Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Design Thinking in the Classroom

Last week my students presented their furniture designs to administrators, architects and expert furniture designers. (See previous post for more info.) They were fabulous. My students were so professional: they definitely know how to do a polished presentation. Their ideas were strong and they were able to defend their decisions with facts and information they had gathered from the interview process.
Giancarlo, furniture maker and engineering student,
 working with my students.

One group proposed a curvilinear booth with benches that could accommodate backpacks. The second group created a countertop that stretched the length of the mezzanine and contained cup holders so that drinks wouldn't spill into laptops or IPads. The high backed stool that went with it also had a place for backpack storage-a hook under the seat. And the last group proposed a circular, modular couch with high backs for noise control. The pieces would be on castors and could be rearranged around a low coffee table that also had a charging station in the middle.

Our guests asked great questions; the kids gave real answers. One of the administrators asked if they could present at the next Board of Ed meeting. Unfortunately, it is the night before the Chemistry Regents and I don't know if my students will be able to be there. Instead of following through on something that matters and in which they have invested a great deal of time and energy, they will be studying for a state test.... Real life experience meets state testing. I guess real-life will lose, as they still need the test scores.

All in all, I am really glad we tried this. We all took a risk-me, as teacher, having them tackle a problem that I didn't have much experience with, them, as students, exploring a real-life situation and providing answers after following the design thinking process. The process guided us. Experts helped us. And my students all agreed it was exciting and fun!