When visiting the Philippines, the AIS Innovation team built on the success of student Asanshay Gupta's virtual workshops. Photo: AIS

Editor’s note: This sponsored article was contributed by Atlanta International School and published as part of its annual partnership with Global Atlanta. 

Asanshay Gupta

In March, the Atlanta International School Innovation Team visited the Philippines as part of the Da Vinci Program, a global scheme aimed at sharing the most innovative STEAM teaching with schools around the world.

They were hot on the heels of one of their own students, senior Asanshay Gupta, who created The Ingenuity Challenge to encourage fellow students around the world to ideate solutions to local problems and turn them into scalable solutions.

“Anybody at any age around the world can make an impact through their ideas,” says Asanshay, a recent recipient of the prestigious Coca-Cola scholarship recipient who piloted the challenge in Atlanta before taking it to Asia through virtual workshops.

Asanshay, who got his start in design building an eye-controlled wheelchair for paralyzed people, is also the creator of the Oxygen Planner, an app that helps medical professionals budget oxygen in times of crisis. Since its release in late 2020, Oxygen Planner has grown to serve over 1,700 users in medical facilities in more than 110 countries, and continues to grow.

The Ingenuity Challenge has also been run virtually in India, with notable projects including a program to redistribute wasted food at religious festivals, a job matching site to reduce opioid addictions and an app to connect people with potential blood donors in their area.

Asanshay was inspired to create the challenge by his own experience with design thinking courses at AIS.

“I wanted to replicate that feeling in many more kids and enable them to kickstart their own impact journeys. I started with workshops, and as I expanded the program, I started reaching more and more people,” Asanshay said. 

The objective was “to help catalyze students in more traditional educational systems by introducing the concept of design thinking, so they could identify a problem in their own community and try to solve it.”

Workshops conducted by the AIS teachers at schools around the world also focus on problem-solving techniques, emerging technologies such as virtual and augmented reality in education, experiments using biomaterials to replace plastics and, in the words of the school’s Head of Innovation and Technology Dr. Marsha Maxwell, “helping design sustainable solutions to global issues.”

AIS senior Asanshay Gupta leads a design-thinking workshop with students in the Philippines over Zoom.

When designing The Ingenuity Challenge, Asanshay identified teaching in a way that sticks with the students” as one of the program’s most critical elements. 

This involved creating very personalized workshops to ensure that the knowledge they have is sustainable and securing mentorship programs for challenge winners to ensure they keep making an impact. Informed by Asanshay’s experience, the AIS team took another look at its own Philippines project. 

At first we planned online workshops, but Asanshay warned us about the challenges, especially with unreliable internet connections,” said Dr. Peluchi Flores, director of innovation at AIS. We planned all our workshops so that they are sustainable — the teachers can apply them in their own classrooms.”

To do this, the team provided the host schools with sets of inexpensive equipment (hot plates, VR cardboard glasses, and other items) so that they could replicate the hands-on workshops with their students. 

“It was really exciting to meet some of the students who had already taken Asanshay’s Design Thinking (DT) workshop as part of the Ingenuity Challenge. Our Sustainable Solutions workshops reinforce the use of DT in the classroom so that both teachers and students are exposed to this problem-solving process”.

The AIS Innovation team was also able to scale the process through the Da Vinci Forum conducting DT Workshops for over 160 students and 85 teachers at the University of Bohol and Dr. Cecilio Putong National High School.

Dr. Flores said this program sets AIS apart by showcasing its global reach as leaders in innovation.

The hands-on experiential and sustainable approach to our partnerships with schools around the world has a significant impact on both our own teachers and students to those from underserved schools,” she said. 

As an AIS student innovator, Asanshay and his Ingenuity Challenge is testament to the power of these kinds of programs to inspire students on a truly global scale.

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...