Rethink Education @ Olin College

Oliners do big things. We drive startups, make humanoid robots, question everything. If you were around last semester, you may have heard whispers of a multi-school hackathon being hosted at Olin – a pretty big event.

True and false.

The Foundry, Olin’s entrepreneurship group, is hosting Rethink Education, a weekend workshop that will give local undergraduates the opportunity to think critically about revamping the K-12 education space through user-oriented design. On March 28-29, mentors, educators, K-12 students, and undergrads will populate Olin for the weekend.

It is our hope that the design thinking we introduce to attendees will become another tool they can utilize to tackle challenges in a meaningful, productive manner. Collaboration with like-minded students hailing from various schools and backgrounds will only fuel the fire. The odds are against attendees coming up with a revolutionary idea within two days, but we hope they will leave Rethink inspired to continue addressing the problems that they see.

What exactly is going to happen? Unlike a hackathon, Rethink will not be a sleepless event; exhaustion, which can work wonders for code, is detrimental to good design. But there are similarities. In teams of 4, attendees will mingle with stakeholders, identify a pain point, and develop an idea to address said challenge. The entire event will take shape over the course of twenty hours. The core ideas behind user-oriented design will be delivered in three phases (Empathize, Conceptualize, Develop) that will give the event structure.

In the true spirit of Olin, we’re approaching Rethink in the same fashion that we do our projects: iteratively. On Saturday September 13 from 10-5, we will be hosting a 10-15-person, small-scale, Oliner-only version of Rethink. This is your chance to take a step back to contextualize our education and work with people from other years on a topic that affects everyone (backgrounds play a huge role on how you learn and your approach to Olin) – which will in turn give us valuable feedback. As stated in a Carpe, sign up here by Tuesday night!

Some Questions You May Have:

Q: Why is the Foundry hosting a design-focused weekend?
A: To the casual observer, the link between design and entrepreneurship is tenuous at best. But design, as nebulous and indefinable a word as it may be, is important to identifying change that needs to be made. Yet design cannot exist in a vacuum. Entrepreneurship makes such change possible. Great design and great entrepreneurship make change longlasting.

Q: Why the focus on education?
A: Olin was founded as an experiment in breaking engineering education traditions. It only seems fitting that the theme of Olin’s first-ever design workshop be along those same lines.

Q: Stakeholders?
A: Yes! During the Empathize phase, K-12 students, parents, and educators will be present to mingle with attendees.

Q: Why should I attend?
A: In typical Olin fashion, this is an opportunity to facilitate change for a high-impact cause – age, major, etc. are never a barrier to entry. Unlike most Olin projects, there is zero-risk and zero cost associated. Think blue sky!

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