Venture Sparked from Observational Journaling

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Project Description

In the fall of 2015, some of the newest members of the iDiploma team were just learning how to do what we call observational journaling. This simple task of capturing and recording a curiosity or wonder as you go about your day can truly be an incredible spark for project work. One particular iDiploma member snapped a picture of an overgrown garden in the back of the Upper School and wondered what we could do with that space. This initial question led a team of iDiploma members down a pathway to identify and engage with faculty who might know about this forgotten garden, but what they discovered was an even bigger more systemic problem that led them to pose this provocative question: 

“How might we make sustainability a part of our DNA at MVPS?”

It became clear through interviews, that while MVPS teachers, students, faculty, and parents all observe the importance of recycling and being an environmentally sustainable school, more can be done to make MVPS a leader of environmental sustainability. Inspired by this realization, Margaret White, Anya Smith, Maclean Peterson, and Philip Emmanuelle formed the ReSpIn Organization which strives to Reduce waste, Spark conversations, and Inspire change around 21st century sustainability.

The first product to come from the ReSpIn team is called the RISE Sustainability System. This system is meant to be a learning tool for teachers and students to use in order to help facilitate conversations and activities around sustainability. The product is a space saving waste and recycling bin in one made out of cardboard in a way that allows for anyone, of any age, to set up the RISE bin on their own. This clever design allows for classrooms to set up their own RISE bin and use that experience to jumpstart the learning.

Accompanying the RISE bin, will also be a curriculum guide for teachers. This guide gives some potential activities for students to do that would get them thinking about sustainability in a way that relates to each different class per grade level. This additional guide is what makes the RISE Sustainability System more than just another piece of furniture, because it will get people thinking about why we recycle and save resources while considering how we can improve our methods to make for a happier tomorrow.

Project Details


  • Product Innovation
  • Design Thinking
  • Project Management

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