In the eighth grade design course, ISD students were challenged to consider the question of whether humans should ensure the sustainability of the Earth, or form a permanent colony on Mars. In other words, they asked themselves… “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”
Each student studied the question and chose a side of the debate. Kuba, a student from Poland, chose to remain on Earth. He explains that he, along with other members of the Earthling team, believed that while Earth is experiencing struggles such as climate change, greenhouse gasses and ocean acidification, humans are better adapted to live on the environment of Earth than on Mars.
Using what they learned about the design cycle throughout the semester, members of the Earthling team designed solutions to improve the sustainability of life on Earth. Individually, they built prototypes of their solutions, and then came together as a team to create a diorama of a future life on Earth. In the meantime, their classmates who had chosen to build a colony on Mars were working on solutions to sustain human life there, and creating a diorama of their own.
On a Friday toward the end of semester, the Earth and Mars teams came together for an exhibition to demonstrate their solutions before fellow ISD students, teachers and parents.
The exhibition was, Kuba explains, like a contest between the Mars and Earth projects, in which
it wasn’t enough to simply have the best models. “Maybe you created a beautiful project,” he says, “but then you had to sell it in a sophisticated way, or people would wonder if your idea was really possible.”
Kuba enjoys his ISD design courses, which he has been taking since sixth grade. He connects what he’s learning to business and entrepreneurship. “Design isn’t just creativity and thinking about what product you’re going to make,” he says. “It’s about many other aspects too. Even marketing. If you don’t tell the information right, you won’t sell your product or make a profit. Almost everything goes into learning about design. Analyzing, creating the ideas, making the design, and then the evaluation. The evaluation is important, it’s the mindset you have to have if you want your project to be better.”
So, which team prevailed in the exhibition? Kuba says there were great technologies proposed on both sides, but ultimately, he believes most people would choose to stay on Earth. It was harder, he says, for the Mars team to convince people that their technologies would work, and the Earth team could better help people envision their future.