Local students named Michigan Design Challenge finalists

Krystle Wagner • Updated Sep 28, 2017 at 1:30 PM

Two groups of Grand Haven students are working with professionals to make their ideas take shape.

Through the Michigan Design Council’s challenge, students throughout the state were challenged with developing a way to make winter safe and fun.

Beth Ingall’s team from Mary A. White Elementary School and T.J. Klumpel’s team from Rosy Mound Elementary School were named as finalists, and worked with industrial designers to make their products come to life.

The Michigan Design Council selected three finalists and two honorable mentions in each category — grades K-5, grades 6-8, high school and collegiate.

In October, the teams will take their final designs to Ann Arbor for a celebration.

Its director, Katrin Robertson, said the council has been impressed by the entries, and it’s “stunning” that children are capable of so much creativity.

The challenge started as a way to highlight industrial design career opportunities in Michigan. Robertson, co-founder and co-director of Wholemindesign and a teacher-educator at the University of Michigan, said the state has the most industrial design careers in the country.

Last spring, teams developed and submitted their ideas.

The Mary A. White team with Ingall, a first-grade teacher, is made up of now second-graders Emma Bryant, Quinn Miller, Kolten Sander and Mary Pugsley. 

The Rosy Mound team with Klumpel, a fourth-grade teacher, includes now fifth-graders James Friggens, Denver Campau and Claudia Busse. Klumpel’s group also worked with teacher Sarah Magro and students Luke Cousino and Selena Keller, and Meredith Bolhuis from Jenison.

In keeping children and safety in mind, Ingall’s group designed a sled that features a seat belt, handles and fuzzy helmet. It also includes a place for a stuffed animal to sit when the helmet is being used.

Pugsley, 7, said they also wanted to make the helmet something kids might like.

“We wanted to make kids actually want to wear the helmet,” she said.

Klumpel’s team developed a sled that can be put together like Legos. Whether the snow is fluffy or good for packing, 11-year-old Friggens said people can build their sled to adapt to the terrain.

To take their designs to the next step, students worked with professionals in the field. Ingall’s group worked with industrial designers from Tekna Inc. and Klumpel’s group worked with Stryker.

One of the designers who Ingall’s team worked with attended Lake Hills Elementary School when he was the students’ age.

Klumpel’s group met someone who designed Spiderman toys and another made dental tools.

“It was really cool to see how they did everything,” Friggens said.

Pugsley said working with the professionals helped her step outside her comfort zone. She said it was initially scary to share her ideas because she doesn’t like telling people what she thinks.

Pugsley said it felt “cool” because the adults took them seriously and wanted to know their thoughts on how to make their design look how they had envisioned it.

Being the people who gave adults instructions made them feel a sense of authority, Friggens said.

“It felt like we flipped the table,” he said.

Through their participation, Robertson said she hopes students “see themselves as a person who can be creative and think of innovative solutions no matter what age they are.” She also hopes the students have an awareness about what it means to be a designer.

Friggens said the challenge helped him learn about the importance of teamwork to accomplish a goal.

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