How can we refine ideas into a clear solution? How can we learn from our failures and view them not as mistakes but as opportunities for growth? That is what we learned during our time at VCU’s Da Vinci Center for Innovation. We started our time at the Center with an informative talk about the future of higher education, the evolution of problem solving, and Design Thinking at VCU from Garret Westlake, the Executive Director of the Da Vinci Center.

We then dove in to the fourth stage of design thinking, Experimentation. As Allison Schumacher of VCU’s Da Vinci Center explained, Experimentation is all about taking the ideas you have developed in Ideation and setting how they will work out in real life. It is a process where failure pushes you forward, and the only really mistake is to not try things.

“Every problem is different. Every group of people is different. Every location is different. You must realize this so when you go out into the world you can focus on understanding the problem through the people it effects.” – Allison Schumacher

She explained the the process and the reasons behind each choice in the process such as  our use of basic materials because people are more likely to give and receive effective feedback on a quick, inexpensive prototype. Mrs. Schumacher also enphasized the value of the cycle of testing, altering, and retesting while encouraging us five right in and learn by doing.

“Fail continuously, fail fast, fail forward, and understand that failure is not the end.”  – Allison Schumacher

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“Don’t be afraid of crazy ideas; don’t be afraid of crazy people. Every idea is equally right and equally wrong so don’t be afraid of failure.” – Mrs. Schumacher