At Mount Vernon, innovation isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a daily part of life and learning. For the second consecutive year, Grade 8 students in Impact Design Lab (IDL) are taking on the challenge of reimagining the field games for Mustang Rally, our beloved annual spring carnival. This year’s project, much like the ones before it, exemplifies our commitment to student-driven learning and the application of designing thinking principles in real-world scenarios.

Checking in with Mr. Day, we got a sneak peek on the 2024 field game design progress so far, as well as a few possible new games (SPOILER ALERT below).

In interviews during the discovery phase of their design process, it’s evident that Grade 8 students have become deeply invested in making the 2024 field games not only engaging but also inclusive for participants of all ages. After speaking with both members of Grade 5, and Administrators in the Upper School, they recognized the importance of creating experiences that would resonate with older students while still catering to the younger ones. This insight led to a deliberate effort to revamp existing games and introduce new ones that would appeal to a wider range of participants.

One of the key takeaways from last year’s experience was the need for clearer communication and organization surrounding the games. Some of Mr. Welch’s students got a chance to interview Ms. Hudson, Director of Lower School, who shared insights from the lower school teacher perspective. Drawing upon this feedback IDL students identified areas for improvement, such as providing better guidance to both participants and facilitators. Observing a Grade 1 PE class helped IDL students gain valuable perspective on the amount of prescription and coordination younger students might need leading up to the field games on April 26.

Throughout the project, IDL students demonstrated a remarkable level of empathy and understanding, acknowledging the workload and responsibilities of teachers while striving to create an experience that would resonate with everyone involved. They understood the importance of setting teachers at ease and ensuring clear communication channels to facilitate smooth execution on the day of the event.

Gemma Hart, remarked “Teachers have a lot to think about.”

Central to this year’s project is the concept of mixed-grade interaction and camaraderie. IDL students recognized the potential for fostering connections between different age groups through collaborative gameplay. Whether it was designing relay races or tug-of-war competitions, they sought to create opportunities for students to work together, laugh together, and build lasting memories.

Dr. Wass’s class is specifically thinking about how best to get people on the field, thinking through the right numbers of kids in each group and the specific age groupings within each group. Caroline Amerson is a part of that group thinking through those details.

SPOILER ALERT! A new addition could be a dizzy bat, water cup relay?!?! Stay tuned…

As the project enters the design and deploy stages, and excitement building, it’s evident Grade 8 students have embraced the challenges and responsibilities that come with designing a beloved tradition like the field games at Mustang Rally. Their journey from capturing insights and “a-ha” moments in the discovery and define phases to ideating, sharing, and revising ideas in the design and deploy phases, is a testament to the power of student agency and the transformative potential of applying design thinking principles in an educational and real-word context.

In the end, Mustang Rally is about the memories we create, the connections we forge, and the lessons we learn along the way. This year, thanks to the innovative spirit of our Grade 8 IDL students, the field games promise to be more engaging, inclusive, and memorable than ever before. Get ready to experience the thrill of Mustang Rally like never before! We can’t wait for Friday, April 26!