Design
Thinking

FPO

A process for creative problem-solving, Design Thinking is a pillar of Nueva's learning approach. It draws on the humanities for empathy and ethnography; the arts and engineering for idea generation and invention; and the sciences for hypothesis creation, prototyping, testing, and reflection. Students develop the mindset to identify situations where they can better the world, and Design Thinking gives them the tools and resolve to take action.

Design Thinking

Nueva partnered with IDEO and Stanford’s d.School to develop the first Design Thinking program and Innovation Lab (I-Lab) specifically for PreK–12 education. Students engage in Design Thinking across the curriculum daily — in our two dedicated I-Labs and in their classrooms.

design thinking

Students engage with Design Thinking principles on a daily basis across the curriculum, both in the dedicated I-Labs and in their classrooms. Design Thinking and engineering are taught, applied, and explored through project-based learning, integrated projects that require real-world problem solving, and independent exploration.

By asking "What do we need next?", design thinkers craft a unique process for each particular project. As students become more mindful of the process they have used on previous projects, they build confidence in their ability to successfully navigate open-ended challenges.

The immersion in Design Thinking and engineering at Nueva begins in PreK, and students build on their skills throughout their years in the Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools. Student projects address issues from the local to the global and touch on all disciplines of the curriculum — science, math, engineering, art, humanities, music, and more.

As part of Nueva's mission to share our resources, talents, knowledge, and innovation with the larger gifted and education communities, we offer on-site tours of the I-Labs and share best practices at our Innovative Learning Conference and Design Thinking Institute, as well as in presentations at national conferences.

Kim Saxe

Founding Director of the Innovation Lab

“Design Thinking is a collection of techniques and mindsets that enable people to identify underlying needs through empathy, to harness and develop their ability to generate ideas, and to actively seek feedback. By flaring and focusing, people discover a path through complex, difficult problems, which transforms them into fearless and effective changemakers. Collaboration and a bias towards action help blast through intricate situations, particularly those areas that do not have one right answer; Design Thinking helps people jump into ambiguous challenges with energy and excitement.”

Design Thinking in Nueva News

Invention Studio Inspires Student Projects for Social Good

At Nueva, when students see a problem or a need, they invent a solution. Now in its second year, Invention Studio began as an outgrowth of I-Lab teacher Connie Liu's Design Engineering for Social Good course. It allows students to use design thinking and engineering skills to create empathy-based solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing our society today. Invention Studio is Nueva pedagogy at its best — student-centered learning that gives students the opportunity to use both design thinking and social-emotional learning skills in a real-life setting, to solve real-world issues.

GoBabyGo! Students Engineer Vehicles to Mobilize Toddlers

Nueva middle school students learn by caring in Christine Braun's robotics class. In December 2017, Chris, the shop manager & I-Lab engineer, met with the Los Angeles chapter of GoBabyGo! — a University of Delaware-based program dedicated to mobilizing young children with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a congenital disorder of movement, muscle tone, and posture affecting more than 200,000 children each year, and there is no known cure. Chris brought her inspiration to Nueva and recently led a team of middle school students in the design, construction, and delivery of the school’s first car to a GoBabyGo! family.

Inspiring Design Thinking during Hillsborough I-Lab's Extended Hours

Nueva’s Design Thinking Program teaches students to solve problems through empathic design — that is, solving problems with a user in mind — and prototyping and iterating to discover viable solutions. Design Thinking is one of the pillars of the Nueva experience, and the I-Lab is the place where students come to build their creative confidence, practice the Design Thinking process, and learn to manifest their ideas into meaningful world change.

A speaker motions toward a presentation about mathematical thinking.

On October 19 and 20, more than 1,200 teachers, parents, and practitioners from public, charter, and independent schools from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Johannesburg, South Africa, gathered for the 2017 Innovative Learning Conference. More than 140 international thought leaders and local experts shared promising practices, inspiring stories, and cutting-edge research across an array of topics including creative and critical thinking, design thinking, wellness, computer science, and social-emotional learning, to name just a few.

Ninth Grader Helps Detect Heart Problems

This summer, Marc Y. traveled to China where he visited remote towns and village schools to listen to children’s hearts to detect murmurs. Along with several volunteer interns, he furthered the efforts of Dr. Robert Detrano and the China California Heart Watch (China Cal), a non-profit that operates out of UC Irvine to provide free heart care to denizens of China’s poor and polluted Yunnan Province.