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Young scientists to discover the power of the team with Design Thinking

    Bulgarian students are world-known about their accomplishments in the fields of mathematics, informatics and science. To train their minds and get ready for the future challenges of the science and the world, some of the best high school students get together to work during summer vacations, at events like Summer Research Camps. Bulgarian educational entities like the Bulgarian Academy of Science are happy to have SAP supporting them. So the summer endeavor УчиМИ had just started with the SAP mentors on site ready to help with research projects, when our enthusiastic group of four  Design Thinking(DT) coaches arrived at the camp hosting town – Blagoevgrad – for a four-hour workshop.

    Design thinking is a totally new methodology for the students and as it turned out, it addressed many more topics than just finding innovative solutions to complex problems. A lot of surprises for the participants in the workshop, as well as for the coaches marked the day as a successful one.

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The space, the team, the approach

    While colorful sticky notes and moving flip-charts might not be the most entertaining material for teenagers, the ability to draw fancy personas and define Point of View with creativity turned out to be the most ice breaking and surprising part. Funny things proved to be actually helpful for achieving results.

The space, the team, the approach

    The team was the key element here. The summer camp involves mainly individual or very small team research assignments. So no one would believe that after 4 hours of lectures and exercises the team of  6 would achieve something meaningful and professionally looking. The best part of it was that everyone got to know more about the other mates from the summer camp, how brilliant everyone is and how they can collaborate on any topic. Design thinking = team building 🙂

The space, the team, the approach

    You can imagine how fast those bright young people absorbed the theoretical part of DT. Expected I’d say, having in mind that those folks solve NP problems for breakfast. So they were also fast in putting it into practice – carefully listening to their coaches’ guidelines and remarks. What was unexpected was how modest they were- especially when filling out their T-shape profiles. By the end of the workshop they had already showed another side – being collaborative and open to each other. They were even discussing the future development of their prototypes.

The results

    We used the “Whose life is it?” exercise to fit in 4 hours and keep everyone awake 🙂 Starting with a set of photos, the teams had to fill in a questionnaire about the person whose life they represent, and then create the persona, the point of view, and think of the best mobile app to make those person’s life better.

The photos for someone’s real life turned out to be the most complex task – how can you be sure what exactly would the person be? Is there only one correct answer or those photos could belong to 10 different people? The part with defining a mobile application to help that person was a piece of cake for everyone.

Let’s see what the final output of the investigations on the persona and the crazy brainstorming and prototyping afterwards was.

    Pleasure finder – for those kinds of people, addicted to work, for those who willing to spend quality free time – Pleasure Finder will help you locate the best places to go to and best people to have fun with according to your personal preferences and feedback from other users.


Helga’s assistant – the life of a really busy assistant could not be easier with their personal mobile app assistant to help them not only manage their working schedule but also manage their free time and hobbies – like cooking and seeing drama movies.


Turu Guru – how can a mountain tour guide survive in a foreign country without a cool app to help them plan their routes more effectively and prepare the group for the special weather and location-specific conditions? Tour guiding has never been easier before.


Duty Swap – well you might be too tired to take the dog out for a walk. But there are people there who are longing for a nice run with a dog. Those very same people who are too tired to deal with garbage every evening after work, something you would rather do than going out early in the morning. Duty Swap is the place you can meet people to swap your duties with and eventually find new friends!


The insight

The students outlined positive influences it in their feedback forms – they felt more inspired to innovate on their research projects , they learned something new to boost their creativity and they proved that you can finish an assignment with remarkable results for less than 4 hours, together with your team. Well, they also wished they had more time for exercising DT practices and the CPP(candies per person) index could be increased, but those challenges are left for the DT coaches to cope with for future workshops.

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