Design thinking and project-based learning

Design thinking and project-based learning play an integral role in STEM education.

STEM offers the opportunity to create high quality integrated learning opportunities that engage and excite our learners in a K-6 classroom. Project-based learning and design thinking provide complementary structures to develop integrated STEM learning sequences for your students when starting to plan for STEM studies.

Design thinking

Design thinking involves the use of strategies for understanding design needs and opportunities, visualising and generating creative and innovative ideas, planning and analysing and evaluating those ideas that best meet the criteria for success (Australian Curriculum).

Design thinking:

  • can also be applied when trying to understand and unpack the STEM problem identified within the project-based learning. Students can generate ideas and refine a design based on evaluation and testing.
  • is one of four thinking skills identified in the Science and Technology K-6 Syllabus (2017). Design thinking links to both the skills of design and production, and to project-based learning in STEM.

To see an example of design thinking in the K-6 Science classroom, watch the design thinking video (6:27).

How students in Stage 2 could use design thinking to solve a problem.

Transcript of 'Design thinking'.

Project-based learning

In a project-based learning environment, students gain knowledge and skills by investigating and responding to a question, problem, or challenge. The learning and teaching address cross-curricular content through rigorous, authentic, hands-on, interactive learning experiences.

Project-based learning engages students in opportunities to solve rich, authentic problems. It encourages innovation, critical and creative thinking strategies, and collaborative teamwork. Students are prompted by challenging, open-ended driving questions that relate to contemporary and relevant projects such as drought, bushfires, sustainable farming, renewable energy. They apply their learning across the curriculum to design solutions, reflect on feedback and refine products. Student voice and student agency come to the fore as they present their projects to an authentic partner.

Next up ➜

Learn about the 4 design thinking phases.

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