Located in Lafayette, the Alexander Dawson School is an independent, college preparatory day school founded in 1970 and serves students from kindergarten through high school. Recently, 6th graders at the school teamed up with Western Disposal for a month long design thinking challenge rooted in a real Boulder County problem: How can we convince families to act on the necessity to divert waste in Boulder? This effort was coordinated by the Boulder Center for Interactive Learning at Dawson (www.bcild.org), an education non-profit situated on the campus of Dawson School and RuthAnne Schedler, sixth-grade math and science teacher at Dawson School.
In order to solve this complicated problem, students learned to ask thoughtful questions, build understanding and empathy for the affected constituents, and engage in collaborative teamwork with one another and with Western Disposal. Together with the students’ teachers and Western, the students committed themselves to the process and responsibility of tackling current issues and experienced problem solving in the real world.
The students identified numerous barriers impacting recycling rates, and through the design thinking process, developed a potential solution to overcome lack of access to recycling occurring in many public spaces throughout the county. They dubbed this solution “Twin Bins” with the idea to ensure that wherever there is trash in a public space, there should be a “twin” recycling bin next to it. This was an excellent solution developed by the students as it was both catchy and provides a practical solution.
Says Ms. Schedler, “This type of community and school collaboration is the vision for Dawson School and, I believe, the future of education. Students used and developed success skills such as mediation, participatory discussion, flexibility of thought, and critical analysis.”
Western was proud to participate in this effort and recognizes the importance of encouraging students to think critically about the issues impacting their community and recognize their ability to make a difference. And who knows, maybe you’ll start seeing Dawson’s Twin Bins around the community soon!