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Design thinking at an after school program

The 92Y in Manhattan wanted to offer a 15 week session after school course based on design thinking that would incorporate the newest tools in the maker movement. Along with a 3D printer, the D.I.Wire was integral to the course as students learned to take ideas from concept through prototyping, testing and iteration. After school programs have their own challenges: shared space, limited time, and often mixed age groups. For the Design Lab, eight students aged 9 to 12 joined up based on their general interests-- none of the kids had used digital fabrication tools before, but all had interest in exploring the world of design. 

How the D.I.Wire Plus was used

Activities were created to expose the students to design principles, starting with constraints and considerations. They built up brainstorming skills, taking ideas from sketches through rough prototypes. The skills needed for adding technology to these processes were introduced at the beginning of each new challenge: 3D modeling with Tinkercad, 2D file manipulation within Wireware for the D.I.Wire, and even a little Adobe Illustrator for the more advanced students. The D.I.Wire was great because it made it possible to move kids from drawings to software and into the physical world quickly.


The students’ learnings

Getting fast results meant kids got to make up to four projects with the D.I.Wire. More projects offered more opportunities to learn about how things are made and why design and iteration matters. The students were proud and confident sharing their inventions more formally as well - they were able to explain the steps they took to think through each project. 

“It was great to see creative problem solving going on as the kids applied new skills to new challenges”

- Neva Koc, Instructor 92Y Design Lab