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The Zen Den

During the 2018-2019 school year, Mason City Schools ran the first ever crowdsourced student innovation challenge. With one of the highest event engagement rates that year, "Zen Den" was a top idea and was implemented immediately.


"We need a space for relaxation or even naps. For students who have a study hall or early arrival, we could allocate a room with sofas, pillows, and rugs. We can make it dimly lit since we spend several hours under bright fluorescent lights. It will be a place where we can just sit, relax, or sleep for a while without having to worry about classes for a little bit."


What was the observed problem?

Students observed that there were limited spaces where they could take a break when feeling stressed out. They knew that students frequently needed to take breaks in tough times. However, they were limited to sitting in hallways, with their guidance counselor, or with an administrator. They wanted to create safe spaces where they could sit and refocus.


What was their solution?

Students created two separate "calming" spaces. They designed the spaces to be in close proximity to helpful adults (guidance counselors and principals). The spaces were also design to be comfortable and relaxing. They equipped the spaces with adult coloring books, oil diffusers, soft furniture, and gentle lighting.


How did the original idea change when it went through the design process?


The idea went through a workshop process. Students were challenged to work through the structures around the space like access and supervision. They also had to budget, identify materials, and create purchase orders.


The lean test primarily took the form of focus groups. They laid out the idea on paper and talk to other adults and students in the building to figure out if it would work.




Have you ever wanted to make big changes in your school? Have you ever wished you could get your ideas funded? Now is the time to do it. You have the opportunity to create real change in your school environment. Real ideas created by real Mason students like you will be submitted here and voted upon here. The final winners will execute their ideas with the help of the school and Mason community.