At the K-12 lab, we are continually experimenting around ways to
help kids develop as creative and empathetic people. In other words, we
value processes that help develop flexible and generative mindsets.
Design thinking is one such process.
Like scientific methods, design thinking often presented in a
linear model, but in applied practice, it is often much messier. Kids
will enjoy exploring how design thinking is similar to and different
from other modes of thinking.
Design thinking is a user-centered design process, and the empathy that
comes from observing users enables design thinkers to uncover deep and
meaningful needs (both overt & latent). Empathy, by definition, is
the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the
feelings, thoughts or attitudes of another.
Empathy gaining is
often described as 'needfinding' in that you are discovering people's
explicit and implicit needs so that you can meet those needs through
design. A need is a physical, psychological or cultural requirement of
an individual or group that is missing or not met through existing
In this phase of design thinking, students
the focus is on becoming aware of peoples’ needs and developing
insights. The phrase “How might we....” is often used to define a point
of view, which is a statement of the:
user + need + insightThis
statement ends with a suggestion about how to make changes that will
have an impact on peoples’ experiences.
Ideating is a critical component of
design thinking. Students are challenged to brainstorm a myriad of ideas
and to suspend judgment. No idea is to far-fetched and no one’s ideas
are rejected. Ideating is all about creativity and fun. In the ideation
phase, quantity is encouraged. Students may be asked to generate a
hundred ideas in a single session. They become silly, savvy, risk
takers, wishful thinkers and dreamers of the impossible...and the
Prototyping is a rough and rapid portion
of the design process. A prototype can be a sketch, model, or a
cardboard box. It is a way to convey an idea quickly. Students learn
that it is better to fail early and often as they create prototypes.
Testing is part of an iterative process
that provides students with feedback. The purpose of testing is to learn
what works and what doesn’t, and then iterate. This means going back to
your prototype and modifying it based on feedback. Testing ensures that
students learn what works and what doesn’t work for their users.