As part of our education outreach, Bay Area Lyme identified a need for an interactive, informative, “nature-museum” style experience that would help teach children about Lyme disease.

Knowing that young people are often incredible problem solvers and innovators and eager to tap a community with direct empathy for our target market, we approached D-Tech High, a new charter school in Millbrae, with a design challenge. We asked the students to design an educational and engaging, self-contained, “children’s museum-like” experience to spread awareness about Lyme disease and provide children with tick-bite prevention tips.

The goal of what came to be known as the “Tick Learning Kit project” was to build and prototype something that could be easily shipped to outdoor science schools throughout California and set-up in the schools’ on-site nature centers. The intent was that the exhibit be interactive, informative, and memorable so the children think to check themselves for ticks whenever they’ve been outdoors.

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D-Tech was the perfect partner for this creative project as design thinking is built into the curriculum, plus, certain weeks of the school year are set aside as “intercessions” so students can devote more focused time to working on a specific design challenge. With experienced industrial designers to mentor and guide students, Bay Area Lyme was optimistic that the students — all high-school freshmen — would rise to the challenge. Plus, we felt that high-school students — being closer in age to our target audience and possibly having younger siblings they could tap for live feedback — would have a great chance of designing something appealing and memorable for kids.

Two weeks after the launch of the project, Bonnie Crater, Chairman and Founder of Bay Area Lyme, Linda Giampa, Executive Director, and Jo Ellis, Director of Education Outreach, were presented with the prototype designed by the students. The “Tick Learning Kit” featured all of the necessary attributes that would be appealing and informative to the target age-range, and the D-Tech students learned a tremendous amount about Lyme disease in the process.

The next steps are for the D-tech students to test the effectiveness of the kits with 5th-grade children and fine-tune their product in the fall. They are sharing the materials and then having students participate in a quiz to see how much they learned from the exhibit. They are also collecting feedback from teachers and students and will incorporate that feedback in the final design. We hope to raise enough money to fund manufacturing the final product so that Bay Area Lyme can supply the Tick Learning Kits to every outdoor science school in California for free.

You can watch a video of the students talking about their experience here:

Read D-tech’s own blog posting about the design challenge here.

Learn more about Bay Area Lyme’s Educational Outreach here.

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