Friday, October 15, 2010

Design Thinking Lesson with Sophomores

In early September I had the chance to facilitate a session on creative problem solving using 'Design Thinking' for a group of sophomore students. What follows is a little lesson description along with photos and a reflection on the process.

"Deep Dive" video of the IDEO creative process in action

A range of brainstorming and design medium such as post it notes, large butcher paper/large post it paper, markers of all colors and sizes, blue painters tape, 8 1/2" x 11" scrap paper, pencils, pens, wood blocks, legos, sidewalk chalk, and any other materials that would be suitable for building prototypes and models. 

Quotes from Tim Brown's book, Change by Design, posted on 8 1/2" x 11" paper. These are used as a warm up activity when students come trickling into the room. Click here to view slides of the quotes.

Age Range: 
Elementary school all the way up to adults (I did this activity with 15/16 year old sophomore high school students)

This entire activity took 3 hours.

Lesson Flow:

Warm up: 10 Minutes
As students enter the room, ask them to walk about and look at the 10-14 different quotes from Tim Brown's Change by Design. Encourage them to pick one or two that really resonate. Gather back in the circle and then give students the opportunity to share their favorite quote. Ask that they also share why.

Brainstorming: 20 minutes
Watch the two videos on brainstorming and David Kelly's fireside chat video. After the videos are over, ask the students to generate a list of brainstorming rules. Ask two students to be the scribes and record the rules on a large piece of butcher paper. The essential rules are as follows: Defer judgement, encourage wild ideas, build off the ideas of others, 'Headlines,' record everything, and quantity over quality. Post the brainstorming rules ideas on the wall for everyone to see. 

Actual Brainstorming: 5 minutes
After watching the videos, break the students into teams of two and have them brainstorm as many things as possible around campus that they'd like to re-design. This could include things like the classroom layout, new uniforms for their team, better bike accommodations, better lockers, etc. Encourage them to go for wild ideas, quantity over quality and to practice the established rules for brainstorming. Give students no more than 5 minutes to brainstorm, but encourage them to get 100 ideas (they won't be able to come up with 100, but this really pushes them to look for the non-obvious when brainstorming).

Prototyping Overview: 5 minutes
Show the students the video, "Have Paper, Will Prototype." The point is to show them that the point of prototyping is to bring your thinking alive through some type of object. A prototype can be just about anything-the boy in this video uses a piece of paper to share a design for a video game. Another key aspect of prototyping is that is should be low resolution-eg, we don't want to spend too much time on the prototype-create a down and dirty prototype to expose our thinking to feedback as soon as possible! Read some of the quotes from Tim Brown's book on prototyping directly to the students...this will help them formulate a picture of what prototyping is all about. Show students the different prototyping media that they may use: butcher paper, post its, wood blocks, legoes, blue painters tape, sidewalk chalk, etc are all useful mediums. 

After the prototyping video and discussion, tell student pairs that they have to quickly pick one idea from their brainstorm list to turn into a rough prototype. 

Student Project Prototyping: 3 minutes
Give students 3 minutes to create a rough prototype of their idea. 

Prototype sharing: 5-10 minutes
Give each group of students 30 seconds to share their prototype. After each group shares, allow 1 minute for feedback (groups should record the feedback they receive from their peers, but should not respond to it directly). This phase needs to happen QUICKLY. 

Prototyping Version 2.0: 3 minutes
Give students 3 minutes to incorporate feedback into a new iteration of their prototype. If you want to go through another round of feedback and iteration, go for it. 

Next steps discussion: 5 minutes
After version 2.0 of their prototypes are completed, ask them what they might do next to receive feedback. Who are some other folks they might want to share their ideas with? Might they want to do some additional observation and research? 

Break: 5 minutes

The Power of Play Video: 15-20 minutes
When the students reassemble, show them Stuart Brown's TED Talk on the importance of play. Talk with the students about the importance of a sense of play in the creative process prior to the video starting. Show the first 10-12 minutes of the video. After the video is over, ask volunteers to share their thoughts and take aways on the video. What moved them? What will they remember? 

The Deep Dive Video and Discussion: 20-30 minutes
Show the students the "Deep Dive," which is a great glimpse into the creative process used  by the design firm, IDEO. If you can get your hands on the entire 20 minute video, use it. Otherwise the 8 minute clip from YouTube will be fine. 

Design Challenges:
After the Deep Dive video and discussion, launch the students into teams of 4-5 to work on various different design challenges. I had the students work on the following challenges around our campus: inspiring more play, re-designing our student clubs program, and re-engineering our school's dining room. Students were given design briefs on each one of these challenges. The briefs contained videos, documents, maps, and other materials that would be useful in helping them understand their challenge. Students were given the balance of their time to brainstorm solutions and to build a prototype to share with others for feedback.

A few photos/short videos of my students engaged in brainstorming, prototyping, and sharing of their ideas:

Students engaging in the prototyping of their ideas:

Students getting introduced to their design challenge by interacting with and discussion the brief materials:

Students sharing their prototype for redesigning the club experience at our school:

Prototype of various ideas for inspiring more play:

Students design a prototype for an 'alternate to stairs' so it is easier to get their heavy roller backpacks between the different floors at our school (backpacks are even heavier this year now that each student is carrying a laptop!)

Student designers in action. Just a long shot of several of the groups working on prototypes for their ideas:

One group of students was HIGHLY interested in re-designing our daily schedule. This is a photograph of this group sharing their thinking via a prototype they created:

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic--wish I could have been there. If I had my own classroom, I'd bring in a ton of cardboard boxes, glue guns, scissors, and art supplies and ask my students to design a prototype of something that would help them learn and work in my class, then actually try to build some of it. At the very least, I wish I had a reading loft.