Design challenge portal launched, plus materials from our kickoff

To kick off the 2020 #STEMdrivesOhio Design Challenge, we hosted a launch event at the COSI Science Center. Teachers learned about Smart Mobility and how to implement a design challenge at their school. As a resource, this post summarizes the day and provides links to bring those ideas into your classrooms.

We’re also proud to announce the launch of The site will serve as your one-stop shop for understanding how to participate in the #STEMdrivesOhio Design Challenge, resources on Smart Mobility, the basics of running a design challenge at your school. Finally, don’t forget to sign up for our emails about updates to this site and other design challenge news.

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Now, back to the kickoff event. Teachers at the event attended sessions to begin to think of the technological, social and economic impacts of transportation issues within their communities and in the world at large.

To start the event, the group heard a message from Dr. Jack Marchbanks, Director of the Ohio Department of Transportation about how the S.M.A.R.T. model of assessing modern transportation can focus your student’s solutions. This model addresses the five pillars of the changing transportation market: Safety, Mobility, Access, Reliability, and Talent. These pillars show the complex systems involved in mobility and offer a starting point for teachers to introduce research options to their students.

YouTube video

Hook activity from SMART Columbus

Following this introduction, teachers participated in a hook activity developed by SMART Columbus designed to get the participants to imagine what it would be like to have a variety of personas with different mobility challenges.

Participants received a schedule of events to complete throughout the day. At each turn, different transportation challenges blocked completing the schedule.

For advantaged characters, navigating the obstacles is not that difficult. But for handicapped characters or those with limited financial resources, the challenge can be impossible.

This exercise forced the teachers to think about how every person struggles with unique transportation issues the limits of transportation options. This experiment can also benefit your students who might not ever think about transportation issues and get them thinking of how other students and adults deal with poor transportation daily.

Experience Center

The teachers then explored the SMART Columbus Experience Center and saw how Columbus is pursuing a multimodal platform to decrease these daily challenges and bring the city into the future of transportation. With solutions like remote sensing intersections and autonomous vehicle research SMART Columbus seeks to make Columbus’s roadways safer and more accessible for all residents of the city. This center is open for tours every day of the week and Education and Programming Lead McKinzie Harper accepts requests from schools to introduce the topic directly to your students.


Sessions included how to run a design challenge and a mini-design challenge called the Paradox Prize.

In “Design Challenge 101” the PAST Foundation explained the design cycle and how that process can be used to manage the student solution development throughout the school year. They invited participants to the upcoming P3 Applied: Smart Mobility training where teachers can further address the #STEMdrivesOhio Design Challenge.

Rich Granger from Drive Ohio presented on the “Paradox Prize.” Beginning with a documentary on transportation challenges in Beavercreek, Ohio, the session showed educators how to implement exercises from the Paradox Prize, a competition organized by the Fund for Our Economic Future.

Expert Roundtable

After all that learning, teachers had plenty of questions about where to find support. We brought in experts from different mobility organizations along with experienced design challenge organizers and gave educators the chance to network and get questions answered. The roundtable included:

Bringing experts into your school to share their knowledge about the design challenge topic with students is an important way to show the real-world relevance of the experience.

You can view more pictures from the day in our Facebook album.

If you’re ready to sign up your school to join, visit our Participate page to register. Just looking to stay informed? Just sign up below.

We can’t wait to see all the solutions created by your students.

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