A global call for high-school students to create human-centric solutions using “Whole System Design Thinking” or “Design Thinking” process.

Human-Centric Solutions

is an approach to product/solution development that puts people first and focusses on user needs, desires and abilities at the center of the development process.

Whole Systems Design Thinking

is an approach that aims to integrate social, economic and environmental factors, interrelationships, and phenomena into a comprehensive design solution.

Design Thinking

is a non-linear, iterative process which seeks to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions.

Multi-Layered Aerosol Repellent Facemask Design

Process Used: Whole System Design Thinking

Author: Arjun Nanduri, Grade 9

High School: Lake Nona Highschool, Orlando, FL, USA

Publication Date: March 10, 2021


The purpose of this research article is to address the overwhelming infectious rates of airborne diseases resulting in many deaths throughout the world. This problem has brought to question the effectiveness and utility of current facemask solutions. With rising death counts day by day, a functional solution is needed. My solution design, a new cost-effective mask uses a multi-layered solution to step-by-step ensure pathogens are barred from entry, differing from conventional surgery masks and other basic solutions. Furthermore, in comparison to other multi-layered masks, this solution design fixes the air you breathe combining both aspects of charcoal to purify the air and a new technology in the form of hygroscopic wool, trapping excess moisture within along with the pathogens, outclassing other masks. Using biomimicry, such as the nanoscopic bumps of the lotus leaves (or similar hydrophobic material) further prevents the moisture from entering, thus allowing the creation of a better and more efficient mask, ensuring the air you breathe is free of aerosols when using this mask.

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A Sustainable and Futuristic Landfill Design

Process Used: Whole System Design Thinking

Author: Kennesha Garg, Grade 9

High School: American High School, Fremont, CA, USA

Publication Date: May 20, 2021


16% of anthropogenic methane originates from landfills because of anaerobic decomposition and ineffective landfill gas (LFG) extraction. Leachate, or toxic water that permeates through trash, risks contaminating the groundwater by seeping underground. My solution mitigates this impact by using biomimicry, green chemistry, and industrial designing, and it ensures that different safety systems and protocols are present to make landfills into sustainable and reliable architecture. Not only does my solution address today’s needs, but also takes the evolving future into consideration by creating annual revenue, utilizing modern technology, and bringing us one step closer to reducing climate change.

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Innovative Leaf Inspired Microgrids

Process Used: Whole System Design Thinking

Author: Erika Tragin, Grade 9

High School: Skyline High School, Sammamish, WA, USA

Publication Date: July 24, 2020


The current electric grid has been contributing to climate change, not well protected from natural disasters, and is not resilient, resulting in blackouts.

This research aims at solving the problems of our current electric grid. It was inspired by nature’s models that have evolved overtime to solve similar problems effectively and sustainably for structures, safety precautions, energy production, and distribution.

My design targets the use of renewable energy, flexible, resilient, and scalable microgrid structure, and modern computer systems to better benefit the economy and the consumers.  This solution uses the “Energy-as-a-Service” operational model and it addresses the 3Ds – Decentralize (Microgrid), Decarbonize (Renewable Energy Sources), Democratize (allow small energy production farms and consumers to contribute)- that are much needed in the energy sector.

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