Sneaker Design Project with 6th and 7th Graders

The week before spring break, The School tosses aside the “normal” schedule and students sign up for special courses to study something different.  This year I worked with teachers Chris Pappas and Monica Amaro and twelve sixth and seventh grade boys doing “sneaker design.”  Though everyone was excited just to design sneakers, we also explored the entire eco-system of sneaker culture from marketing to manufacturing to economics.  Once we started thinking about it from a deep level we quickly realized that one week would not be enough time!

On day one we started by showing Sneaker Confidential, a somewhat outdated but themeatically appropriate video.  Most of the time, when I watch videos with students, I like to pause and explain things that are happening and open it up for quick conversation to make sure everyone understands.  Even though this was only a 45 minute video, it took us almost 2 hours to watch the whole thing!

In the afternoon, students began individual research projects on different brands of shoes.

Over the next few days we bought a pair of size 7 Jordans on 125th street and we tried to sell them at Flight Club  on lower broadway.  Unfortunately they weren’t interested because the shoe wasn’t rare. We also went to Niketown and tried out NikeID.

The best part of our week was on Thursday afternoon when Puma sponsored our shoe design activity.  Each student designed their own pair of sneaks.  In a few weeks, Puma will send them to us. It’s a marketing gimmick for them, and it was clear that each student is now a convert to the Puma brand!  You can view the photographs here:

IPW is the best week of the year.  I wish I got this excited about teaching everything else!

2 thoughts on “Sneaker Design Project with 6th and 7th Graders

    1. Andrew Gardner Post author

      The communication director at the school knew someone there, so that’s how I got the contact information. After I made contact, they were excited about the idea and 2 representatives from the company came down from Boston to NYC to help out. We also Skyped with a lead sneaker designer from the company. He was super engaging. Thanks for reaching out – sorry I cannot be more specific.

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