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  • Writer's pictureallisonjolester

Day 1 of Design Thinking: Redesigning the "Student Survival Kit"

Alright, teacher champions and youth educators! Picture this: it's your first day introducing design thinking to a room full of curious 6th to 9th graders, and you're equipped with a lesson plan that's got more kick than a triple espresso.

Instead of the Stanford D School's classic "Redesign a Wallet" exercise (which is fabulous - highly recommend for adult learners!), we're switching things up with a challenge more suited to our young innovators: "Redesign the Student Survival Kit".

What's in this Survival Kit, you ask? Anything that helps our young scholars thrive in the wild world of academia. Now, let's dive into the step-by-step plan to make this adventure unforgettable.

Step 1: Empathize - Get into the Groove

Start the class with a brainstorming session. Ask your students: "What makes a school day tough? What helps you survive?"

Encourage everyone to think about the challenges they face, like forgetting homework, losing pens, or the eternal struggle of waking up on time.

Step 2: Define - Set the Stage

Once you've compiled a hefty list of school survival struggles, it's time to narrow it down.

Have your students vote on one challenge they'd like to tackle. Is it the lost pens? Or maybe that dreaded early morning alarm?

Step 3: Ideate - Unleash the Creative Krakens

This is where the fun begins. Have your students brainstorm wild, wacky, and wonderful solutions to the chosen challenge. Cover the walls with sticky notes. Let them think of as many ideas as possible. Remember, in design thinking, no idea is too outlandish. Encourage them to think outside the box—the bigger, the better!

Note: This happens to be the hardest part in my experience. If you have learners that get stuck, check out this blog post.

Step 4: Prototype - Bring the Ideas to Life

Time to get crafty! Arm your students with craft supplies—paper, cardboard, pipe cleaners, or anything else you have on hand.

Their mission? To create a simple, physical model of their survival kit idea. And remember, it doesn't have to be pretty; it just needs to get the concept across.

Step 5: Test - Truth or Dare Time

Now, have the students present their prototypes and get feedback from their classmates. Did they love the alarm clock that throws cold water on your face to wake you up? Or perhaps the 'Never-Lose-Again' pen chain was a hit?

Encourage open, constructive discussion. Remember, every piece of feedback is a gift, even if it sometimes feels like the kind of gift you'd like to return.

And there you have it! Day 1 of Design Thinking completed! You've taken the first bold steps into a larger world, a world where every challenge is just a design problem waiting to be solved.

And remember, the goal isn't just to create the perfect student survival kit (although that's a pretty cool bonus), but to foster a mindset that views problems as opportunities for creativity. Now that's what I call surviving school in style!


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