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Innovation Nation: A Deep Dive into Design Thinking

Last month, under the guidance of Lincoln alumna and Bryant University Associate Professor of Applied Psychology Allison Gelfuso Butler ’96 and her team of eight students, Lincoln’s Middle School morphed into a design-thinking hot spot, where groups of students dove into the process, tackled real-life problems, and worked together to come up with unique solutions.

Now in its third year, Innovation Nation–a partnership between Lincoln School and Bryant University–teaches students to “fail early to succeed sooner” with the five-step design-thinking process that seeks to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. Based off of Bryant’s IDEA Program, Allison and her team spent three days guiding four different cohorts–comprised of students in Grades 6, 7, and 8–through a variety of activities that acquainted them with each step of the design-thinking process, all through the lens of an identified problem in the local community. Each cohort looked at a different question, and they empathized, defined, ideated, prototyped, and tested, all culminating with the final showcase, during which small teams of students presented their prototyped solutions to a panel of judges.

While the end results of Innovation Nation were undoubtedly impressive, the students’ complete immersion in this high-level, human-centered process was even more striking. They stepped outside of their comfort zones, looked at the world through the eyes of others in their community, and learned new ways to think about creating change.

Take a peek inside the Middle School Innovation Nation–and, in turn, what our future could look like thanks to the eager ingenuity of these design-thinkers–in this video!