Students take part in prototype trials for design thinking

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  • The ‘Social Innovation. Community 4.0’ competition encourages students to create workable solutions for problems faced by residents in the North District
  • The event was organised by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, in cooperation with Citi Foundation
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Students had a chance to get valuable feedback from potential users during the community trials of the “Social Innovation. Community 4.0” competition. Photo: Handout

Sponsored article by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service.

As part of the “Social Innovation. Community 4.0” competition, teams of secondary school students had the chance to show prototypes for the projects they have been working on to potential users living in the North District of Hong Kong.

These meetings were an opportunity to trial their products, get direct feedback from residents, and figure out what to fine-tune to better meet user needs and make their ideas more viable for the wider community.

3D modelling was used by the “North Mart” team from TWGHs Chang Ming Thien College to better present their ideas to residents.

Three Form 4 students, Jessica Wong Man-kit from TWGHs Chang Ming Thien College (TWGHs), along with Matthew Ng Cheuk-ting, and Wilson Lau Wai-ming from Bishop Hall Jubilee School (BHJS), were delighted with the reception their teams were given and how well things went.

The TWGHs team had created a series of activities, such as a district tour and flea market, which aimed to support women in the district and attract visitors under the umbrella name of “North Mart”.

Students design solutions to address problems in the North District

Meanwhile, the BHJS team developed an app known as “Aspiration” for young people to share their artwork by having it projected on to open spaces.

“We noticed that students who have long commutes, especially those who live in mainland China, do not have time for extracurricular activities,” Ng said. “We wanted to help them explore visual arts without the pressure of it being marked or judged.”

The team from Bishop Hall Jubilee School present their “Aspiration” prototype to residents. Photo: Handout

The app allows students to explore areas such as photography or drawing and to share their work with a wider audience, Lau added.

Once everything is in place, the BHJS team believe this artwork will bring more visitors to the area and give the district a chance to promote special “art walks”. During the community trials, one resident suggested that the pieces could be tagged so that viewers would know if the work was inappropriate for some audiences. For example, he said, some artwork may be considered offensive to Muslim residents and visitors. Another suggestion was related to privacy and intellectual property concerns. The team took these and other suggestions to heart, saying they hadn’t considered these issues before.

Students learn how to improve local communities

For Wong, a highlight of the competition was that her team was able to learn from the judges, other participants and members of the community. She also felt privileged that the North Mart project could help to empower women in the district and create new ways for people from other parts of Hong Kong to engage with residents.

By taking part in the trials, she also learned to be proactive when explaining how the scheme works to prevent any misunderstanding, and how to use effective questioning techniques to get useful feedback.

A student shows a potential user how her team’s prototype works.

In response to feedback from potential users about spending their time on North Mart, Wong said, “We further incorporated their comments into our prototype by developing a ‘time bank’ to allow participants to ‘save’ using our platform and give them the flexibility to use the time bank hours like money.” This helped potential users see how they could earn through North Mart.

Ng and Lau said they learned how important it was to be receptive to all kinds of comments. Some might not be positive but ultimately, they could prove very valuable. They also saw that a good sales pitch gets a better response, and that multitasking is an essential skill when presenting your case and handling questions from trial participants.

Extending learning outside the classroom can create a better Hong Kong

Overall, North District residents who took part were very impressed by the prototypes and the work done by the student teams. Their comments noted the high level of creativity and how the different ideas could improve the quality of life of people in the community.

The community trials mark an end to the 3rd “Social Innovation. Community 4.0” competition. The next focal district for the competition is Sham Shui Po, and applications will open for students in late October.

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