“She’s trying to make the library more fun”

Today my innovation group and I finished our project! It’s called the Mind Lab. You might be wondering why we would call something a Mind Lab, and what the project is even about. My English teacher had an idea about a 30-day innovation project, where we were allowed to choose what we wanted to create, whether it be change or t-shirt logos. There would be no teacher involvement (unless we were struggling with something), which allowed us to dig deep into our creativity without having to stop production.

With the help of my English teacher I was able to decide what I wanted to do, which was to create a relaxation area in my school. Everyone knows how stressful it is to be a high school student, and I needed to “feed a need” so this was the perfect idea. Kids would be able to relax with squeeze toys, or play a calming brain game. I had trouble finding people who wanted to join my one party group, but eventually I found Angela and Vivian , turning this one party group into three.

Our first step was to figure out how we were going to make this happen, so we scheduled what we were going to be done with by a certain date. We called our project the “Mind Zoo”, which our teacher suggested for the time being.

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We were planning to build put a bookcase in the school library and fill it with different types of puzzles and stress balls. We were going to raise the money by selling baked goods and that’s where things really kicked off.

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We wanted to sell cake pops, chocolate covered strawberries , and cookies so I shared Angela’s poster onto my facebook. While Angela created the poster, I started a kickstarter on gofundme.com. I thought the kickstarter would bring the majority of the money in, but unfortunately we didn’t get any donations. I could see why, being that I only knew a couple of teenagers that carried a debit card, so after realizing the money wasn’t coming in, we focused our main attention on selling baked goods.

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Week after week we started cutting down the prices, eventually four dollar cake pops turned to two dollar cake pops, and we added a couple more varieties of sweets like m&m cookies, and mint and plain brownies.Angela made the cake pops, I made the cookies and brownies, and Vivian made chocolate covered strawberries.

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Since Angela was mostly selling treats the first week, I decided to head over to the strawberry festival. Bad marketing strategy. When you go to a local place where teenagers hang out, to sell brownies, people get the wrong idea, but I did sell some brownies. I headed over to different neighborhoods around me with the remaining brownies, and luckily they sold out. I also started and was in charge of our instagram page at missionmindlab and updated our progression of getting this project finished. Eventually we made enough money and realized we needed less than what we estimated. We bought a shelf and I bought the puzzles and knick knacks. You’d think you could find puzzles in one place, but that’s not true. I had to go to Barnes and Nobles, Target, World Market, Michaels, and Daiso Japan.

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So I bought the puzzles, all we had left was the shelf. The shelf we bought was coming in later than we expected, and this was the most stressful part of this project. Finals was coming up, and we had this problem where none of us had a car big enough to bring the bookcase in. At this point, I felt like I was alone in this project, I was constantly making calls and trying to get a hold of my teammates if they could do the same, but I didn’t have much luck. Luckily I found this guy who was willing to bring in the bookcase by Monday morning. I faced another problem where the person who was supposed to pick up the bookcase ,slept through his alarm and was told that he could bring it by the afternoon(which was fine). But then my family members got involved, and to spare you the ugliness—it got stressful. The lack of communication in our group, led me to figuring out how to get out of this mess, alone. I didn’t have the resources at all to bring the bookcase in, and nobody was responding to me, everything was just too much. We should have organized who was responsible for what, to avoid something like this. But hey, this was a good lesson to learn.

Another thing that that our group needed to improve on, was trying to equalize the amount of work we had to do. There were a lot of days where each of us were busy, which delayed our schedule. I’ve learned that before creating anything, make sure to have reliable sources and to understand the sacrifices you need to make. If you plan something, plan it thoroughly to understand what you will be dealing with.Our project would have been less stressful if we weren’t so busy, but overall it challenged us to work harder.

Eventually we got the bookcase in and started building. Things got a lot better once we started building, assembling the shelf was actually kind of fun. We all spent our morning,lunch, and afternoon building, and we finished right in time. I’m grateful that Angela and Vivian were able to sacrifice their own morning,lunch, and afternoon to help finish this project. There were also other people that helped us in the construction of our bookcase, whose names are :Sandy Tran, Natalie Pham, and Anthony in Angela’s french class. This is a special shout out for the people who volunteered to help(along with Angela and Vivian of course), including the librarian who let us put the bookshelf in(Ms.Sharon): YOU GUYS ROCK! 😀

Day 1, assemble

Day 2, connect the pieces together

I forgot to mention the change from calling our project “Mind Zoo” to “Mind Lab”. We decided on calling our project the Mind Lab because ideas can come from anywhere and providing a de-stress station could help develop it. Mind Zoo has a connotation of chaos, and the puzzles were about critical thinking and the stress toys a refresher, so in that sense, the Mind Lab was a more appropriate choice. It was also because in stereotypical labs, we picture scientists creating things, and by trying to figure out a puzzle—you create different strategies and pathways.

Now that our project is finished, anyone can come by the manga section in the library(located in front of the computer lab) to relax by playing brain games and squeeze toys. We invite everyone to stop by, with the exception to take decent care of the knick knacks as you would with a library book.

Finish!

This was a great way to end the year, I’m glad we were able to succeed in our innovation project. I’ve never come across a project where I was able to create something on my own. I had hands-on learning where I learned about getting a business known through social media and figuring out how to make an idea come to reality. This is definitely an experience that’ll stick.

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