Scope & Sequence

Overview of the Design Challenge


Design Challenge Overview

Students use the Design Thinking process to solve a problem, with the ultimate goal to launch a product, service, or campaign. The Design Thinking process is centered within a Human-Centered Design Framework and allows youth to actively practice using an entrepreneurial mindset. Watch this 1 min Intro Video.

Each Virtual Design Challenge will solve a different problem. For example, in the 2021-2022 Design Challenge, students will answer: How might we build powerful, thriving communities where everyone enjoys safety, wellness, and economic freedom?

Our goal is to help students develop social entrepreneurship skills and a civic engagement mindset.


The Design Challenge is broken up into six stages and takes approximately 10 hours of programming to complete (though supplemental materials can easily extend the challenge beyond 10 hours).

The challenge culminates in a pitch competition, during which students present a prototype that seeks to solve the challenge’s central question.

Wait? Where does the curriculum live?

  • The Virtual Design Challenge curriculum is online, at builduniversity.org. Teachers receive an Educator Toolkit and a Guidebook to help them with implementation. Click here for those resources.

Phases of the Design Challenge

+ Tools for Implementation



“Empathize” takes students on a journey with four individuals, or “clients,” for whom they will design a solution. Students explore interviews of clients through an immersive 360-degree photo experience.

Students watch videos and then pick a client. Once they have chosen a client, they need to record notes about that individual.

Tools for recording notes: Google Doc

In “Define,” students will define the core problem/issue for their client by creating a Point of View (POV) Problem Statement.

How? Using an interactive online “sticky note” app, students will come up with 20+ details about their client and then group together details that are similar. They’ll then choose one specific problem to solve for, and create a Problem Statement that will guide their creative problem-solving.

Tools for gathering & grouping ideas to find patterns: Padlet | Google Jamboard

“Ideate” is the time to generate as many ideas as possible on how to solve their identified problem.

Every single idea students come up with should go on a separate sticky note or scrap of paper. Once all ideas have been generated, students will cluster them based on themes & similarities. From there, students will choose the top three ideas.

Tools for gathering & grouping ideas to find patterns: Padlet | Google Jamboard

Students now need to gather feedback on their best ideas. Rather than sitting down and creating the solution in full, students will create a prototype–a rapidly-created rough outline of what their solution will be. They’ll then take that prototype to people in their homes and collect feedback.

Prototypes should be physical, a tangible model and/or experience that a person can physically interact with in order to provide feedback.

Tools for making prototypes (to name a few): Google Drawing | YouTube | Storyboard ThatThunkable

Examples of Prototypes

In this phase, students ask 1-3 people to test their prototype. The goal is to get their prototype into the hands of potential users in order to get feedback on how the product can be improved.

Students should take detailed notes on what the tester is saying AND what they are doing when they test the prototype.

Tools for testing prototypes: In person | On social media | Email

Pitch + Competition

Watch this Pitch animation: https://builduniversity.org/pitch/

The pitch competition is the culminating event of the design challenge. Students record a 1-3 minute pitch, during which they share their idea, show their prototype, and reflect on their experience during the design challenge. BUILD staff and/or external judges will evaluate the pitches, using this rubric, and select the top videos.

Tools for recording pitches: Loom.com | Phone | Zoom 

Tools for editing pitches: Adobe Spark | Adobe Premiere Rush | iMovie

Don't forget...



1. iPhone, iPad, Zoom and Loom are all choices of recording tools for their video presentation 
2. Record with both students and their presentation in view
3. Record horizontally for the best view of the students and their presentation
4. Follow Presentation Diagram to the Right


- Make eye contact with the camera
- Notecards may be used as cue cards
•Pro Tip: Notecards should avoid having a full script
- Even when you are not speaking, don’t forget the camera is still recording!
•Be aware of your body language while you and your business partners are speaking
- Everyone has an opportunity to speak
- Professional dress is encouraged
- Practice makes perfect
•Practice how you will transition from each speaker
•Project your voice when you speak​

Follow positioning format Above

Download a Sample of Our Curriculum

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