Introducing Design Thinking into Your Library

Introducing Design Thinking into Your Library


Getting students to Explore is one of the six shared foundations in the AASL Standards Framework for Learners.  We want students to imagine, tinker, investigate, create, and innovate.  Librarians can look to the STEM fields to get great ideas for design thinking and related activities. This resource is arranged to give teachers and librarians some resources and teaching ideas to integrate “design thinking” into their instruction and libraries.  

What is Design Thinking?

Introduce to your students the concept of design thinking. How is it similar or different than completing a science lab? How is it similar or different than researching a paper?  Encourage your students to think about how they can use design thinking across all disciplines, not just in the STEM classes.  The following resources explore the concepts of design thinking and the design process.

What the Design Process Can Teach Kids, Noodle

An article explaining how ArchForKids defines,describes, and applies the design process

The Engineering Process: Crash Course Kids #12.2, YouTube

This is a video clip hosted on Youtube and published by the Crash Course Kids series - the video describes steps in the design process and provides real-world examples

The Design Process in Action, PBS Kids

This resource is an entire website full of descriptions and examples of the design process, videos, activities, and PDFs, like this graphical explanation of the design process.

Engineering Design Process, NASA

This website includes NASA’s design process and accompanying videos

4 Keys to Mastering ‘Design Thinking’ and the iteration process, Building Design + Construction

An article discussing methods of thinking during the design process - recommended for older students

What Instructional Strategies Can I Employ?

There are many ways you can incorporate design thinking lessons into your instruction. One of the best ways is to partner with your STEM teachers and collaborate on lessons. You could create an after-school club. Another option is to host lunch occasionally in the media center and guide students through a design thinking activity. The following resources contain lesson ideas for all different age levels.  

Engineering Design Process, Teach Engineering

This websites provides an overview of the design process and offers different curricular activities organized by grade level

Introduction to the Engineering Design Process: Engineering for Good, Maryland PBS Learning 

This webpage provides a lesson plan and other activities to introduce the design process

How Can I Encourage Independent Exploration?

Ultimately, we want students to independently explore, create, and make things. Provide opportunities for them to do that in your library. One way you can foster that is through makerspaces.  Another option is to introduce students to games that will foster design thinking.

Teaching the Design Process in Makerspaces, Renovated Learning

This website is an extensive wealth of information about on starting and using makerspaces

Play Games, Try Engineering

This site provides access to games related to design challenges, as well as links to other sites that provide games - a list of related mobile apps is also included

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