Student & Teacher Resources
Need help getting started?
Here are some resources to ignite your creative thinking:
- DEFINE THE PROBLEM
Defining the problem you are solving is an important first step in the design process. What global problems matter to you? Break that problem into smaller pieces so that you can create a focused design solution. Trying to solve a giant problem can seem daunting, but once the problem is considered in smaller pieces, you’ll find many potential solutions. Use the Defining the Problem worksheet to get started and take a look at this sample for inspiration.
- BASE YOUR DESIGN ON NATURE
Remember, your design can be based on any aspect of nature. The natural world exists at all scales, everything from weather and animals to photosynthesis and cell growth. Explore the Smithsonian Learning Lab to learn more about how designers are using nature as a guide to solve real-world problems. Explore these Design Tactics as you identify ways to be guided by nature and try it out using the Design Tactics worksheet. Check out this sample.
- WHO WILL USE YOUR DESIGN?
Who will use your design? How have you incorporated their needs into your design? Is it possible to share or test your design with your intended audience? Talking to your user may lead to new ideas that you hadn’t considered before.
- WHAT DESIGN SOLUTIONS ALREADY EXIST?
What are some design solutions already in use to address the global problem you identified? How might these approaches be improved? What are some new ways to address these challenges?
- NARROW YOUR SOLUTION
When you’ve identified a focused challenge and the aspect of nature you’ll be guided by, use this Mapping worksheet to help come up with solutions. Take a look at this sample.
Online Design Process Q&A Session
Need help navigating through the design process? Take a look at this video from our January 17, 2018 Design Process Q&A session with Target designers. Email us at DesignCompetition@si.edu to be notified of our next Q&A session.
I WANT TO LET MY STUDENTS KNOW ABOUT THE COMPETITION.
I want to make this a class project.
Great! We’ve created lesson plans and resource documents below. Follow the lesson step-by-step or utilize what fits with your needs. PLEASE NOTE: Individual and team entries will be accepted for the competition, but team size is limited to three students.
- Design Process tips and cheat sheet
- Design Process of the RoboBee
- Lesson Plans
- Worksheets and Handout
- Sample Worksheets
- Lesson 1: What Is Design? presentation
- Lesson 2: Nature-Based Design presentation
- Lesson 3: Research and Brainstorming presentation
- Visit the Smithsonian Learning Lab for more resources!
Please email us to let us know that you plan to use the design competition in your classroom and to stay up to date on the competition timeline.
Smithsonian Learning Lab
Check out some of the ways that designers featured in Cooper Hewitt’s collection are solving accessibility challenges by learning more at the Smithsonian Learning Lab! Teachers, you’ll also find all your resources here.