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2 Minute Summary: Designed for Engagement

Welcome to your two minute summary of Designed for Engagement featured on Edutopia and written by Chad Flexon, an academic innovations and STEM coordinator in New Jersey.

Wondering how you can help bring design thinking methods to your school? STEM coordinator (and also author of this article), Chad Flexon, worked with the Harrison Township School District to help teachers and students gain exposure and hands on practice with design thinking techniques.

How did it work?

Flexon and his team created a design studio, gathered necessary materials, and set up monthly missions or challenges for teachers and students to work on at their own pace. To prepare teachers and students, they provided supplemental materials (books, videos, podcasts) to help build background information on each mission topic. These monthly challenges were also differentiated so children from kindergarten to age twelve could engage with the project. Flexon also used these missions as an opportunity to push teachers to get familiar with digital tools such as Padlet and Flipgrid by incorporating them into each project.

Students can problem solve like real designers and engineers on real world challenges.

What did they make?

For one mission, students prototyped nest boxes or special homes for penguins to keep them safe and prevent them from wandering into roads - a common real world problem in New Zealand. Students were challenged to design a nest box that would attract penguins to come inside and settle here. To complete their missions, students had to research penguins, prototype designs with simple materials, and work in teams towards a solution. Check out their mission page to see other awesome monthly challenges.

Final Thoughts

As a proponent of design thinking in schools, it’s great to see projects that push students to collaborate, think, and problem solve like real designers and engineers on authentic issues. I’m wondering how other school districts are driving teachers and students to gain exposure to these concepts?

Check out the full article here. Happy innovating!