Design Thinking in Action

This week marks the culmination of our work to date in thinking, problem-solving and creativity. Students are trying to create a better MRI experience for children. I first heard about this idea from Rotman Ithink and have developed a design challenge. Below is a taste of our process.

Day one was hard.  Reading about a complex problem, trying to identify causality and then building a causal model is not easy.  Many found it challenging.  Some were uncertain of expectations, a few groups got off task; some, however, were able to build causal links. Many ended up with webs rather than models of causality.  Some were not thinking in terms of how one event was influencing another.

Day two was much better.  We examined the demonstration causal model, talked about arrows and got at why we need to think about the entire problem as a whole and not just parts.  I pointed out that what we thought was the main cause of fear of MRIs in children, might not be the cause at all.  The class went quiet as they considered that their conclusions could be wrong. Some really understood that you have to hold multiple ideas in your head when thinking about a problem.

After talking about expectations when working in groups and process, students returned to the task.  One class improved their models.  The other set their first stab at causal models aside and began from scratch. Today we set the timer for each stage.  Constraints are useful for helping students stay focused.

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Empathy: Who are we designing for?


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Graphic Organizer from Rotman Ithink


Ideation Phase: Generate 100 ideas in 15 minutes

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Clustering and Finding Themes

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These students remembered to use visuals to illustrate their ideas.

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Sketching design ideas.

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I was thrilled that in grade 6 we were able  to discuss unintended consequences.  We considered who would be impacted by eliminating the need for sedation.  The kids realized there would be job loss and that companies that produce drugs would be affected.  Students then examined a few of their own ideas for unintended consequences.

Tomorrow we will be building prototypes.

Students were excited and exhausted.  This is hard work.  They have to think.  There are no short cuts.  As one student said in reflecting on the IDEO shopping cart design video we had watched before beginning this project, “I can’t believe they got that done in 5 days.”



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