"We're design thinkers. We make things better."
- DT Philly students at Laura H. Carnell School
Design thinking is a creative and structured approach to problem solving that helps people understand and address complex needs. It is taught at leading universities and used by cutting-edge companies. In K-12 education, design thinking offers students an engaging and hands-on opportunity to develop 21st century skills--including creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication--while actively connecting what they do in school to what goes on in the world around them.
Design thinking as we use it is a five-step process. Moving through those steps, students hone competencies such as understanding the perspectives of others, information synthesis, big-picture thinking, risk taking, visual literacy, modeling, reflection, and analysis. Here's what happens in each of the five steps:
Empathize: Interact with and closely observe people and situations to identify an unmet need.
Define: Analyze, organize, and interpret research findings to develop meaningful and actionable insights.
Ideate: Brainstorm to generate many ideas about how to approach the problem you defined.
Prototype: Bring potential solutions to life by creating physical or virtual models that test the viability and desirability of the design ideas.
Test: Obtain feedback on the prototypes in order to select and refine a solution.
For a brief description of the types of activities students engage in as they use design thinking, please see the How We DT section under the DT Philly Challenge menu.