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Design thinking leads to meeting a need, solving a problem, and constructing a product that creates the pathway to more innovation.  Take our students at Ridgeview High School.

The Client is a local photographer in Central Oregon.  She was looking for a photo lightbox that was a certain size, but also could display flowers in a way that would produce better quality photos. Meet Joseph, a junior at RVHS, and an avid CTE student of Mr. Cory O’Neill. Joseph has been taking CTE classes at Ridgeview for a while now and is one of many students that has designed his own learning by setting up an independent CTE class with Mr. O’Neill’s guidance to help design and construct products to help solve problems for others.  

Joseph uses the skills that he has learned in previous CTE classes but is also using new tools, like a full spectrum laser cutter, to enhance and grow his learning of design. In asking him if there was a deadline, he said that the photographer was pretty flexible, but was close to finishing the photo box. This allowed for time to learn some new skills, practice and perfect others, and create a final product that all could be proud of.  This is a great example of how students at Ridgeview are putting their skills into a career like practice.

Asking questions, getting feedback, practicing, failing, redoing, and learning along the way makes for a great partnership with students and community members. But Joseph is not the only student with an independent project. Approximately 20 students each trimester meet with O’Neill to discuss a project and timeline.  In doing so, students get certified on a variety of machines that will help them complete their specific project.  From a 3D printer to a CNC mill, students have an opportunity to learn as they design. 

Other independent projects shared with me included designing signs for a local business and designing a special cup holder for a car. What a great way to inspire interest in improving the world not only for ourselves but for others, too. Check out the story on Instagram here!

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