Katherine Smith Internship: Elementary Interns Dive into Design Thinking

Last week, the Edcite team and Katherine Smith Elementary School started the first-of-its-kind elementary school internship. And after only our second week, we already feel like we have learned so much! So let’s talk about what we accomplished in the first 6 days!

First Things First:

An Intro to Design Thinking and Empathy

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This image was created by the Stanford University design school http://dschool.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/steps-730×345.png

The Design School at Stanford recommends a cycle for design thinking in order to create a product that addresses a need. Many takeaways can come from the cycle for design thinking, but the biggest lesson our interns have learned is that this process is a cycle that doesn’t necessarily stop with the final version. We are using this same cycle in our internship, so we wanted to start by introducing it as a framework for their work with Edcite.

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To help the students practice the process of design thinking, students were given a warm-up design challenge. They had to design a car for hypothetical customers with different needs.  To make this more fun, we borrowed characters from the Simpsons!

Click here to check out more student-friendly resources from Stanford’s Design School!

Design Thinking in the Real World:

Dream It

How can we help kindergartners learn the alphabet? Students at Katherine Smith School in San Jose, CA like to begin their learning with a driving question. During the first week of their internship with Edcite, the rising 4th, 5th and 6th graders addressed the aforementioned question to get real world practice with design thinking.

The first stage of the design process — empathy — is not as easy as it sounds. Interns started out doing their research. At 10 am, during the kindergartners’ recess, the interns interviewed kindergartners about their knowledge of the alphabet and their interests. The first lesson of the day: kindergartners are not easy to interview.  Some interviewees preferred dancing to answering questions (we’ve all been there) and others, possibly referencing spaghetti-o’s, referred to strategies like “eating the alphabet”.

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Design Thinking in the Real World:

Design Itgilbert

Our interns used the iPads donated by Edcite to record their interviews so they were able to generate a list of discoveries about their “target market”, the kindergartners.

From this list, the interns began drawing sketches of their prototypes. Each design addressed a specific discovery (or multiple discoveries) that interns had made about kindergartners.  Groups presented their sketches and went through several rounds of feedback. Each time, they gave their fellow interns “I likes…” for their favorite parts or ideas and “I wonders…” for areas where they had questions.

Design Thinking in the Real World:

Do it!

After all the feedback, interns formed groups based on which ideas they were interested in creating in prototype form.  It was amazing to see their creativity! Games ranged in rules and the themes ranged from fishing to soccer to Art and Crafts to dancing to a creative reinvention of flashcards. As the pictures show, the interns came up with many different solutions to help their fellow students at Katherine Smith. To read more about this process — from an intern’s perspective! — click here.

IMG_0691   IMG_0642   photo 5 (1)

Next Steps:

Apply what we’ve learned to Edcite!

As we move through our second week of the internship, Edcite interns are doing research on educational websites and starting to look at Edcite’s design to answer the driving question for the internship: How can we make Edcite better for students and teachers?   By the end of the week, these illustrious interns will choose what elements of Edcite to apply their newfound understanding of design thinking to. Look out for the changes they make to be implemented on Edcite in coming weeks!

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