With six facilitators and two translators, KIDmob's first international workshop was a huge success! Yesterday's fast-paced design blitz took place at Rebuild Globally with twenty students (ages 14-25) from the apprenticeship program. Rebuild Globally is an NGO that creates a pathway out of poverty by empowering locals with jobs, and providing academic support. They do this through their mission of pulling trash off the streets of Haiti, making something with it, selling it overseas, and bringing income back to Haiti. Currently, they are cleaning up used tires and making sandals out of the rubber. The problem is that although they use most of the tire is in production, there is still some rubber leftover. This leftover rubber waste was the inspiration for our workshop curriculum!

During our time in Haiti, we have found that the educational approach here comes from the French, which means that a great deal of emphasis is placed on memorization and recall; basically the opposite of KIDmob’s creative problem solving pedagogy. However, we also discovered a cultural undercurrent called “rabòday,” or the “make it work” approach. It was in the spirit of rabòday that we mobbed Rebuild Globally on Saturday.

To begin the workshop we asked the students, “How many things can you do with a paper clip?”

After a downpour of ideas, and plenty of creative warm up, we shifted to tires. We gave each group a focus area - the tire as a unit (aggregate), deconstruction of the tire, integration of other materials, and physical properties (thermal mass, waterproof, etc.). Again, the space exploded with ideas in the form of colorful post-it notes, sketches, prototypes, and energy. Next, we jumped into the projects, and by the end of the day some incredible ideas were developed that Rebuild plans to test out and/or implement in the future!

We are excited to announce that eight of the students from Rebuild Globally will participate in our cross-cultural Youth Summit in April. Looking forward to the months ahead!

How's that for a new way to display sandals!

How's that for a new way to display sandals!


It has taken months, multiple visits to Haiti, and hard work, but KIDmob is very excited to announce that our first international workshop is this Saturday! We will be working with the students of Rebuild Globally's Apprenticeship Program. Rebuild makes eco-friendly sandals out of discarded tires. The opportunity: the sandals use most of the tire, but Rebuild has not figured out what to do with the remaining tire waste. This Saturday KIDmob will have a one-day design blitz to explore creative uses for the tire waste; perhaps for product display units or on-site seating. We are excited to see what the Rebuild apprentices come up with!

Next week we will head ten clicks down the road from Rebuild Globally to The Union School for a 3-day workshop with their students. The Union School is a pre-K to 12 educational institution with students from around the globe. We can’t wait to meet the kids! We are still narrowing the focus of the project for the 3-day workshop, but are very optimistic about working with the students.

In April, KIDmob will conduct the opus of our work here in Haiti: a 10-day design challenge called the Youth Summit! We plan to bring a crew of eight students from Indian Valley Academy (IVA) in Greenville, CA to Haiti with us. Each community group - Rebuild Globally, IVA, and The Union School - will present a need that they would like to design solutions for at the Youth Summit. Each team will choose a design challenge, and then they will have one week to execute the creative thinking process that KIDmob has empowered them with and propose or implement solutions. ‘The guys’ at iLab//Haiti will be our facilitators, along with US designers, and the KIDmob team. We can’t wait to see how all of our mobbing, teaching, ideating, and designing will come together at the Youth Summit.

But for now, KIDmob is really excited about mobbing Rebuild Globally this weekend, and we will keep you posted…


By Kate Ganim

Have you ever noticed that the way students are evaluated by teachers looks oddly similar to the way teachers are evaluated by administrators? Have you ever seen the parallel between administrators’ mandates being resisted by teachers and teachers’ mandates being resisted by students? Teachers decry the difficulties of classroom management, but have you ever tried to manage a classroom of teachers?

The school reinforces certain values and expectations in teachers and students alike. Which makes sense - it’s all part of the same ecosystem, after all.  

The values and expectations that have been common to the traditional school include: a top-down flow of orders and information, a singular definition of “intelligence” as measured by standardized tests, responding to failure with punishment, and a focus on facts and figures.

Great thinkers such as Ken Robinson have described this “factory” model of learning, as reinforcing students to be obedient and homogenous. This model proved very successful for preparing students to enter the Industrial Era workforce in repetitive factory jobs. Its relevance has waned as the Era of Information has risen.

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Those same values - obedience and homogeneity - have been reinforced in teachers over the years. For over a decade, The No Child Left Behind Act has given teachers clear directives on what to teach and how to teach it.

