So we kicked off Design-Lab at Perkiomen Valley HS with a Mash-up of activities, and it worked beautifully. Well, as beautifully as something as messy and chaotic (in the best way) as Design Thinking and Making can be.
I’ve been doing these kinds of projects and presentations for years now, mostly in my old middle school classroom. Some of them were bigger. Actually most of them were bigger, but what amazed me about the presentations the designers in my class did these past two days was the level of observation and depth of thought they brought to the task. (Of course, I’m dealing with 11th and 12th grade students, so the difference in cognitive development is rather great when compared to my middle school students.) I think, however, that a lot of the depth they achieved in just two days of work stemmed from their maturity and the level to which I focused on empathy.
The assignment I created was a “Mash-up” or “Remix” of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum’s Ready Set Design with character cards from The Creativity Hub’s Design Studio Pro version of The Extraordinaires, and the Rapid Cycle DEEPdt version of DT from the phenomenal Mary Cantwell.
The character cards allowed my students to practice empathy for visually detailed and nuanced characters, so we didn’t need to go out and observe people or interview them–something they’re not ready for yet and which would have tripled the length of the assignment. The use of Cooper-Hewitt’s Ready Set Design model provided the constraints that pushed them to use their materials in innovative ways, promoting creative and flexible thinking. Mary Cantwell’s iteration on DT provided a level of depth to an otherwise sprint-paced design activity.
I’ll be posting some more of my students’ designs and presentations in the Portfolio Display section of this blog. What you’ll find below is just a small representation of their amazingly deep and deeply empathetic designs.