Faculty Get Lesson in Design Thinking

With construction underway for a new Center for Innovation & Design (CID) on campus, MBS faculty participated in a “design thinking” workshop on October 3rd to learn about concepts and techniques that they may incorporate in the classroom.  

Kevin Jarrett of Firewalker Consulting led the hands-on workshop, which was a fast-paced, introductory design thinking exercise called the “Design Dash.”  In teams of three, faculty members were asked to redesign a random topic, prototype their idea, test the prototype, and reflect on the process — all in about an hour.  “The emphasis here was really all about the process, not the end product,” said Jarrett.

“I quickly discovered there’s more than one solution to the problem, and maybe the answer isn’t really obvious,” said faculty participant Jeanine Erickson.  

Other faculty members commented on the importance of teamwork and how the diversity of team members generated divergent solutions.  

To prototype their ideas, the teams used an assortment of basic arts and crafts supplies ranging from glue sticks and markers to pipe cleaners and construction paper.

“Although many associate the ‘making movement’ with 3D printers and elaborate constructions, at its foundation is an attitude towards learning to see the world more creatively and imagine alternate ways of putting together and taking apart what we find there,” said Dr. Owen Boynton, Director of the Center for Innovation & Design. “As MBS adopts the maker movement in the new Center for Innovation & Design, we will be embracing critical making as a structure for enabling creativity in the classroom, often with the simplest techniques.”

The workshop concluded with a discussion of the MBS 9th grade “Wired House” physics project that asks students to work in teams to design their own model houses and equip them with everything from interior and exterior lighting to working doorbells and variable speed fans. The project is a good example of a design thinking activity, and faculty members reflected on ways that the lesson could be improved upon. 

“Drawing on the concept of empathy, the students could make more connections with the user and design with someone else in mind,” said Jarrett.



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