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The D3 Lab is a collaboration between the New Learning Insitute, the Pearson Foundation, and COMMONstudio. The D3 Lab is one part idea lab, one part design and production facility, and one part "do tank." It is a place where students come to nurture and cultivate ideas, tackle big and small problems, and take action. The D3 Lab meets students where they are. Students start with their interests and use them as a launching point to drive their own learning experiences. As designers, students address core subject matter including reading/writing, math, and science in a contextualized, situated manner. D3 Lab programs lead to transformative learning experiences, and relevant and more meaningful participation in school and in the community.
"D3" represents our design thinking methodology, Dream It, Design It, and Do It. Design thinking begins with identifying a real problem in a space in which students are invested- such as their school or neighborhood. After researching the problem, teens work in teams to brainstorm possible solutions. The students choose the most promising solution, develop prototypes (built examples of possible solutions), and then conduct testing using their prototype. They get feedback from adult mentors, teachers, and their peers; then, the students design an improved prototype. After several iterations, students develop a final project that addresses their problem or issue. Ideally, their final work is implemented within the school or community.
Whether it takes the form of collaborations with teachers, classrooms, or directly with students during informal learning times during the school day, the D3 approach strives (1) to tap into student interest, (2) to use this interest as a starting point for teens to make connections between their own agency and their community, which is broadly defined, and (3) to engage teens in doing something (produce, build, create, paint, mobilize, etc.) which translates their initial interest into a real and relevant outcome (project, event, garden, mural, art exhibit, etc.) that impacts others in some way.