DMUSD students take part in sustainable design challenge

The Revolutionary Shores team from Carmel Del Mar and Del Mar Hills promoted recycling program at school.

On May 15, three Del Mar Union School District elementary school teams were included in the Design for San Diego (D4SD)’s Civic Design Challenge virtual summit.

The citywide design challenge drew submissions from professional designers, universities and K-12 students on the topics of creating a more sustainable city and promoting wellness amid COVID-19. The students from Sage Canyon, Carmel Del Mar and Del Mar Hills were the only elementary school projects to be showcased at the virtual summit.

Paula Intravaia, DMUSD design engineer, said the students had been working on their design thinking projects since the fall. While the virtual summit wasn’t ideal, she was proud that the district’s young students were given the chance to share their “brilliant” ideas.

A team of Sage Canyon kindergarten and first graders submitted a project on sustainable community design.

In helping to shape their design they met with a San Diego city program manager and learned how to make a community that promoted safe biking and walking.

The students built a “Complete California Community” —a community where all citizens are responsible and have the human rights of homes, food, water and clean air. Their ideas included mobility options, housing for homeless and edible community gardens.

Students designed a "Complete California Community"

A team of second through sixth graders at Carmel Del Mar and Del Mar Hills submitted Revolutionary Shores, an education corporation founded and managed by students to help reduce waste at school.

Students identified a problem at their schools in that campuses do not have effective recycling —they wanted to find a way to reduce the trash going into the landfill and incentivize participation in recycling and make it fun.

Sixth graders toured the UCSD Design Lab to open up their minds to possibilities and UCSD professor Steven Dow visited with students to brainstorm ideas. With Revolutionary Shores, the students came up with a tokenized system to encourage students to recycle—the tokens could then be traded for craft kits made from recycled materials sold on their education corp website.

Some of the feedback the team received from the summit was for the students to next consider how they will transition from rewards-based recycling to getting kids to go waste-free at lunch because its the right thing to do.

For their project, a team of Sage Canyon sixth graders in an art/technology elective class took on the task of reimagining their school library and tech labs as an innovation center that could better serve the campus.

Through campus interviews and fieldwork at the UCSD Design Lab, they came up with a design that created natural light, comfortable seating, indoor/outdoor spaces and flexible use—one student sketch even envisioned a rooftop deck. They incorporated sustainability into their design and, to reflect the current environment, they added sanitizing stations and considered physical distancing.