The 24-hour design challenge had been introduced the night before, and finally in the morning teams got what they had all been waiting for… the brief! The UnSchool team had worked with the challenge partner, SINGA Deutschland, to craft a brief that included a problem statement, constraints, requirements and background information that the fellows would have to work with while applying the disruptive design methodology to come up with an intervention for positive change.

SINGA supports refugees coming to Germany and connects them with locals to work on projects together, with a particular focus on helping refugees build businesses. One of the major challenges that SINGA faces, which the fellows had to address, is how bureaucracy and systems inhibit access to key services that people need to settle in and really live and grow (professionally and personally) here in Europe. For example, newcomers can not rent apartments, can not get credit, etc. Vinzenz from SINGA came to Ahoy in the morning of Day 6 to introduce the organization and answer questions that the fellows had about the brief. Then teams were given their own temporary offices here at Ahoy and the 24 hour countdown timer began!

unschool berlin 24 hr challenge singa

As minutes and hours ticked away, teams applied various approaches to exploring the systems and agents tied to the problem. Walls and table were covered with systems maps, stakeholder maps, storyboards, and more (Edding had generously provided us with these amazing “magic-charts,” large static writing sheets that cling to surfaces and can be erased and reused!).  Emotions were high as teams worked under the clock, to tease out leverage points, resolve team dynamic challenges, ideate ways that SINGA could intervene to increase access for refugees, and prototype their best ideas.

unschool berlin 24 hour challenge

Leyla and team members made rounds throughout the afternoon and night, agitating teams to embrace the messiness, reframe, “cut through the frothy stuff” and prototype with something physical. At midnight we called it a night at AHOY – teams were given free range of what to do next (work through the night or get some sleep to have an early start). At 8:15 we were back at AHOY and back in action. Fellows did “working breakfasts” and prepared for practice pitch and feedback sessions with Leyla.

prototype unschool berlin 24 hour challenge

When the 24 Hours were up, fellows had to pitch their ideas for interventions to a panel of judges, which included Vincenz, from SINGA.

unschool berlin fellows present 24h challenge
unschool berlin 24h challenge judges and fellows

Fellows gave engaging presentations on a range of interventions and received critical feedback from the judges. After they were, done a judge’s choice was announced and then ellows moved about the room to select a popular choice winner. We then popped some champagne to celebrate and gave out prizes!

champaign trolley unschool berlin 24h challenge

After celebrating, we had a delicious vegetarian lunch, cooked by a Syrian catering company here in Berlin (thanks to SINGA for the recommendation!). After satisfying our post-challenge hunger, we dove into a reflection session, led by our alumni co-hosts, and looked back on all 7 days of our adventure together.

unschool berlin last day
unschool berlin final day reflection
unschool berlin reflection
unschool berlin pile of fellows