Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Institute Copy

Cooper Hewitt trains K-12 educators from all disciplines and grade levels in design and design thinking through the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Institute (SDI), an application-based innovative and in-depth professional development program. The program provides educators with the resources for integrating design-based education in their own classrooms. In addition to aligning with National and Common Core Standards, SDI corresponds to 21st Century and STEAM skills. Through SDI, the groundbreaking Design in the Classroom curriculum, an in-school interactive workshop that introduces students to design thinking, is made available nationwide, effectively reaching thousands of students in underserved communities.

During SDI, educators participate in design presentations that give way to hands-on workshops geared to provide them with strategies and resources for effectively incorporating design-based learning into their teaching methods. Sessions are led by a roster of renowned design leaders, connecting educators in an intimate, small group setting to experts they may not otherwise have the opportunity to engage. Educators are tasked with design challenges and must work collaboratively to brainstorm and prototype solutions. An integral part of the program are the group brainstorming sessions on relating design to the classroom permeate the week (e.g. linking math to a community context via architecture).

As part of the program, educators present a group project to a panel of local design and community authorities. The critique provides constructive feedback and models the role presentation and communication play in design learning. The program also asks educators to create lesson plans, which can be found on Cooper Hewitt’s invaluable Educator Resource Center.

Although the museum is based in New York, Cooper Hewitt has trained hundreds of teachers from partner schools in select cities across the country. For more information, contact us at