The Paco Project – A Serendipitous Opportunity

An amazing opportunity came my way thanks to my PLN to engage students in a real-world design thinking challenge involving Paco, a blind dog:

This could also be a chance for our MVIFI team to test out some tweaks to our DT/MDE methodology that we’ve been tinkering with in an authentic setting – real user, real problem, real designers.

But more importantly, it would be an incredible opportunity for students to witness their ability to make an impact through the work they can do.

I reached out to Noah Geisel to let him know we would be taking him up on his challenge. I also contacted the homeroom teachers in grades 2, 3, and 4 because this would be where I was drawing my designers from. I explained to all of them what my plan was…

I would be forming three grade level teams of student designers. Each team would have four students, two girls and two boys, each selected from a different homeroom. (Exception: One homeroom in fourth grade would have double representation, only because there are three homerooms in that grade level.) This would give me a total of 12 designers.

By sheer good luck, the timing of the challenge couldn’t have been better. The way my schedule works, the week before Spring Break I would only have two scheduled classes during the day. This meant that I could have three one-hour blocks of time to meet separately with each grade level team.

It was important to me that the teams meet individually. I was concerned that if they all met together, the teams would “converge”. Their observations would be the same… their questions would be the same… their ideas, prototypes, feedback, everything would be the same. I’m imagining there will be times later on where their work can be done together, but not in the formative stages of the challenge.

Further, it would also give me a chance to get multiple laps with the tweaks I mentioned earlier. We could them out for a spin to see what works and doesn’t work “in the field.” Can you think of a better way to test out a design thinking prototype than by using it to create prototypes? 🙂

Stay tuned for more updates on this project. I’m hoping to create a series of posts to share the experience these student designers are engaged in. Hopefully, serendipity will continue to shine… Paco is counting on us!


By Jim Tiffin Jr. (Cross-posted on my personal blog, Building Capacity)

Image Credits:






“Paco in his Halo”, from a tweet by Noah Geisel

One thought on “The Paco Project – A Serendipitous Opportunity”

  1. I volunteer with a pit bull rescue. I have 3 adopt-a-bulls myself. We take many dogs with all kinds of impairments. Basically, our rescue takes many that nobody else wants and would give up on. Please let me know if the students want another challenge dealing with awesome disabled dogs. I could give them a list to choose from. Thank you
    Cody Elliott’s Mom (kindergarten)
    Susan Elliott

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