Design challenges for your classroom – Bay Area Discovery Museum

STEM Tip: Design Challenges for Your Classroom


Setting up design challenges creates a learning environment that mirrors real-life situations, because there is more than one possible way to solve the problem and students can start with their individual idea, but advance their thinking through observing others. Because the design process is iterative, it reframes children’s thinking of ‘failure’ as something negative into a positive understanding of revision and improvement.

How to incorporate this in your classroom

Introducing a design challenge that relates to students’ everyday lives leads to higher levels of engagement and buy-in. Students can start with an idea that feels comfortable and familiar, and learn and incorporate new knowledge and expertise throughout the process.

The Best Tool for the Job: Making Connections

This activity introduces students to the concept of tool, the characteristics of everyday materials, and how tools and materials relate. Students explore how engineers choose the tools for a task, and why some tools fit better than others.

Research Shows:

Being faced with limitations can help spark creativity. How someone responds to limitations and constraints speaks to the flexibility of their thinking (Stokes, 2001, 2005), which can be improved and grown through practice.

Want More?

Take a look at these engineering-inspired activities and design challenges from BADM’s online activity resource, Creativity Catapult:

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