Sustainable Design Education for Elementary Schools

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  • Title: Sustainable Design Education for Elementary Schools: Interdisciplinary Development of New Educational Models through Design Thinking
  • Author(s): Martin Luccarelli, Shea Tillman, Rusty Lay, Anne-Marie Grundmeier, Sabine Högsdal
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Design Principles & Practices
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Design Education
  • Keywords: Design Thinking, Teaching Creativity, Sustainable Development
  • Volume: 13
  • Issue: 4
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 2325-128X (Print)
  • ISSN: 2325-1298 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2325-128X/CGP/v13i04/1-25
  • Citation: Luccarelli, Martin, Shea Tillman, Rusty Lay, Anne-Marie Grundmeier, and Sabine Högsdal. 2019. "Sustainable Design Education for Elementary Schools: Interdisciplinary Development of New Educational Models through Design Thinking." The International Journal of Design Education 13 (4): 1-25. doi:10.18848/2325-128X/CGP/v13i04/1-25.
  • Extent: 25 pages

Abstract

The development and preservation of children’s innate creativity as they enter their professional career has grown in importance due to fundamental changes in today’s economy and society. It is therefore key to understand how teaching strategies can contribute to educational change in the early stages of schooling. Design teaching encompasses a variety of skills that can help schools shift their focus to foster children’s natural ability to “ask why” in their search for learning how to think and create. This article presents the results of an interdisciplinary workshop involving university students aiming to develop new educational approaches to foster children’s creativity through Design to be implemented in the elementary school curriculum of the German federal state Baden-Württemberg. To support the workshop participants in providing a holistic concept within a compressed time period, a sustainability framework was included to further articulate their brief. The teams who were composed of chemists, computer scientists, designers, and engineers, followed the Design Thinking process to develop their proposals. A kick-off meeting presenting results of an international qualitative survey with elementary school teachers, as well as expert input during the workshop addressing the relevant topics, provided teams with key information to define their design directions. Concepts designed by each team exhibited a comprehensive solution resulting in both the abstract “education idea” and physical embodiments of the tools. Their outputs included products, interior concepts to be implemented in classrooms, exercises as well as games to support the newly developed educational models. The benefits and limitations of these concepts along with key observations of participants’ interdisciplinary collaboration are presented and discussed herein. Future work will investigate the Design knowledge of German elementary school teachers more in depth and will involve testing the new concepts in German elementary school environments.