Tag Archives: design thinking

Social Distancing Hacks

One of the challenges I have with students when we are doing Design Thinking is to teach them to embrace constraints.  Sometimes I will get feedback from them at the end of projects that “we should be able to do whatever we want,”  despite my explanation that my experience has shown that complete freedom can often be too overwhelming – and sometimes not very safe.  So, I’ve been watching the slow emergence of innovative ideas coming out of our current pandemic situation with some delight at the creativity being revealed as people try to design around social distancing.

These are all basically ideas using, at the very least, the “Adapt” step of S.C.A.M.P.E.R., as people attempt to find ways to stay healthy while still leaving their homes.  After you show them a few of the linked images, students might enjoy designing their own social distancing hacks for school, shopping, the beach, etc…  I’d love to see their ideas!

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Image by db_oblikovanje from Pixabay

 

Two Bit Circus

Two Bit Circus is a foundation that describes its mission as follows: “We serve children in all economic situations by creating learning experiences to: inspire entrepreneurship, encourage young inventors, and instill environmental stewardship.”  The organization has aimed to achieve these goals through activities such as summer camps, STEAM Carnivals, and workshops.  Although many of these programs have had to come to a screaming stop during the last few months due to the pandemic, Two Bit Circus has not faltered in its delivery of quality content.  Instead, it has shifted to offering streaming classes during the week on topics that range from creating music to building balloon racers.  You can find the archive, already full of informational project videos they have streamed since March, here.  Note that Caine Monroy (yes – the charming young man from Caine’s Arcade) makes a special appearance in some of them.  He is a member of the foundation’s Junior Advisory Board.  In fact, according to the streaming schedule on the home page, Caine will be hosting another live session this Thursday, May 21st.

It’s clear that Two Bit Circus is making a strong effort to offer distance learning projects that are fun, educational, and mostly reliant on household supplies.  Some other resources you will currently find on their website home page are their STEAM Carnival Playbooks (currently free downloads thanks to Vans), a Bricks Playbook for Parents, and “Power Lab,” a “Print-At-Home Escape/Story Room Experience.”  In addition, parents who are suddenly finding themselves to be educators may learn some helpful advice from the “Teachers for Teachers” series that you can find here.

While the official school year may be winding down for some, the unpredictability of the next few months will probably still leave some gaps in children’s schedules.  With these resources from Two Bit Circus you can make that time fly!

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Image by jacqueline macou from Pixabay

Dear Data

This is another example of one of the great internet wormholes that I fall into when I read Twitter.  I was fascinated by a Tweet from Nick Sousanis (@nsousanis), which led me to an amazing book so I could interpret his Tweet, which led me back to the work of his students and a bazillion ways remote learners around the world could have fun with his assignment or other permutations of it.

Let’s start with the book.  Dear Data began as a pen pal project between two information designers on different continents.  As they explain on their website, “Each week, and for a year, we collected and measured a particular type of data about our lives, used this data to make a drawing on a postcard-sized sheet of paper, and then dropped the postcard in an English ‘postbox’ (Stefanie) or an American ‘mailbox’ (Giorgia)!”

Each postcard consists of their data and the explanation of its depiction.  The women chose all sorts of topics to record, such as a week of laughter or a week of complaints.  Though they would be collecting data for the same topic during that particular week, their pictograms would be dramatically different.

They learned a lot from this year-long project, which resulted in a book, a postcard kit, and a journal.  As Giorgia and Stefanie explain in this video, “We learned to pay attention, to live in the present much more, to be more aware of our surroundings, and empower behaviors with new lenses.

So, back to Nick Sousanis, who Tweeted that his visual communications students had come up with their own “Dear Data” projects, and gave examples of some of the results in his Tweet.  I asked Nick if I could share these on this blog and he graciously agreed. (You can click on each picture to enlarge.)

I see all kinds of potential for this with students.  For example, one of the Depth and Complexity icons is “Trends,” and it would be interesting to ask students to analyze one of these postcards, and determine what trends they see.  Using, “See, Think, Wonder” would be a great start. In addition, as Nick found with his class, assigning students to develop their own data sets can invite self-reflection and creativity.

