Problem Solved!: Design Solutions
By Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, September 17, 2007
- Middle School
- People's Design Award
- Language Arts
One to two fifty-minute class periods
Problem solving is an essential component of the design process. In this lesson, students will learn about charrettes, which are creative problem solving processes used by design professionals. They will also view a video that highlights a problem solving design exercise that asks students to create a safe method of transport for an egg. As a final activity, students will explore Cooper-Hewitt's People’s Design Award Web site, which gives the general public an opportunity to nominate and vote for their favorite designs, as they investigate the role of problem solving in the world of design.
Standard 7, Level III. Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts1.Reads a variety of informational texts (e.g., electronic texts; textbooks; biographical sketches; directions; essays; primary source historical documents, including letters and diaries; print media, including editorials, news stories, periodicals, and magazines; consumer, workplace, and public documents, including catalogs,technical directions, procedures, and bus routes)
Standard 1. Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process Level III. 5. Uses content, style, and structure (e.g., formal or informal language, genre, organization) appropriate for specific audiences (e.g., public, private) and purposes (e.g., to entertain, to influence, to inform)
Working With Others
- conduct Internet research on charrettes
- create a class presentation
- participate in small-group and large-group discussion
- work collaboratively in small groups
- investigate problem-solving design solutions
- “Design Problem Solved!” handout
- Computer with Internet access
Building Background Activities
Activity One: Exploring CharrettesThe purpose of this activity is to introduce the role of problem solving in the world of design. 1. Divide the class into small groups. Ask each group to take notes on charrettes using the following resources:
- National Charrette Institute
- University of Georgia School of Environmental Design
- Carnegie Mellon Libraries
2. Ask each group to share its findings with the class in a brief presentation.3. Ask the students if they know of any other disciplines that use a method similar to a charrette for problem solving.
Steps for Learning
Activity One: Introducing Design in ActionThe purpose of this activity is to provide students with an opportunity to learn about the varied components of the design process. 1. As a class, watch the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum's video entitled “Scrambled or Over Easy?” at http://www.cooperhewitt.org/EDU/av_edu.asp?v=1. The video describes a group problem solving exercise to design a safe mode of transport for an egg using a piece of drawing paper and a rubber band. After viewing the video, ask your students to brainstorm answers to the following questions:
- Why do you think this project was created?
- What can you learn about design from this project?
- How would you solve this design problem?
- What do you think students learned from participating in this project?
- What constitutes good design?
- What role does problem solving play in design?
4. Lead a class discussion comparing the different examples the groups selected, and how problem solving is integral to the design process.
Ask your students to respond in writing to the following question:
- How is problem solving an essential component of the design process?
Enrichment Extension Activities
Design for Kids
Ask your students to explore the Australian Children’s Television Web site at http://www.edc.org/CCT/imagination_place/ipdex.htm, which focuses on design and problem solving for children ages 8-12. Have the students write a brief paragraph describing the connection between the design process and the Web site activities.