groton elementary:

think tank redesign

Independent Study | Fall 2018 - Present


Groton Elementary School has three 'think tank' rooms for their 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students to work independently. Currently, their rooms are only furnished with focus and attention tools, like bean bags and bouncy balls. However, since the room is typically unsupervised, only the 'responsible' students are allowed inside. My team of 7 under the guidance of Professor Duff is designated with redesigning the think tanks to supplement the children's individual learning styles. Each of the three think tanks has a budget of $10,000 to remodel, for a total of $30,000.

target group:

The students are the main target group for the redesign. The scope of our project also influences the system within the school, so we account for teachers and school administrators as well. Our focus is primarily on designing for different learning styles based on research and behavioral psychology. The three classrooms will be 'unified' under a theme.

Reinforcing the pillars of design: self exploration, mental health, & community


Project begins with a site visit.

Myself and another DEA student, Abigail Lerner, met with the principal of the school to tour the think tanks and understand the space. Before thinking of design implementation, we wanted to understand the school's operation, demographics, and environment.


Mapping the site and user interviews.

We looked at the floor plans of the entire school to find measurements specific to the 5th grade think tank. The 3rd and 4th think tanks were identical in size and design, but we designated our 5th grade tank to be the prototype. We also asked students about their thoughts of the current tank. Most of them liked having a space, but didn't like to use it often and would rather work in the hall.

Exploring themes with a more diverse group.

Four more people of various majors joined our team and offered crucial insights. Our first two proposals would be due in three weeks and we decided on two themes: Nature and Inspirational Figures in the Community


Revision of theme and design guidelines.

​Although the principal liked both themes, our group decided Space for the theme for our 5th grade think tank. Since the themes transition from 3rd to 5th grade, we believe that the gradient between ocean and sky would be nice to explore. So, the 3rd grade think tank would be based on oceans, the 4th jungles, and the 5th space. 

We agreed the decorations should not be too cliche and incorporated into the furniture, but as wall art and color scheme.

Think tank stations.

  • Literacy nook 

  • Art & design area 

  • Nature nook 

  • STEM zone 

  • Collaboration station 

february 2019

Construction of the prototype. 

Our team spent our weekends painting the walls of the 5th grade think tank. The school has contracted professionals to remove the whiteboards and unnecessary structures.  Myself and another team member design a space mural to be painted with future 5th graders in a "color-by-numbers" fashion.

MAY 2019
5th grade prototype opening

Opening day was finally here! Journalists from the Groton and Cornell community came to witness the new 5th grade think tank. We were also accompanied by 6 Groton Elementary fourth graders that would have access to the think tank in the upcoming school year. We drew pictures on the easel together, played with the lego wall, named all of the fish in the tank, and played a game of battleship! Although we weren't able to fully develop our envisioned prototype due to budget and time constraints, we were nevertheless able to provide an educational asset to the children of Groton Elementary. 


Fun Fact: The students have become so comfortable in the think tank now that they almost treat it like a home by taking off their shoes before they come in!

Video produced by Groton Press