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High School Students Present Sustainable Solutions during Design: Think. Know. Do.

Design CampGraphic design as a visual language plays an important role for many organizations and people as a universal method of communication and understanding. This past week, high school students from around Ohio participated in the academic camp “Design: Think. Know. Do.” at Ohio Northern to learn first hand how important design is in our culture.

Design: Think. Know. Do. was a one-week intensive design camp at Ohio Northern University. The camp was offered through the Summer Honors Institute program for gifted high school students who were entering their sophomore, junior or senior years in the 2010–2011 academic year.

The camp was organized and taught by the chair of the art & design department Prof. Brit Rowe and co-taught by Adjunct Instructor Laurie Godfrey. Victoria Brake, a senior graphic design major from Forest, Ohio, served as the camp counselor.

“The camp ventured into the fundamentals of visual communication design,” said Rowe. Students used a variety of design methodologies and skills to find answers to how design can improve the experience of a recycling plan on campus.

“Working in teams, students investigated how ideas of sustainability can be applied to a community’s interactions, its economics and its physical environment,” explained Rowe.

The multidiscipline design project promoted creative solutions to a real-life problem. “Our aim was to teach students to think globally and act locally. The camp provided the students with an opportunity to have a direct influence on the visual and physical presence to an important issue,” said Rowe.

The students spent a few days researching and analyzing information to prepare appropriate solutions. The common conclusion was that while there were several stations of recycling bins around campus, the program needed a clearer and more consistent implementation across campus.

Students observed that bin placement was inconsistent, leaving users to wander around looking for an appropriate bin. From building to building, the bins didn’t match, were difficult to find, poorly labeled and functioned poorly.

Research also pointed out that bin slots were often the wrong size or shape, that bins were sometimes overflowing, and there was general distrust that bin content was truly recycled.

Soon after the research and analysis phase, the students brainstormed a variety of ideas to further develop a solution to the recycling plan. Such solutions promoted the value of recycling on campus through visual and practical means. The students’ plan consisted of implementing visibly functional, attractive bins with less ambiguous signs and symbols, and educational and communication strategies that included promotional posters and online materials.

Throughout the week, the students also learned about other major design fields. Presentations on architecture, environmental and landscape architecture, interior design, industrial design as well as graphic design were created to introduce students to the education, career paths and professional practices of the major design fields.

For the sixth consecutive year, Ohio Northern University hosted the Summer Honors Institute for gifted high school students. A number of different courses designed to provide in-depth study of challenging topics were offered over a three-week period in June on the ONU campus. The summer courses allowed the students one hour of college credit.

The 2010–11 academic year marks the 50th anniversary of the art major at Ohio Northern University. Growing from a single-discipline school, the department offers both the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees with majors in advertising design, art education, graphic design and studio arts with concentrations in two-dimensions, three-dimensions and art therapy. The department of A&D holds memberships in national organizations such as the National Art Education Association, College Art Association, Foundations in Art: Theory and Education and the National Council on Education of Ceramic Arts. The department is also recognized in the second edition of “Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers” as one of the best creative programs nationwide. For additional information about the department of art & design or the University’s 2010-11 Arts Exhibition Season, contact the department at 419.772.2160.

image: Students completing a design solution for a bin during this year’s summer camp
camp photos: Visit the camp’s photo album to see the students’ work and solution.