K-12 Design Thinking

The K-12 Lab is part of the Institute of Design at Stanford University. It was established to address a core education issue and question. Most students start kindergarten with great creativity but graduate high school with so little. What can be done about it?  K-12 Lab’s mission is to introduce design thinking throughout the K-12 school experience. As one Grade 7 Student remarked during a recent school research project– ‘I really liked using my imagination. I haven’t used it for a long time.’

The overall goal is to foster student confidence in their capacity to imagine something and design it. Disney called it ‘Imagineering’.  Students “engage in hands-on projects that focus on building empathy, promoting a bias toward action, encouraging ideation, and fostering active problem solving. Please see the Design Circle Diagram below. Twenty First Century skills like empathy, visual literacy, collaboration, and appreciation for diversity are crucial to success in the global knowledge economy.

” Engaging students in design thinking means helping them to be aware of the situations around them, to see that they have a role in creating them, and to decide to take action towards a more desirable future … Students are more engaged and achieve greater learning when they have ownership over real world projects in areas that they care about.”

There is a strong relationship between Design Thinking and Project Based Learning. The UoT Rotman School of Business takes a similar approach with its I-Think Initiative for K-12. This promotes Integrative Thinking, which is akin to Design Thinking.

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