For the first time during our Summer at Brentwood program, the Belldegrun Center for Innovative Leadership presented several interesting course offerings for students in Middle and Upper School. Over the next few weeks, we will spotlight several of these, starting with a Design with Purpose course through which students used design thinking to build customized toy cars so children with limited mobility could drive them. Design with Purpose teachers, Tracy Easley and Ronit Kumar, share their reflections from this life-changing experience, which impacted their students, the families involved, and themselves in profound ways…
"The Design with Purpose course was a perfect embodiment of the BCIL’s mission statement," said Mr. Kumar. "I was fortunate enough to engage in the real world challenge of transforming the lives of four families. The week was an incredible experience. By visiting different labs at UCLA and Children’s Hospital, we learned all about how doctors and clinical physicians use technology to assess the gait of their patients and even professional athletes. In class, I had the opportunity to teach electrical engineering concepts by modifying the power distribution of the ride on cars. We also practiced design thinking by interviewing the families and learning about the children and their specific needs. The week allowed us to be innovative problem solvers, courageous risk takers, effective managers, adept communicators, and inspired community builders."
And Ms. Easley explains, "The Design with Purpose Camp was incredible—in the span of 5 days, with the help of 16 middle schoolers, we transformed the lives of four families. The kids worked collaboratively in teams to overcome difficult challenges to modify the various cars. It was, by far, the greatest thing I’ve done with students at Brentwood—it made me appreciate where I teach and who I get to work with. And knowing how much we helped these families will stay with me the rest of my life."
Upcoming articles will feature the Global Health course, an Upper School elective co-taught by a USC Medical Professor that included a Panama trip to deliver health services, and the Middle School Entrepreneurship Institute. Stay tuned!