Design Thinking: A Problem Solving Framework


Megan Power: Let’s see what happens.

Student: You get

Megan Power: Oh, look at the water.

Student: Yay!

Amy Fousek: Because they’ve been exposed to design thinking at such a early age, that creativity has just blossomed. They can really think outside the box. And they really feel that there is not a problem out there that they cannot devise a solution for.

Megan Power: Do you wanna drink that?

Student: No.

Megan Power: See what you can do to redesign it.

Megan Power: At Design 39 Campus, we want our students to be working on real world work in real world ways. Design thinking is an innovative approach to problem solving, it’s a step-by-step process designing for a specific purpose or person. Because it’s World Water Day, today’s design challenge is creating a water filtration system using natural resources.

Meghana: In design thinking, the first thing you have to do is empathize. If you don’t do that, you won’t be able to make the right thing for the person.

Chandler: This morning we watched a few videos to see how other people get water. It was about a girl that had to walk four miles to get water and four miles to get back, and her back was aching because of that heavy bucket of water on her head. We just have to get a glass of water from the fridge.

Amy Fousek: After we showed them the video, we just shared some facts with them. Worldwide, here’s how many people don’t have access to clean water.

Amy Fousek: In the video, what did you notice around her? Some of the natural resources around her?

Student: A bunch of sticks and plants.

Amy Fousek: So could she use these items?

Students: Yes.

Amy Fousek: Huh.

Megan Power: For the research part, we needed the kids to experience these natural resources. What happens when you pour water through sand? What happens when you pour water through cloth?

Amy Fousek: Did it get all of the dirt?

Student: Most!

Megan Power: After research, we’ll define the problem. A lot of times they need to come up with the definition, what is the problem that we’re trying to solve? With this one, we had a problem already defined.

Amy Fousek: So our problem is, people who do not have access to clean water need a way to filter water so they don’t get sick from it. What’s next?

Student: Brainstorm different ideas.

Megan Power: When students are ideating, we talk about rapid ideating. We don’t want them to waste too much time kind of working through one idea or adding a lot of details. It’s just, “What if I made it this way, what if I changed it that way?” Oh, so you’re saying to layer some of those materials? Then they go ahead and prototype.

Student: This is not your final building. It’s like your model so when it comes to your real one, you know what you’re gonna build.

Megan Power: Walking around to the tables, you hear students starting to combine different ideas.

Student: Drawing at first shows how you’re gonna build it.

Student: Now you will connect a pipe right here.

Student: And then it has to turn and go up somewhere.

Amy Fousek: So now they have their paper model, it’s labeled so they can go and get the supplies needed and start building it.

Student: We need a cloth.

Megan Power: The prototyping, when they’re building it, can be sometimes the quickest part. You have it all planned out. They know what they’re building. After students prototype, they’re excited to jump in and see, “How did my prototype work?” What number would you say this is for turbidity?

Amy Fousek: We brought out a turbidity scale which they would be looking for the clarity of the water and then a PPM device which would measure the purity of it.

Megan Power: So even though water might be clear, it still might not be safe to drink.

Amy Fousek: What do you see, Brandon? What number? 985.

Brandon: 985.

Meghana: If it fails, you have to see the problems and make it again.

Amy Fousek: The final stage in the design process is, we’ll have them upload into their digital portfolio.

Student: Three, two, one.

Amy Fousek: Sometimes it’s about publishing results that didn’t quite work so that others can learn from it.

Megan Power: Publishing could be just sharing out to an audience. What would they change? Or what was challenging about the project? How did the group work together?

Amy Fousek: And you guys took both ideas and made it into one? And how did that make you feel, Emma?

Emma: Happy.

Megan Power: Starting design thinking at a really early age, they’ll take more risks. They start learning goal setting, problem solving, perseverance.

Meghana: First attempts don’t always work out. It’s okay to fail and try again, because then you actually are learning something like, “Oh, this doesn’t work, let’s try this.”

Student: Whoa!

Student: Whoa, it looks so clean!

Amy Fousek: 735.

Student: Yes! Yes!

Chandler: I think it’s good because it’s not just thinking about yourself, but thinking about other people and I think that’s very important.

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