First Ascent Scholars participated in a Design Thinking Challenge in collaboration with the Utah State Office of Education and the Stanford d.school during a week-long orientation just before school started.

The challenge, held at the Snowbird ski resort, asked students to design the perfect backpack for their partner. Conducting empathizing interviews, students defined their user’s needs, brainstormed solutions and created unique prototypes to meet their partner’s needs. Designs included such innovations as gadget holders, weight-distributing mechanisms and quick-unsnap straps.

“I have experienced design-thinking twice and have to say it is a challenge, especially with the critical thinking involved,” said First Ascent Scholar Florecita Martinez Torres. “What the activity had us do was ask our partner what their ideal backpack could contain to get an idea of what our partners liked. Then we had to get an idea of who our partners really were by interpreting what their words meant. For example, if my partner liked the color blue, I might interpret that he likes being calm and soothing.”

Martinez Torres said she has been able to apply what she learned to other classes.

“The challenge actually came in handy when my writing class made us ask a partner questions about themselves to find a deeper meaning,” she said. “I was one of the few students who knew what to do and how to interpret the answers. The Design Thinking Challenge was a difficult but fun experience.&#