Many readers know I’m fascinated with a product from The Creativity Hub called The Extraordinaires Design Studio. If you’re not familiar with The Creativity Hub, you ought to check them out. They’ve built a reputation on their first product, Rory’s Story Cubes, but are taking gaming and learning to the next level with their Design Studio Deluxe.
I’m currently piloting a Middle School Design Club of 12 middle-schoolers, three high-school helpers, and a few teachers. The club is based on the use of The Design Studio Deluxe as an introduction to the design process and design thinking.
I’ve been studying and employing design and design thinking in my classroom for over a decade, but one thing has always held me back from helping DT spread to other classrooms, and that is the difficulty of truly capturing and communicating in succinct and pointed language just what DT is all about. And so, my class, my methods…? They found little transfer or application to other classrooms.
And then, in March of 2016, I received The Extraordinaires Design Studio Pro for my birthday as a gift from my children. In September of that same year, I used Extraordinares characters in my new Design Thinking class in my high school, and something amazing happened. I didn’t have to lecture, to handout 5 different versions of design thinking, to stop students at every point along the way to let them know what they were doing. Instead, these characters, highly detailed images on 7.5″X 5″ cards (see below), captured my students’ imagination and drew them into their lives. I was so amazed at my student’s reactions, and so happy to see how my own children reacted to the Design Studio Pro, that I purchased all three of them a design studio deluxe several months ago and could hardly wait till Christmas to give them these gifts.
If I sound like a plant by some clever marketing team, I get it. I’m gushing here. However, in over 20 years of teaching and more than a decade of research, work, and play in the world of design-based learning, I have never seen a product that makes the vast and amazing world of design as transparent and immediately engaging as this one does. Below are some photos I took of my daughter’s second design with her Design Studio Deluxe. I lead her through some quick empathy mapping with her Extraordinaire, but all the rest of the work is hers. Her challenge–design a source of light for the Wizard that he could take with him
Her final solution, iterated several times through some questions I asked, was a crystal ball filled with a potion/bioluminescent solution. (I’m not sure of her chemistry on this one…flour and urine don’t generally produce light 😉
This is my daughters fourth or fifth design since she received the kit. I’m looking forward to many, many more.