Wednesday started off with one of our tastiest UnSchool traditions: a pancake breakfast! Being in São Paulo, this time we cooked them up Brazilian-style with tapioca starch.

With full stomachs and sugar buzzes from the dulce de leche (out-of-control amazing caramel sauce), we hit GO on the day. Ruy Lopes de Barros welcomed us at The Impact Hub and gave us the scoop on what they’re all about. He told us that they work as “connectors of social innovation.”

Murillo and Mohammed chat over breakfast

Murillo and Mohammed chat over breakfast

What does that actually mean? At the Impact Hub, they feel responsible for connecting community and running towards “coherence” by trying to improve communities around the world. Ruoi explained that “We need more disruptive thinkers to help break barriers in society” and that is why he was so excited to host the UnSchool!

Leyla and Ruy from the Impact Hub introduce the session

Leyla and Ruy from the Impact Hub introduce the session

Then... Boom! We took off into a fast-paced session, wherein Leyla explained that “reflection is a feedback loop”  through which you’re evolving and building on what you did previously. We then jumped into her favorite session, gamification and game theory. Fellows started to explore what game theory is and looked at how monopoly was originally designed to demonstrate the evils of capitalism (it seems like the game potentially had the opposite effect).

Leyla Acaroglu UnSchool founder and Ted speaker

Leyla went onto explain that play is not just for kids, and that work is her play! She must be onto something because even Plato agreed to this as he wrote “life must be lived as play.”

The takeaways were:

1. You need to know the rules before you can break them

2. Gamification is using game mechanics in non-gaming environments

3. Curiosity is the gateway drug to changing the world
 

We then had an incredible mentor session with Dr. Stuart Candy, an experiential futurist on a mission to bring foresight to life. He’s aiming to use immersive, participatory and guerrilla futures interventions! He is awesome (in case that wasn’t obvious based on the last two sentences), currently serves as the director of the Situation Lab and is a professor at the world’s first hybrid-design foresight program at OCAD University in Toronto.

Stuart Candy UnSchool mentor

Stuart Candy UnSchool mentor

Stuart lined our fellows up like sausages on a barbecue and asked them to identify if they feel Optimistic or Pessimistic about the future. He then asked the fellows to identify if they feel that they personally can have an impact on this future. All this set up a live human matrix of optimism, pessimism, and everyone’s own perceived ability to have impact on their future. Fellows then spoke about why they put themselves where they did on the matrix. (Note: the game was originally invented by Peter Haywood, from Swinburne University in Australia).

After a quick caffeine recharge, Stuart started to talk about how he is a “professional futurist” and explained how he helps people to think systematically and creatively about life. He framed it as a way of creating museum’s of tomorrow. Instead of reflecting on the past, as museums do, his process allows for reflection about the future! (If you want to see some of our favorite futurists’ projects, you can check out his blog.)

Mentor Stuart Candy wrapping up his session 

Mentor Stuart Candy wrapping up his session 

Stuart then went into a guerrilla futurist activity (sounds a bit wacky, but bear with us). It’s basically the interface between tactical media and strategic foresight “because this allows us to imagine futures for ‘serious purposes.” How better to break this down than to play the Thing from the future game? We don’t know, so that’s what we did. It was a fast-paced, creative and fun way to explore solutions for the future.

The fellows came up with some quirky, yet awesome solutions to fit their randomly generated scenarios. Here are just a few of the ideas fellows came up with: “mood boobs,” poo-art (we told you early on that our fellows are cheeky), and a chip you can put on your face to change the way you see people, so you are no longer irritated by their frustrating habits!

Playing the Thing from the Future 

Playing the Thing from the Future 

Stuart closed with some insightful comments like “Be the change you want to be, and simulate the rest.”  (That’s Ghandi x Futurism, people!) He also said that it’s important to show people the future and not just tell them what it could be. He believes that the gift  we can give to those we interact with, is the invitation to think more broadly. After our session with him we are for sure thinking more broadly -- thanks for the gift, Stuart!

One team did a beautiful visual journey for their product tear-down!

One team did a beautiful visual journey for their product tear-down!

After that, we had another amazing mentor session with Kyle Wiens. He is the CEO and Co-founder of IFIXIT.com, the repair community for open source materials and product tear downs. His explanation of the IFIXIT mission, to make repair sexy, took our fellows on a pretty exciting journey. He virtually proceeded to dissect random machines, with the procession of a surgeon.

Kyle also spoke about how repair is way more efficient than recycling, which makes sense because as you extend the life of one product, you don’t need to replace it and consume more. So…. reduce, reuse, REPAIR, recycle! (Ultimately repair and reuse help that super important first one of reducing.)

Kyle explains some tricky design work as one team does a tear down

Kyle explains some tricky design work as one team does a tear down

Linking back to our mentor Luisa’s work, Kyle spoke about the importance of creating a circular economy for our products. Which, obviously includes repair!

He also spoke about the importance of innovation. For example, he asked us to think about major drivers for increasing the number of women enrolled in school. Would you believe one of the drivers was the Washing machine? Because it frees up so much time and the house chores like washing clothes used to be (unfortunately) the woman’s responsibility.

We then got our hands dirty to understand what’s inside machines and why repair is important. Fellows were given a coffee machine, a camera, a phone and  a 64-bit driver kit to perform a tear down. Two of our fellows managed to use their MacGyver skills to fix an alarm clock in the process! Fellows then rated the repairability of their allocated item on a scale from 1 to 10.

Victor and Thessa take apart a broken laptop

Victor and Thessa take apart a broken laptop

Once the rating had wrapped, Sara and Arturo surprised the fellows with a “reflection time dance.” We think the fellows must have have gotten confused by the term reflection, because in the beginning they all mimicked what Sara and Arturo were doing (maybe their dance moves are just that good). After dancing it out a bit, our alumni-turned-co-hosts pulled their reflection group together and provided fellows with 4 hats: feeling, facts, caution and benefits. Fellows went around in groups and discussed what they had learned with respect to their various hats during the day’s sessions.

Group dinners with the mentors around town

Group dinners with the mentors around town

After reflecting and removing their metaphorical hats, fellows were treated to small dinners with our mentors. The fellows were divided into three groups, and each group had dinner with one of our amazing mentors -- Garance Choko, Kyle Weins or Dr. Stuart Candy.

Fellows Valentina, Kalina and Anastasia 

Fellows Valentina, Kalina and Anastasia