Design Thinking with iPads in Glenview, Illinois

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Last week we ran our last City X Project workshop of 2013. This makes us all kinds of nostalgic about where we were one year ago when we started this project, barely on our feet with only City X Project Director Libby Falck‘s idea of how we wanted to use 3D printing for experiential learning. But I will wax nostalgic soon enough; for now we want to talk about the incredible time we had at Glen Grove School in Glenview, Illinois, just outside of Chicago.

We always have fun with our creativity and Design Thinking workshops, but Glen Grove offered us an opportunity to walk through the Design Process and 3D modeling with kids who already had a firm grasp on technology. You see, Glen Grove is an all iPad school, meaning that every student from kindergarten through 5th grade has their own iPad.

Several kids sketched out inventions on their iPads, but we still insist on clay for their first models!

Several kids sketched out inventions on their iPads, but we still insist on clay for their first models!

There are a lot of supporting and critical remarks out there about giving young kids iPads in school, but from our perspective these tools were absolutely phenomenal in aiding our educational goals. What’s more is that the kids viewed them as exactly that; tools, not as distracting gadgets or as toys to be played with. For the first time, City X Project students were able to take photos of the evolution of their prototypes from inception, through prototyping, and all the way through 3D modeling at the end of Day Three. And, with the aid of an incredibly nifty iPad app called Popplet, students were able to digitize and take notes on the Design Process as we taught it to them, so they will have multimedia records of their experience with the City X Project to look back on and review.

How the times have changed, right? I occasionally still find grade school assignments in lost filing cabinets in my parents’ basement, but how incredible is it that this generation of students will be able to pull up years’ old projects with a simple search on their own devices? Hopefully an engineer, artist, or other changemaker from Glen Grove will some day look back on their 123D Design model from the City X Project fondly.

We especially want to thank Glen Grove’s own Mr. Hartnett for his incredible contributions not just in helping bring the City X Project to the Chicago area, but in taking the time to learn our workshop inside and out so that he could teach it to the rest of Glen Grove’s 5th grade classes!

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