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Design League 2020-2021

Over the past school year, these students spent hours working on projects that have explored the importance of human-centered design, social justice design, and the design process.

They acquired amazing skills that have given them deeper insight into the design process as well as their personal process in creating and developing insights to design for others. In the fall, they challenged themselves by building a face mask from scratch, while addressing small problems with masks that they noticed in their communities. In the spring, they opened their ears and hearts to hard-working individuals to understand and solve problems that complicated their essential work. 

What We Did This Year

Our Teachers

About our Class

What did we do this year?

In the Fall we used the Engineering Design Process and Human-centered design to innovate a face mask that filters out pollutants in the air from scratch with basic materials. Students brainstormed common problems they have experienced with face masks in their community and then design and tested their masks.


In the Spring used human-centered design, product design, and app wireframing to develop an app that solves an essential worker problem. Students interviewed a civil engineer, MTA worker, and teachers to draw problems they experienced in their work during the pandemic and developed an app solution that would make their job easier. 


Along our journey we had various guest artists visit us such as Renatta Gaui and Maya Man who shared how they work in the field of design traditionally and creatively.

Learn About The Skills We Obtained

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Image by Tools For Motivation
Image by Matias N Reyes
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What skills did we obtain ?

Basic Design Principles

Engineering Design Process

Function Versus Aesthetic

Human-Centered Design

Phases of prototypes


Paper Circuits/Electrical Engineering

Mask Design Challenge

App Wireframing & Mocking Up

User Flows

Human-Centered Design Interviews

Pitching/Leadership Practice

P5.js Coding

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Our Teachers

Trisha Barton, EdM

Teaching Artist

Trisha is a teaching artist with a background in Interaction Design and STEM/Maker Education and Creative Technology. She has researched the role of stress in education and how we can use technology to learn, explore, create, and connect.

Trisha has been a teaching artist with Design League since summer 2020 where the overarching theme has been to connect, liberate, and celebrate. She has used these themes to guide her pedagogy. The focus of the class was to approach design from an everyday perspective and allow the digital class to be a safe space. Trisha has seen these students grow in new ways such as building confidence to request and conduct an interview to learning and building patience working through an idea. The class spent a lot of time build questions that provide a detailed and free-flowing response. In this space, they learned the intricacies of a question and what type of information is needed to understand a problem. Trisha is delighted to see students better understand the steps of the design process and their personal practices with that. This cohort worked together to really understand a problem and develop solutions that work and transfer it into a design. Although they connected from home the deep conversations about Krispy Kreme, interesting taste in food, and challenging topics related to poverty, race, and class have bonded the group beyond time and space through memories. She cannot wait to see the amazing things these youth will accomplish as they continue to rewrite how we can liberate others with design. 


Zhanay Thomas

Teachers Assistant

Hello, my name is Zhanay Thomas and I am the teaching assistant for Design League. My duties fluctuate based on a need basis. Nevertheless, I am responsible for taking attendance, generating phone calls, sending out reminder/update emails weekly, and conducting the class ice-breaker. Throughout this course, I have witnessed the students evolved along with their projects. They were given an amazing opportunity to develop new skills and they accomplished just that. Like any project or task, there are highs and lows. I am grateful to have been here during their highs and lows to congratulate or offer support where need be. The most challenging part of the project was the development of open-ended questions that were going to result in an unrestrictable response. Students were not fully exposed to the difference between closed and open-ended questions. As a result of this, I decided to formulate the ice-breakers around that topic. Students were then given the opportunity to identify open-ended questions and better improve their knowledge on the matter at hand.


One of the biggest highs of the project is the moment when the students completed their interviews and were able to identify an issue that their respected essential worker encounters frequently. The best part about this is that they configured a plan to combat the issue almost immediately. These students have developed numerous skills ranging from basic to difficult ones. Some of those skills are as follows: Critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving, organization, responsibility, decision making, the ability to create a prototype for an app using Figma, and so much more. Just as the students have learned, I have learned as well. This journey has improved my communication, problem-solving, creativity, time management, public speaking, active listening, muti-taskings, and the list goes on. I am truly thankful to have been a part of this journey and I look forward to what's in store.

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