The Year 4 students emphasize, ideate, prototype, and produce greener products and services for the school using the Design Thinking methodology

By Elizabeth Kavanagh and Rachida Lafia, Year 4 teachers

Our fourth-grade researchers in Year 4 were assigned to the Unit of Inquiry “Empathetic Design Leads to the Development of Relevant Products and Services,” so they set out to find the best methods for making a greener school. They had a purpose in mind: to enhance the products and services we use at St. Peter’s School in order to make them more sustainable and help us all care for our environment. We decided to utilize Design Thinking in Year 4 after the success of previous investigations undertaken by Middle Years pupils.

We saw it in a nutshell: Design Thinking may help children learn how to navigate and create in an uncertain environment. Taking into account so many current uncertainties, this talent is more important than ever for a youngster’s success.

The inquiry was based on the following question: “How can I use/reuse an item for the benefit of my community’s people?” Each group chose to explore possible end users and attempted to empathize with their needs. They identified and described the problem, ideated a solution based on their ideas, prototyped it, and even produced it! You may listen to their experience in the following video:

Design Thinking is a mindset, a process for practical and creative problem-solving. Creativity is a way of understanding the world. Design Thinking makes you think outside the box. All of these skills will be required in the world we are living in today and in the future. 

The teams began testing their creations as soon as possible, conducting interviews and observations of users utilizing their prototypes. The groups kept track of everything and took comments during the process; all of which were used for design iterations and continuous improvement. Finally, the groups exchanged their knowledge and experience with one another.

The students’ ideas were explored and represented. As a school community, everyone could sense the inventiveness and cooperation that the pupils had invested in throughout the unit. In an uncertain and complicated world where we are all immersed, Design Thinking is one way to consider potential problems and then discover good answers.