DO Tank @ Downey Unified

The DO Tank is a multi-stakeholder activity that supports students in becoming equal partners in their learning. Sharing their thoughts, ideas, and dreams for the future, students experience a sense of efficacy as they work alongside teachers, staff, and community stakeholders.

Student agency is a critical component of a 21st century education. Young people with high levels of agency do not respond passively to their circumstances and can act with purpose to achieve the conditions they desire in their own and others’ lives. With a desire to elevate student agency and better understand what inspires students to support them in achieving their goals, Downey Unified School District (DUSD), and The National Academy of Sciences: Science & Entertainment Exchange (NAS) partnered with LeadLocal to host a DO Tank.


On September 22, DUSD students, teachers and school leadership, came alongside NAS staff to participate in a DO Tank at the USC Bridge Institute. The DO Tank was designed to:

  • Engage students in designing their future while practicing new skills in collaboration, communication, and human-centered design
  • Support teachers in learning and applying participatory tools that can be taken back to the classroom to elevate student agency
  • Uncover possible paths for NAS and DUSD to further engage and inspire students as they move towards their desired future

During the 2.5 hour DO Tank, participants worked on multi-stakeholder teams while moving through a series of activities that emphasized the power of listening, empathy, creative problem solving, and storytelling. With an inquiry-based approach, teams addressed questions such as:

  What inspires you?

  When have you had fun while learning?

  Why is it important for young people to be included in planning?

  Where do you want to be in 2027?

Teams practiced divergent/convergent ideation processes to answer these questions. The process focused on creating space for all voices to be heard, and incorporated  time for individual reflection and shared decision-making. The DO Tank concluded with teams designing collective stories as early prototypes of their solutions to support Downey students in achieving their dreams for a better future.