As manager of school and tours at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum I have the great opportunity to see design come alive in classrooms all over NYC. It's also thrilling when I can chat with a teacher who has implemented one of our workshop programs and has seen the exciting results. I interviewed Aviva Carmeli, Art Teacher at PS 131 Queens’ Abigail Adams Elementary School. We discussed Ms. Carmeli's recent experience having all of her art students participate in the program "Target Design K-12:  Design the Classroom," that offers New York City schools a free design-focused workshop.

KC: How did you learn about Target Design K-12: Design in the Classroom?

AC: At the NYC ART Teachers Conference I learned about the possibility of having the Target K-12 Design workshops in our school.

KC: How would you describe the program to someone who has never experienced it before?

AC: This wonderful program focuses on introducing design as a part of our everyday life. Working in teams, the students brainstormed how to solve a design challenge by creating a simple prototype. The program inspired them to think “out of the box” and find a different way to address a challenge.

KC: How did teachers react to the workshop, "What is Design?"

AC: They received a Teacher Resource Packet explaining the workshop’s emphasis on design-thinking skills. This material supports the national Common Core Standards by recommending:
• Using experience and knowledge to begin understanding the purpose and function of design solutions for everyday challenges.
• Collaborative problem solving with teams to think critically about solutions.
• Visualizing solutions through prototyping.

KC: What did students think? What was this experience like for them?

AC: All of my art students in grades K-5 participated in the design workshop. The students were very attentive, motivated, and eager to tackle the design challenges.  The students worked with partners or in teams to create a basic prototype. After they finished assembling their prototype, they shared it with their classmates. The presentations of the young designers were enjoyable and inspiring experiences!

KC: What impact do you think this workshop has made on your school and community?

AC: Design is all around us!  Students discovered that the design process uses tools and creates objects.  Students recognized the power of design and are inspired to take an active role in implementing new ideas.  I believe that these students will be the future designers who make our community a better and safer place to live.

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