Teaching the Design Process in Makerspaces

Stewart Middle Magnet is a STEM magnet school, and part of our curriculum comes from Project Lead the Way, including classes in engineering, robotics and aerospace.  The Design Process is an important part of that curriculum.  It also ties in beautifully with what we do in our makerspace.  So it made sense for me to partner up with one of our Project Lead the Way classes to teach our students about the basics of the design process.  While this was a lesson with a specific class, it could easily work with small groups, after-school clubs, or any group that you bring into your makerspace. Activating Prior Knowledge I started out by surveying my students to see who had already heard of the design process.  If they had, I had them explain it from their point of view.  We talked about our experiences creating and building things (projects in the makerspace, building with our toys as kids) and what kind of processes we tend to experience when that happens. Design Process vs. Scientific Method While many students will have never seen the design process, most have been exposed to the scientific method.  Students usually learn this process when they go through science fair.  To help introduce the class to the design process, I had them create Venn diagrams comparing the two different methods.  I used diagrams from Science Buddies to help my students see the different elements of each process (Engineering Process here,  Scientific Method here).  Each table had a piece of chart paper with the circles on it (otherwise it takes them five minutes just to get them drawn).  I gave them about ten minutes to put their Venn diagrams together, then called on students randomly to review what they wrote.  We talked a lot about how there isn’t necessarily … Continue reading Teaching the Design Process in Makerspaces