Skip to main content

Design Lab in the Era of COVID-19

Last update: May 7, 2020

Letter to Our K-12 Community: How we approached this like a Design Problem

May 7, 2020

Dear Friends,

The cancellation of Design Camp 2020 was a significant loss for the Design Lab. It was to be our 40th Anniversary of our largest, most immersive and longest-running program. (We can’t wait to be able to hold the program again, hopefully next year.) Camp cancellation, quarantine, limited operations on campus, and other related disruptions of COVID-19 presented the Design Lab staff with the ultimate Design problem: how do we keep creating and offering design education opportunities to our K-12 community when we can’t connect with them in person, on-site? As all good designers do, we approached this as a design problem and considered the problem, our users, the context, our limitations, and our resources to come up with a solution for this summer. The following gives you a look at our process:

  • Problem:  How do we keep creating and offering design education opportunities to our K-12 community when we can’t connect with them in person, on-site?
  • Users: Our K-12 Community – Students, Teachers and Parents – especially the middle school and high school students who were hoping to come to camp this summer! 
  • Context: Everyone’s stuck at home, possibly having plenty of challenges and distractions to their focus on learning, probably sharing space and schedules with others, most likely tired of being stuck to screens all of the time, and looking for exciting ways to learn within the confines of their quarantine site. 
  • Parameters/Constraints: Social distancing, quarantine, limits of online platforms, no access to campus, limited access to materials and making space.

Under the circumstances, it would not be right to say we are offering “Design Camp Online” this summer. The Design Camp experience is multifaceted, immersive and life-changing. So much of it is about being on campus, living the design life, and engaging with the community we create – each summer, together we create a “place” that is Design Camp – that only exists there and then, amongst that group, but lives in hearts forever. As corny as that sounds, many of you know it to be very true. Design Camp isn’t something that can be replicated through video chat, emailed or posted online. The experience wouldn’t be the same. To do so would be like getting an elephant to wear a toddler’s blue jeans – it wouldn’t be a good fit, make sense, or be comfortable for anyone!

However, the Design Lab is much more than just Design Camp! And there is much that CAN be done using the power of the internet, with the resources we have. 

Therefore, we are excited to announce: This summer the Design Lab is going digital! 

We are going to take this unfortunate event and use it as an opportunity to try some new ways of engaging our K-12 community. We’re a small staff with a lot of friends (design faculty, alumni, and students) and have been reaching out to get many of them involved. We’ve got a great lineup of programming underway, which we will be debuting throughout the summer. 

To tune in for our summer plans, subscribe to our YouTube Channel, look for us in your Instagram feed, and get ready to get out there and learn by doing in our Digital Workshops. We’ll also be sending things out in our newsletter and getting a fresh new look on our website! Details and content to come – We can’t wait to share these things with you! 

In Other News: 

  • All Design Camp 2020 Refunds have been issued.
  • At this time, Design Lab staff continue to work remotely.

April 3, 2020 Update:

We hope you are all staying well during these challenging times. We know you all have been looking forward to camp this summer, as we have been looking forward to the opportunity to work with you. The COVID-19 outbreak has presented unprecedented challenges for us all, and we truly appreciate your patience with us as we have been navigating its impact in recent weeks.

We are able to confirm the following:

  • NC State University has declared that all summer programs, including camps, must be cancelled for summer 2020. Unfortunately, this means we are announcing that we must cancel NC State Design Camp 2020.
  • We will be providing full refunds of all camp fees paid (including deposits).
  • Refunds must be processed individually. As we are a small staff, we appreciate your patience with us while we carefully process each of your refunds.
  • The University has limited the amount of Credit/Debit Card refunds we are permitted to process each day. It is our goal to have all Design Camp refunds processed on our end by May 1, 2020. Depending on your bank, it may take longer to see the refund reflected on your account statement.
  • Refunds for Checks and Money Order Payments will be processed through the University business office. Please note that this process has a few more steps, and may take additional time, as NC State staff are not operating on campus at this time. We will be in touch with those who have submitted checks as soon as possible with more information.
  • In light of Governor Cooper’s executive order declaring a state of emergency in response to COVID-19, Design Lab staff are working remotely until further notice. We will respond to emails as soon as possible.
  • For those who are already registered for our programs, we have been sending out email updates with detailed information to parent/guardian contacts listed on the camper registration accounts as well.

While we won’t be holding Design Camp this year, the Design Lab is exploring other possibilities and opportunities for design education engagement and programming this summer. It is important to us that we stay connected with our K-12 community at this time, and hope that you will please stay tuned and keep in touch! If you haven’t already, we encourage you to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@ncstatedesignlab).

Thank you, and we hope you all are safe and well during this unprecedented time!