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 Creating Changemakers
Design thinking comes to life in the Upper School
Grade 11 student Gustavo examines one of his prototypes for a prosthetic hand
For a number of Upper School students in Design Technology (DT) classes, having problems is a good thing.
Since 2017, the DT department has been curating a problem bank – a list of requests and ideas from around the school for design solutions that address real-world problems. These “problems” come from all corners of the school and even span the globe; a re- cent request came from a participant in the school’s Kalahari Project asking whether students could de- sign a greenhouse that would collect water through evaporation to address irrigation issues prevalent in the South African desert.
Other problems such as how to store students’ wet rain boots in the Primary School or best showcase a student athlete’s medals, trophies and belts – a signif- icant “problem” given the FIS Warriors’ winning track record – are on a smaller scale, but are nonetheless just as important to their stakeholders.
“ThegoalofDesignTechnologyinstructionistoweave together a series of experiences that result in young people seeing problems – whether in their lives, their communities or in the world – as solvable ones,” says Design Technology teacher, Sarah Moore. The DT problem bank offers students a myriad of oppor- tunities to fulfill this aim and FIS provides state-of- the-art equipment to help bring their ideas to life.
“Students have access to a huge wealth of resources in our labs,” says Design Technology teacher, Robin McIntosh.“We have a wide range of 3D printers that offer options in different materials, a laser cutter, milling machines, virtual reality headsets, 3D scan- ners, and more.”
Grade 11 student, Gustavo, who has designed a num- ber of prosthetic hands for e-NABLE, an online global community of “Digital Humanitarian” volunteers who use 3D printers to make free and low-cost prosthetic upper limb devices for those in need, says: “One of the great benefits of having access to all of this [equip- ment] is that it allows us to learn about a lot of in- dustry standard prototyping devices. It also gives us the opportunity to create much more advanced prototype models.”
To help create a structure for the projects, Design Technology teachers have established the FIS Design Thinking Model, a six-stage process that encourages students to develop a deep understanding of the challenge, clearly define the problem, brainstorm potential solutions, build a prototype, create a fully functioning final product, and then test and evalu- ate. All projects allow the "cycle of improvement" or
"test and evaluation process" to play out many times over, and provide plenty of opportunities for im- provements, refinements and iterations.
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