Program Adaptation in Response to COVID-19


In response to instructional changes due to COVID-19 we have extended the submission deadline to April 17 (6pm, Pacific time). Our hope is that this will provide participating teams enough additional time to complete their projects and submit them for review. We are also considering options for adjusting some aspects of the judging process. A priority will be place on providing comments on all submissions and selecting exemplary projects for public recognition before the formal end of the school year. We will keep you informed of any changes. 

While we recognize that project outcomes will likely look different this year, we encourage you to empower your students to embrace their creativity and problem solving abilities to adapt to these unique circumstances. It is historic moments like this that have inspired some of humanity’s greatest innovations. We remain committed to celebrating youth innovation and encourage you and your students to join us by completing the YDC project to the best of your ability. In trying times like these, the world needs to be inspired by your students more than ever!

Project Modification Suggestions for Remote Online Learning

  • This page is a work in progress! Check back for additions as we continue to build out these resources. (Last update: 3/26/20)

The transition of many districts to online-only instruction creates unique challenges for the type of group collaboration integral to the YDC. To support you in this shift, we offer this collection of ideas and online tools to consider for modifying the final design steps and submission requirements.  


Online Collaboration Strategies and Tools

The first step is to choose one or more ways for the students to connect with each other to share ideas and documents, and to complete the group project. Base your choice on team members’ ability to access the technology or software. If students are not familiar and comfortable working with whatever tools or platform you choose, you will want to demonstrate how it is done and let them practice with you.


Communication and Document Sharing Platforms 

  • Audio calls. Smartphones allow students to talk one-on-one or in groups. Most phones have the capacity for multi-person calls. You can also set up an account with FreeConferenceCalls.com. 
  • Video conference calls. Many people in today’s working world do not share offices, but instead work from home and meet virtually. Now students can practice working collaboratively while meeting face-to-face online. Here are some commonly used free video conferencing platforms.
    • Google Hangouts: Hangouts requires a Gmail/Google account. Go to the Hangouts website or open Hangouts in Gmail. Then you can invite others. Screen sharing of documents and desktops is a feature.  Google also offers a Teach from Home resource website with information about how to use their tools.

    • Skype: Each person needs to download the app and set up an account. Screen sharing of documents and desktops is a feature.

    • Zoom: You can set up an account for your class or team, schedule meetings, and share the meeting link with the students. Breakout Rooms on this platform allow you to meet as a class first, break out into smaller groups as needed, and come back to the larger group when done. Screen sharing of documents and desktops is a feature. Zoom is also offering additional free services to schools during the pandemic. 

    • Many video chat apps are also available for mobile devices and desktop/laptop computers. You or your students might know about other video conferencing services.

  • Document sharing. Your school may already have a system in place for students to share documents. If you don’t, some options are provided below. After choosing a platform, the next step is for you and your student team to upload all documents that they are working on. You can also upload helpful documents and handouts from the YDC website that you want students to use. (e.g. Action Plan, Team Self Assessment, etc.)

    • Google Drive allows students to upload and organize documents and presentations into folders, and to collaboratively and simultaneously edit them. Google also offers a Teach from Home resource website with information about how to use their tools.

    • Google Slides is a version of powerpoint that multiple users can edit and can be downloaded as a pdf.

    • Microsoft One Drive offers similar collaborative document and presentation development and sharing as Google Drive.   

    • Emails. Documents and presentations can be shared in group emails. Make sure students add numbers or dates to the document file names to identify the latest version.

  • Digital Workspaces for Collaborative Ideation. 

    • Google Jamboard:  Free digital whiteboard; uses a Google account.

    • Miro: Free digital whiteboard; account creation required.


Strategies for Online Collaboration

  • Establish a routine for virtual team meetings-- full team meetings, students meeting with each other and checking in with you. You can check in with them individually, and they can provide feedback to each other in pairs or a small group. Make sure each person knows what he or she needs to get done before the next team meeting.

  • Determine how team members will work together. Options include: dividing responsibilities for different parts of the project among team members; having multiple students work individually, then share and combine their ideas on a video call; and/or having one student start work on part of the project and then pass it to another student for further development and refinement.  

  • When you meet, review what has been completed and what still needs to be accomplished.


Modeling and Prototyping

You might need to change your previous plans regarding how students model and test their design solutions. Here are some options to consider.


Ideas for Model-making While Working Remotely:

  • Instead of a physical model, make a detailed design drawing. Drawings could be made by hand (then scanned or photographed), or produced using software.  Encourage students to include multiple views that show different sides or magnify key parts. To enhance clarity of the model, suggest adding notes about size, the materials, or how it would be made. 

  • Create a storyboard (series of drawings, like a comic strip) showing how the design would be implemented or used. Each student could complete a piece of the storyboard.

  • Use simple craft materials that can be found at home (scrap cardboard, tape, etc) to build a model that represents the idea or a key part of it. Models don’t have to be functional in order to learn from them and refine the idea. One student could be designated the “model-builder” and communicate regularly with teammates to incorporate feedback.

  • Use 3D CAD (computer aided design) programs to build a digital model of the design concept. Many free CAD programs are available.

  • Other Free CAD software resources for beginners and kids


Suggestions for Testing and Refining Design Ideas

Although students may be working at home, that doesn’t mean they can’t still test out their ideas in some way. A great way to do this is by talking with experts, potential users, and other stakeholders to get their opinions and suggestions.

  • Students could email images and information about their design to local experts and/or invite them to meet on a video call where they can show their work and ask questions.

  • If you have multiple teams, have them offer constructive feedback to each using the Peer Feedback Loop activity in the Instructional Storyline. 

  • If it is possible to create a physical model, students could come up with simple home-based testing strategies for testing one or more key aspects of the design.


Preparing the Pitch Video

Many students are quite skilled at creating videos on webcams, smartphones. Many free video-editing apps exist. Some apps require download to a device, others work in the cloud and support group collaboration. Here’s a collection of options, many of which have free versions. Provide students with guidance about which tool(s) you want them to use. 

  • Refer to the Video Pitch Tips resource for suggestions you might be able to incorporate. 

  • Have students plan their video by writing a script together (using the document-sharing platform).

  • Each student could individually videotape or voice record a segment for the video and upload it to the document-sharing platform. The clips can then be reviewed as a group and assembled online (in a cloud-based application) or one person could download and combine the pieces into one video on their own device. 

  • As a team, you could record the screen of a virtual video conference call with students talking sequentially or in unison. Most video conferencing platforms allow screen sharing so that students can talk about uploaded images, documents and presentations as part of the video presentation. Many platforms also have integrated recording features.

  • Give students the flexibility to come up with other creative ways to create the video for their design submission!