Northside Project Updates

Meeting with an Expert from TXRX Labs

After we presented our research to Joseph Miller from TXRX labs, he connected our ideas with two inspiring art movements:

  1. San Francisco’s Mission District Graffiti
    Today the Mission district in California features the highest concentration of street art in the world, though it wasn’t always that way.  At one time, graffiti tagging and disrespect filled the streets. During the 1930s, the Work’s Progress Administration (WPA) employed artists to paint murals in the streets. President Roosevelt hoped the art would boost moral and instill pride in local and national history.  The murals sparked an artistic movement where people began respecting the walls as spaces for artistic expression, not vandalism.
  2. Alex Goss’s bathroom exhibition “May Can Will”
    Local Houston artist Alex Goss recognized bathrooms as a fascinating intersection between public and private space. Going into a stall to use a bathroom is inherently private, and yet it happens in a space that a community of people share. Goss’s exhibit featured a keen attention to detail; using every surface in the bathroom for art. From smiley faces on nails to interactive mirrors with inspirational messages, Goss embraces the restroom as a opportunity for artistic expression.



How Might We… Brainstorming our Design Challenge

Framing Our Design Challenge
This week, we brainstormed the biggest issues with the bathrooms–the overarching problem we want to solve.

Brainstorming the biggest isseus

After we voted on the problems we felt were the most important, we realized some issues could be grouped together.

  1. Overcrowded – too many students, too few stalls
  2. Lack of privacy -locks that don’t lock and large gaps between stalls
  3. Cleanliness -students are being disrespectful, things are breaking and the stench is not good

With our problems now narrowed down, we chose to focus on an area that we could have the most impact: cleanliness.

Notes from Bathroom brainstorm
Notes from our “How Might We…” brainstorm session

This is the design challenge question we landed on as our brainstorm came to an end:

How might we educate students about restroom policies and enforce them? 

5 Phases of Design Thinking_1



Challenges can come in many different forms whether determining if the earth is round or flat, or if poverty can ever be defeated. As a group, our critical thinking skills instead of attacking immediately. We propose a set of questions to comprehend our opponent, in this case the bathrooms. Numerous questions from curious students came forth and each one dissected the issue from a new angle. Each students’ method was distinct from one another. And that’s the beauty of it.

Some students wanted to get to know the people behind the problem first. Alexis said, “We should ask other people who face this problem everyday such as the janitors.”

Other students were more focused on the message about the bathrooms. “We need new ways to inform our students and staff that bathrooms are meant to be a safe haven.” From Alexis’ interview methods to Kamryn’s approach. Our plan is ready and aiming to the ocean’s mirror and we for sure are landing among the stars.


Identifying the Problem


After learning more about the human-centered design process and reading the case study about IDEO’s Ghana Clean Team project, we set off to embark on our problem solving journey.

The Problem: The Bathrooms 

The Situation: Very Scary

The odor, the sinks, and the soap that runs dry…
Number 1s, 2s, and 3s in places they shouldn’t be…


Yikes Houston, we have a problem. Luckily, we are ready to get to the bottom of it to transform those stalls of horror so we can make the bathrooms great again.

Here’s all the issues we identified (shout-out to Kam for capturing these!)

Boys’ Bathroom:

  • Occasional incidents of poop on the ground
  • Paper towels on the ceiling & walls
  • Locks on doors don’t work
  • Broken faucets
  • Broken toilet seats/bases
  • Clogged toilets…that stay clogged
  • Writing on the walls
  • Stains on the floors (?)
  • Smell can be rancid
  • Soap and water all over the counters
  • Waste bins always full
  • Note: 3 very sweet, female janitors have to clean this poopy, soapy, paper-towel-on-the-ceiling mess

Girls’ Bathroom:

  • Overcrowded–need to wait in lines during passing periods
  • Girls trying to do their makeup in the mirrors and then there is no room!
  • Issues with feminine products in the waste bins that do not have lids
  • Open waste bins make it smell awful
  • Doors do not lock (students have walked in on students & teachers in stalls)
  • Many students try to avoid going to the bathroom during the school day
  • Drawing on the walls and sink
  • Need air fresheners
  • Issues with no soap

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