Our Stories

News from the Design Lab: Our Sukkah Design Challenge

September 24, 2015 by Elana Cohen (Faculty and Staff)

At the heart of our Design Lab is the strategy of Design Thinking. Design Thinking is an approach to learning that includes contemplating real-world problems, conducting research, participating in reflective thinking and analysis, conceiving original ideas, conducting experiments, and sometimes building things!

To introduce the North Campus students to the newly designated Design Lab and to practice Design Thinking, students and teachers participated in a Sukkah Design Challenge. We began by teaching students that Design Thinking is a way of looking at problems and solutions by putting people and their needs first. By starting with an empathetic view of their user – and working to prototype solutions that meet their user’s needs and constraints – our students are developing new skills, utilizing different thinking models, learning to collaborate by working in teams, and engaging in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) learning. As part of the Sukkah Design Thinking Challenge, students interviewed one another to research and understand the various challenges faced by classmates and their families when building or sitting in a sukkah. The students identified specific user needs, such as ways to keep bugs out of a sukkah, ways to protect the hands of sukkah-builders, ways to lift beams overhead, ways to transport food without having to get up, and ways to keep the sukkah level when it is built on an uneven surface, among other needs. After identifying a specific problem, students brainstormed many solutions, selected one approach, asked more questions, solved challenges, and used materials in the Design Lab to build a prototype – a working model to represent their solution.

Through this iterative process, students are not only practicing stick-to-it-iveness as they dig deeper and innovate… they are learning that they can and should take risks, that they can gain valuable information from failure and mistakes, and that they can make a difference.

Design Thinking encourages children to explore, discover, question, and to be curious, flexible, and resourceful as they work together in their capacity as active, creative problem-solvers. Stay tuned for more news about the project-based, experiential learning happening in the Design Lab!

Click here to see the video of the Sukkah Design Challenge.