fifthGradersAtDSchool Feb2017Nothing brings Design Thinking principles to life like seeing them in action at the birthplace of Design Thinking, Stanford’s Nueva’s 5th graders got the chance to do just that on their field trip last week.


This is a special experience for Nueva students: our first Innovation Lab (I-Lab) in Hillsborough was developed in collaboration with Stanford’s team, and from there we launched our Design Thinking curriculum back in 2007.

Last week, our students visited the, the Design Loft, and the Product Realization Lab. These three different spaces inspired and excited our students. They could immediately see the resemblance of the space to Nueva’s I-Labs, with white boards and sticky notes everywhere, and flexible walls easily reconfigured depending upon needs. Samantha S. said, “We got to look at the different ways the different teams took notes and how they used their space. It was cool to see their ideas and how they got there on the white boards. When I am design thinking in the future I will remember to organize my work in a different way and to keep moving ideas around to come up with the best idea.”

At the Product Realization Lab, our students could feel for themselves how the machinery in our I-Lab could scale up in size. They observed the giant equipment in operation, different processes such as welding, sand-casting, and injection molding, and being up close in a functioning machine shop was eye-opening. “I was incredibly amazed that I had the opportunity to watch the process of welding. To me, it remained the best part of the trip because it was nothing like I had ever seen before: a hands-on, dirty, and heavy process,” said Mei Mei L.

The Design Loft is the work space of Stanford graduate students in the design program. Our students learned first hand how both design thinking and collaboration are important to achieve the best possible outcomes. It was noteworthy that these graduate students were from many disciplines including business, sciences, and engineering, illustrating the wide applicability of Design Thinking. Mei Mei shared, “I learned from this excursion that the Design Thinking process isn’t just used for making physical things. It’s also used to change the ideas or concepts of how we, as people, do things. One of our guides was using the Design Thinking process to create a way for parents to experience the same amount of fun as children while playing with them.”

In parallel to their own experience in their Design Engineering class, our students witnessed the intersection between design and engineering, from idea generation to creation. Their tour guides went into depth, engaged our students, and made the experience hands-on and interactive. They also allowed many opportunities for Q & A.

Michelle Grau, Nueva’s Technology, Innovation Design, and Engineering Coach, was very clear on the value of this trip, “This experience and exposure is invaluable for our students. After having taken Design Engineering class in both 4th and 5th grades, this trip helps them make the leap from their relatively small projects in our class, to seeing how these principles scale up and are at the center of solving real problems. Many students come away inspired, having their eyes opened and their creative juices flowing.”


 February 17, 2017



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