park in San Francisco to the upcoming International African American Museum in Charleston, South Carolina. In this inspiring talk packed with images of his work, Hood shares the five simple concepts that guide his approach to creating spaces that illuminate shared memories and force us to look at one another differently.
More than 8 million people are crowded together to live in New York City. What makes it possible? In part, it’s the city’s great public spaces — from tiny pocket parks to long waterfront promenades — where people can stroll and play. Amanda Burden helped plan some of the city’s newest public spaces, drawing on her experience as, surprisingly, an animal behaviorist. She shares the unexpected challenges of planning parks people love — and why it’s important.
What changes can you make to an existing system to improve equity, efficiency, or access for people in your school or county?
Imagine: You’ve spent months working on a new product. You feel like you’ve crossed all your T’s and dotted all your I’s—but then the feedback comes pouring in that… your product isn’t as inclusive as you think it is. You’re stressed out, reactionary, and probably defensive. Ultimately, it feels like, despite your best intentions, you’re unable to create a product that’s true for everyone if you’re only one person—so why even try to create for those who are different than you?
New product design is a lot like art. Creativity and vision come together to produce something new, attractive, and bold. But product designers have a different set of challenges than the artist. Product designers have to create with the users in mind. Their creations need to be useful. They need to be accepted into the homes of consumers where, instead of being mounted on the wall, they go on the bathroom sink or in the kitchen cupboard.
What changes can you make to an existing product so that it is more equitable, accessible, or eco-friendly?
Seema Bansal forged a path to public education reform for 15,000 schools in Haryana, India, by setting an ambitious goal: by 2020, 80 percent of children should have grade-level knowledge. She’s looking to meet this goal by seeking reforms that will work in every school without additional resources. Bansal and her team have found success using creative, straightforward techniques such as communicating with teachers using SMS group chats, and they have already measurably improved learning and engagement in Haryana’s schools.
Suggest a resource