Every year, Cranbrook Schools Seniors participate in an experience called Senior May (SM). This experience “endeavors to provide opportunities for qualified Seniors to participate in experiential projects that promote the in-depth development of long-standing skills and interests, serious exploration of possible career choices, or the acquisition of technical proficiency in a new field.” Senior May students work at their host company for 3 full weeks in an intern capacity. This year Cranbrook Horizons-Upward Bound (HUB) tasked two seniors with continuing to develop the online learning management system (Canvas by Instructure) used to support the Blended Learning for Achievement in Mathematics (BLAM) initiative for HUB. I had the pleasure of coordinating this project and proposed to utilize the design thinking process—partly due to Cranbrook’s recent educational collaboration with MIT which has encouraged teachers to incorporate design thinking into their curriculum, and because of my personal experience in seeing the value of this process during the work Challenge Detroit fellows engage in.

SM students first learned about design thinking and were given background information on the HUB program. To gain a better understanding of design thinking, I had them attend the final Challenge Detroit presentation and a Detroit StartUp Week session titled, “Innovation Needs Diversity,” which covered various forms of diversity (thought, gender, ethnicity, profession, etc.), stressed the importance of understanding clients’ needs (via empathy), and the value of design thinking and similar processes in the business/entrepreneurship realm.

Checking out #detroitstartupweek with @cranbrook_schools Senior May students. #detsw17

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During the empathy stage, the SM students interviewed HUB students from three different high schools to gain insights into their needs, barriers, and motivations. SM students also interviewed HUB, Cranbrook and Detroit teachers to better understand the challenges they face, best practices, and the deficits they have observed in their students.

Armed with a wealth of information, and a process, SM students were able to redesign and improve upon the previous iteration of the BLAM online resource. They will present their findings, recommendations, and final prototype on Friday, June 2nd to Cranbrook’s Upper School Head, HUB’s Director, Director of Development, and Academic Dean, HUB and Cranbrook Math teachers, Senior May advisors, and other stakeholders.



Cranbrook Senior May Students Present at InstructureCon: BLAM