Design Lab: The Last Update?

Design Lab ended…

The semester was officially over on Friday, and with it goes an amazing class that I will never forget. As a quick rundown, Katie and I made a slideshow for our project which we presented to the class, some administrators, and two of the designers from the business PlusUs. I think it went really well given that we only had 8 minutes to present our entire project from start to finish, and everyone else also did a great job.

After the presentations on the 18th, Katie and I have just been cruising along with rest of the class as we couldn’t really do anything in a week and a half. Mr. Heidt surely knew how to keep us busy though, and he planned for us to have a guest speaker on the 25th and another final discussion/presentation to the assistant superintendent for the last day. The guest speaker was really interesting, as Mr. Heidt invited his friend Steve Dunning to come in to have a discussion with Design Lab and the film class at our schoolimg_3665, since Steve is a producer for Hollywood. It was cool to talk to someone who has worked in such a hard business, and he spoke a lot about the challenges that come with designing and being creative.

As for the final discussion, we used it to act as a reflection on the class for its first run. All week we had been talking about how the class needed to improve and what we did well on, and a lot of it was very similar to the points brought up in our Successes vs. Opportunities discussion. The major points we brought up to the assistant superintendent was how the class would be way better if it was a year long, students should be able to take the class a second time, and we really need to fix how the class is graded. So far, the only grades we really have are our blogs, which is basically nothing for some people. We came up with a lot of ideas grading-wise, like how our presentations need to be graded with rubrics we design to fit our own projects, and we need to have tangible updates to show Mr. Heidt our projects’ progress.

The classroom redesign so far! (with the giant table we built)

I got a little carried away with the updating, but this post is actually supposed to be a reflection on my time in Design Lab. I really loved the class, and as an academic person it was really nice to have a class where I could go take a break from normal school and be creative with so many amazing people. I’m naturally very introverted and shy, but this class really helped me find my confidence to speak up and share my ideas to people, whether it was collaborating for projects or presenting to the administrators.


My three favorite things we did in class this year was redesigning the classroom, making our library redesign reports, and Katie and I preparing for our big meeting with the administrators. The classroom redesign was just flat out fun, going crazy with everyone as we just imagined everything we wanted out of the room. The library report was a bit stressful to get done, but I felt so productive getting a tangible product completed. Also, the library redesign was the first time the whole class went to the chalkboard to work through our ideas, teaching us all about the value of collaboration (cheesy, I know). Finally, the mindmap Katie and I did before our meeting was a huge learning point. Being able to see out trains of thought and ask the rest of the class for ideas was the best thing our open study project could’ve hoped for, and I think it helped that project become as big as it did. The meeting ended up not being successful, but we impressed the administrators and especially impressed the assistant superintendent who asked Katie  and I to stay after the discussion on Friday to thank us for our effort (so proud!).


So, about the class itself. Design Lab definitely has room to grow, but I think it had an amazing first run. This class is something that not only challenges the education system, but it allows for students to learn things that they can apply to their lives at this very moment and beyond. The open source aspect of the class was the most important part to let us truly be designers, as we were completely free. If we had more time, I think the possibilities for our projects and their potential would have been incredibly big.


To grade myself on my progress for this class, I would give myself an A. In Design Lab there are always going to be people who are just there for an easy grade, but this class connected to me in a way that made it more important than just a credit. I learned so much about failure and accepting it, and my passion for the projects we did I think shined through especially on the Ghenglish project, which Katie helped me so much with. I love blogging and thinking about what we’ve done, and I love doing something that feels like it matters in a class where I could gladly be myself. I enjoyed my time so much with the little community Design Lab built, and the lessons I learned here are unforgettable.

P.S. We got class t-shirts and we’re making an advertisement for the class! I don’t have pictures of either yet, but when the video is released I might post an update to show everyone 🙂

Also, check out what PlusUs said about us here! I used some of the awesome pics they took of us, they were so much better than ours.



One thought on “Design Lab: The Last Update?

  1. Reblogged this on Only Connect and commented:
    The first iteration of Perkiomen Valley High School’s Design Lab is over. Here’s one student’s reflection on the semester’s successes and opportunities.


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