Almanac

Schools - May 14, 2014

Woodside School students learn about 'design thinking'

by Barbara Wood

If their enthusiastic response was any indication, students at Woodside Elementary School who got an introduction to "design thinking" at a special evening event at the school on May 1 are ready to dive into this hands-on, multi-disciplinary way of solving problems.

As one of the activities of the evening, parent Jeff Linnell showed the auditorium-full of students and parents how a virtual galaxy had been made by taking objects the students had formed out of a sheet of paper and scanning them at 40 different angles to make a 3-D computer model that could then be manipulated in hundreds of different ways.

Students cheered and yelled when they saw models of their objects projected onto a huge screen. The students patiently lined up to talk to Mr. Linnell and explore their galaxy.

Woodside plans to introduce design thinking as part of its curriculum next year, with two teachers and a design-thinking classroom/lab. The program will start next fall with one new teacher, Hilary Fenton, a designer and educator from Brooklyn, New York, as the design thinking leader and Harlin Hansen, currently a third-grade teacher, as the instructional technology leader.

In addition, 10 Woodside teachers and administrators will attend summer school to study design thinking at Nueva and the Stanford Institute of Design (also known as the d.school) this summer.

The Stanford Institute of Design describes design thinking as combining "creative and analytical approaches, and requires collaboration across disciplines." Design thinking often goes along with project-based learning in which students learn about many different subject areas by studying a single broad-based subject or question.

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