We are faced with a tremendous opportunity for mainstream education. Common Core is an invitation for cultural shift, for the school to bring its values and expectations up-to-date with the demands of this century’s job market.  

Most states are requiring their teachers to implement Common Core in their classrooms. After years of clear directives on how to teach, teachers have suddenly been granted the freedom to teach how they want. Under Common Core, in addition to teaching students what they should know (knowledge), teachers are tasked with teaching students how to think (skills) “for success in college and careers.”  Take, for example, Common Core Standard CCSS.Math.Practice.MP1: to “Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.” Who wouldn’t benefit from this skill in today’s world?

We recently had the opportunity to witness how educators are responding to Common Core, and to brainstorm approaches for its implementation. This happened at the Big Ideas Fest 2013 Conference, hosted by ISKME, in active breakout sessions called “Action Collabs.” These sessions were interspersed with TED-style talks, providing an innovative and compelling space to explore ideas with fellow conference-goers and take meaningful, collaborative action on important issues in education today. It was an incredibly powerful format: get riled up from inspiring talks, and then pour that energy into brainstorming real-world solutions. (Kudos to ISKME for developing such a brilliant and effective approach!)  

The consensus in our Action Collab was that educators are feeling panicked, confused, and unsupported by the new standards, and are grasping for more concrete direction. At the same time, they recognize the potential for innovation with the new standards, and are interested in finding a more effective approach.

The instinct of most educators is to jump to thinking about the student and the student’s experience, looking to make a remix of innovative solutions that have precedence within education. There were inspiring and exciting ideas abound. I think that all of the ideas we discussed could have worked.  

I’m not sure that’s a good thing.  


Leo F. Buscaglia said, “We seem to gain wisdom more readily through our failures than through our successes. We always think of failure as the antithesis of success, but it isn’t. Success often lies just the other side of failure.”                             

The onus is on educators and administrators to instigate the cultural shift invited by Common Core, and to offer each other support in doing so. What values and expectations do you want your school to impart?

Today’s “successful” student is a critical thinker and creative problem solver, who is able to work collaboratively, discover the answers to her own questions, adapt quickly and confidently to change, and who has technological fluency.

I would describe today’s “successful” educator and administrator in the same way.

Educators and administrators: Cultivate those 21st Century values and expectations in yourself. These are the skills that you will need in order to re-envision what you do and how you do it.  

Experiment. Use the 21st Century skills we expect of our students (eg, CCSS.Math.Practice.MP1 “Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.”) to hack your syllabus. Test your ideas in the classroom. Recognize that you will never discover your limits without pushing them to the point of failure - you can always scale back from there. No idea is perfect the first time around - progress comes most quickly from rapidly testing a lot of ideas: fail fast, and fail often. If you’re having fun testing an idea out, chances are good that your students will be engaged with it, as well. And if they’re not engaged, use those critical thinking and adaptability skills of yours to figure out why it didn’t work and how you can make it better. Take advantage of the incredible resources and communities available online to exchange ideas, like ISKME’s OER,, or Howtoons, to name a few.  

This is how we will catalyze true change in education.       

It will be messy. But messiness can cultivate delight. And exploration. And risk-taking. And plenty of failure.


Here's an image of the completed prosthetic hand - it was brought to an outing hosted by Helping Hands, a support group for children with upper limb differences, this past weekend. It raised a lot of interest for a potential future workshop! Thanks to Ky for finishing the assembly!



KIDmob recently submitted to the IDSA Design Learning Challenge, receiving an honorable mention for our work with Indian Valley Academy during the "Makerspace" workshop. The challenge is an annual nationwide event that catalyzes design in K12 classrooms. We are excited to read about all of the submitted experiences, great work everyone! Read more about the winners' projects here.

From their website: 

"The primary purpose of the Industrial Designers Society of America's Design Learning Challenge is to expose young students to design thinking and create an active awareness of the discipline of industrial design as a career option before students leave high school. Regardless of career choice, the potential life skills gained by understanding the design process alone offers value. The 2013 Design Teams are challenged to tackle a problem worth solving within their classrooms, schools, neighborhoods, or communities - the goal, is to create innovative outcomes that have positive impact."


We are excited to have created another new partnership with the California College of the Arts, this time with the MBA Department. We are working with the Social Business Ventures class to continue to iterate our business model. Looking forward to a summer of strategizing positive growth!


We are super excited to now be able to offer college internship hours for our design student Facilitators! We have also been working with NCARB in order to ensure that hours spent with KIDmob are eligible for the Internship Development Program. Yay!