Collaborative Design for the Win in Creating Inclusive Products

For 5 years, Tekna has partnered with Michigan Design Council’s Design Prize in collaboration with K-12 students, tackling a design challenge that combats societal issues linked to Michigan and beyond.

This year’s challenge was to inspire healthy exercise for K-12 students.

The inspired team to tackle this challenge was made up of Branch Area Career Center 11th grade students Caleb Jones, Steven Covell and Brianna Omo with educator lead, Marvin Gage. From Tekna, Kyle Spieker and Tony De Leo provided guidance and insights from an Industrial Design perspective.

The Solution

This talented team created the Inside Recess Activity (I.R.A). The motivation of the game is to work together in creating an interactive lighting experience. The kids chose one device that best matches their capabilities and work to rotate the interactive LED lights in the middle. When the peak goal is reached, the LED spotlights on the device spin, light up and fun emoji’s appear on the screen. To ensure the design addressed many limitations, it includes multiple attachments (rotary, linear) and includes tension adjustment knobs to make for fair play.

Most people know the feeling of being left out, whether at lunch, in the classroom, during recess, etc. This design is aimed at eliminating that feeling by including all students who wish to participate, regardless of their abilities. This product brings unity and collaboration into the classroom as the kids work together. The more they contribute, the greater the lighting experience.

This collaborative team took 2nd place, bringing home a silver!

How this design enhances the quality of life and improves the human condition for MI residents

The design solution will create a level playing field for all early elementary students to join in on an inside group activity regardless of limitations. The kids that engage in this activity will find a new common ground to bond over.  On a greater scale, if we create awareness early on that there are many ways to make connections with people, it’ll build healthier habits as they grow into adulthood.

How Tekna was involved

To kick the project off, the students did an excellent job of outlining their problem and solution. From there, Tekna hosted the students onsite to challenge them to think further and build upon their foundation.

“There are so many benefits of being involved in the Michigan Design Prize each year. We are always so impressed with what the students come up with themselves and very rewarding to create additional impact on the project and open student’s eyes to what the creative field of Industrial Design has to offer. The idea of inspiring future Industrial Designers and showing students that their ideas and voices matter is what keeps us engaged in this program year after year”
—Tony De Leo, Principle Industrial Designer at Tekna

More About Michigan Design Prize

The focus of the Michigan Design Prize program is to open the eyes of younger students to the creative field of design, creating a hands-on experience with design professionals and helping them understand what Michigan has to offer.

For more information, check them out at

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