During these unique times, when data has become a fixation for much of the world, students can also examine its importance and reliability.  As the women who completed this ambitious project say in their video, “Finally we both realize that data is the beginning of the story, not the end, and should be seen as a starting point for questioning and understanding the world around us instead of seeing it as the definitive answer to all of our questions.”

(For some other fun ideas for looking at data, check out my posts on Slow Reveal Graphs and What’s Going On in This Graph?)

Maker Playbooks

Patrick Benfield (@McLemoreAve), who is the Innovation Director at the Magellan International School in Austin, has created a website called, “i.Make@Home.”   The website includes several “Maker Playbooks.”Each playbook has several projects that can be done at home to encourage creativity and innovative thinking.  Examples (including some videos) and directions are provided.  Many of the projects require basic materials that can usually be found at home, such as cardboard and scissors, or even out in nature, but there are some that call for hand-tools and/or adult supervision.

Currently, there are five Maker Playbooks available on the site, beginning with one from March 30, 2020.  You can add your e-mail to a subscription list to be notified when new ones are added.  If your children or students make something from one of the playbooks, be sure to post it to social media, and tag it #magellanmakers so Mr. Benfield can see that his hard work in curating these ideas for using design thinking at home is paying off!

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How to Use Design Thinking in the Classroom

My article, “How to Use Design Thinking in the Classroom,” has just been published on the NEO Blog.  I hope that you will find that it gives some practical suggestions and resources for the ways that educators can model and apply the Design Thinking process.  This article was written before the pandemic drastically changed learning environments, but next month’s article on how distance learning can promote global collaboration will definitely take our new reality into account.

I hope you will take some time to browse through some of the other articles on the NEO Blog, as they are very thorough and cover a wide range of topics of interest to educators.  Please let me know in the comments below if you have any suggestions for future articles!

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Photo by Med Badr Chemmaoui on Unsplash

Unlocking Design Thinking

Greg Kulowiec (@gregkulowiec) has been tweeting some very helpful graphics for Design Thinking, using the hashtag #unlockingdesignthinking.  I asked his permission to post the ones for Ideate (Brainstorming) on here, as that is often one of the most difficult phases for my students, and I really like his suggestions.

Here are his two Ideate posters close up:

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created by Greg Kulowiec (@gregkulowiec)

I love the two strategies above, which I’ve never used with students before, to extend their thinking once they’ve generated possible solutions.

 

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created by Greg Kulowiec (@gregkulowiec)

I have more about the SCAMPER method here.  For some additional suggestions to encourage brainstorming in your class, you can also refer to this post.

If you like these posters, and would like to see the rest in the series, search for #unlockingdesignthinking on Twitter, and be sure to follow @gregkulowiec.  I will be doing a guest post for another site in March on “How to Use Design Thinking in the Classroom”, so stay tuned for more details!

Tinkercad Design Slams

For anyone new to 3d design, Tinkercad is one of the best options out there.  This free online design tool is an excellent introduction to creating .stl files that can be saved and imported into your preferred 3d printer slicing software.  When I think of the dearth of 3d printing/design thinking resources that could be used in schools, especially in elementary, five or six years ago, it is heartening to see all of the curriculum, tools, and tutorials that have popped up since the days when my colleague and I started using City X with our students.   Tinkercad has been a huge contributor of these resources, making it very educator-friendly.

Last November, the Tinkercad blog featured a post on “Design Slams”  that has links to curriculum that was developed for 3 different grade bands: preK-5, 6-8, and 9-12.  You can use these as starting points to integrate STEAM in your classroom and/or you can choose to enter the #AutodeskMakeItReal contest, also linked in Kellyanne Mahoney’s post.  The themes of these units (Make for Everyone, Make it Green, and Make Justice, respectively) all have the common goal of teaching students to think about how they can impact their communities with design thinking.

New to Tinkercad?  Don’t forget you can go to the “Learn” button at the top of the site to access tutorials to help you get started.

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Image by ZMorph3D from Pixabay