Design Your Own Classroom Project
Students were introduced to the Stanford d.School design thinking process. The desks were removed from the room and the challenge was presented, “what kind of space do students need to do their work?” The students launched on empathy studies about where and how students study. Once they collected interview data, students embarked on “Ideation” of their potential ideas. Once they decided which of their ideas were the best, they did “rapid prototyping.” They then did quick presentation of how their design met the need of their user. After the presentations we discussed which ideas had the most merit for our classroom. What we decided on was that we would build a project bar, much like a coffee bar, where students could do work. Additionally, one student interview revealed that one student wanted to incorporate the outdoors–indoors, having elements of nature. That team designed a “tree house” loft would provide a private get away for students that work better when they get alone time. Over all the project has been exciting and interesting.
Hover Craft Project
Student studied physics and the basic principals of air pressure. In order to understand this more deeply my teaching partner, Marc and I, created the project “Hovering Through History”. Students selected a group or an idea that represented Freedom Fighters in America. They looked at the major contributions of this group to American Culture and Society. They then designed a 3 dimensional representation that would be placed on a hover craft that students also designed and built. The hover crafts were powered with leaf blowers. The final presentation was a Freedom Fighters Hover Craft Parade held on Election Day. Over All it was a great experience, though sometimes we were overwhelmed!
Blank Bar Project
One of my favorite projects that students did in 2010 was to design their own nutrition bars. We first investigated the bar market and what bars were out there as healthy choices. We did a blind taste test to see which bars were the “best” tasting? We then looked at the ingredients to decide which was more “healthy.” Not surprisingly, the better tasting bars were not healthful. The students were then given ingredients in class and charged to make a healthy bar. My teaching partner taught the students how to convert the ingredients into carbohydrates, fats etc and how to read and convert food labels. I really did not know how to find out how much fat or carbohydrates came from a cup of oat meal until this project.
While my partner was teaching the math and science around the bar creation, including the understanding of saturated fats, the body’s use of calories and the calculations for serving sizes. During this time I discussed the bar market and we analyzed the 18 different bars we sampled and examined the package design. We wanted to understand the target audience of the bar and which words and images were used in the package design that would convince that target audience the believe that that bar was most healthy.
Once we did these case studies we then discussed what makes a good logo and name of a bar. As you can guess, the early designs looked like 7th graders make them. But with much revision before the instruction on how to use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop were given, they made drastic improvements. We printed mock labels and had students pitch why their bar was the best for their target audience.
iPod App Project
I was very interested in the students thinking about what would make a great app. I didn’t want students to focus on the actual coding or designing a game; wanted students to try to solve a problem. I gave the presentation attached below to guide their thinking about what makes a good app. Students worked on solving complex problems and created app designs and icons to represent their apps. One student created a virtual yard sale app which allowed a seller to post what they were actually selling at their physical yard sale so that people could bid on and then purchase the item before they ever saw the item. Another app help to provide homeopathic or home remedies for a variety of aliments from products you would find in your kitchen cupboard. Another app provided young baseball pitchers techniques for throwing a variety of pitches such as curve ball, strike balls and knuckle balls. The unlimited creativity of young people is astonishing. I think the thing that I would change the next time I did this project is invite investors or developers and ask them to critique their ideas. This would encourage the students presentation skills as well as give them vauable feedback on their apps.