The Minnetonka Middle School East Student Innovation Team, made up of 31 brilliant students, used human centered design to partner with Gopher Sport and Moving Minds, two physical education and classroom equipment companies, to create the StorageSaddle™.
The StorageSaddle™ is a storage sack that hangs off the edge of a student's chair into which students can put school supplies that they do not wish to have on their desks. The StorageSaddle™ also includes a padded seat cushion.
The idea for a product like this was created through a brainstorming session of "how might we" questions through the Human Centered Design Process. With the help of many interviews and observations of fellow students, the team highlighted two key ideas in the process: first that the chairs students sit in are uncomfortable and second that there is little to no space for the students to store their school supplies in the classroom that is within reach.
"The students were looking for an opportunity to store all of their belongings near them without cluttering their working space in the classroom," said Laura Fletcher, senior product developer at Gopher Sport who worked with the student innovation team on the project. "[The students] were able to use their own real life experiences within the classroom to form the general idea for the product," said Fletcher.
The original idea was to completely replace the desk and chair with new ones that included whole new extra features. After giving the idea some thought, the students thought of a more cost-effective product that can be added to any chair with ease. From there, the design StorageSaddle™ was made.
The team tested out their product on fellow MME students to see how it would work and to also get some feedback. After many students realized that they were losing smaller items in the sack, the team added a separate pouch for pencils and other small items. After the adjustments were made, the final product was developed.
"What's great about this project is the student designers recognized a real need, through Human Centered Design, and came up with an innovative yet reasonable way to solve it," said Julie Baeb one of two co-facilitators of the innovation team along with Lisa Reed. Student innovation teams such as this one truly showcase the talents of Minnetonka students. They "help improve the student experience for everyone here in Minnetonka," says Julie. Julie and Lisa recently had the privilege of sharing the prototype with the students of the team at a staff meeting at MME.
Both Julie and Lisa know that our world is changing drastically, and with that change comes new innovation. "Automation is changing our world drastically, creativity and innovation capitalize on the power of humanity over computers," said Lisa. "These students had a chance to see what can happen when you put humans at the heart of design with Human Centered Design."
With the prototype finished, the StorageSaddle™ will become a new product for Gopher Sport sometime in the near future.