By: Dr. Nell Daniel
Middle and Upper School Visual Arts Teacher
Design education in K-12 schools helps students shift from a consumer to a producer mindset by using the design process to solve cross-disciplinary problems.
As part of their Design class, 11th and 12th graders were challenged to use limited materials to build a package which could hold one Pringle potato chip that was then mailed from Manhattan to the school. Halima Johnson from the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum was one of the visiting critics on the project. We are thrilled to report that the chips mailed by Sara Tobias ’18 and Phil Bernstein ’18 arrived intact!
The Pringle project was just one exercise in a product design unit in which students also had to build paper bowls to hold three oranges and create original bottle products with supporting graphics and branding. Coming up, students will explore architecture, urban planning and complete several individual projects designed around their specific interests.
This Upper School Design class engages students in critical and creative thinking about the world around them. It gives students a first-hand understanding of how innovation is increasingly woven into almost every contemporary career, ranging from business to science to politics to education. Regardless of whether students are interested in pursuing design as a career, design education helps students become changemakers around issues they care about.
Design education helps prepare students with the skills and habits they need to succeed in life such as: creative problem solving, collaboration, flexible thinking, multi-disciplinary connections, constructivist approaches to learning and self-directed assessment. It teaches complex thought processes that combine analysis and synthesis, and increases students’ comfort with uncertainty.
Fun fact: K-12 design education is so highly valued in schools that it is a required part of the curriculum in the UK and Australia.
See more photos from Nell Daniel’s Upper School Design class.