Unit synthesis: models of design (3 of 4)

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Students will be able to: 1) explain how social entrepreneurs utilize engineering design thinking; 2) compare their design thinking behaviors to behaviors of graduate students; and 3) communicate understandings with other students through structured dialogues.

Big Idea

Design is integral to social entrepreneurship initiatives. How might we critically analyze real-world engineering design thinking in underdeveloped countries to identify a spectrum of design abilities?

FRAME: From SEL to the real world

Students experienced an SEL-based engineering-design thinking challenge during the previous two lessons.  These culminated in a Classroom Culture Prototype Contract.  During this lesson, students shift focus to an analysis of high-level models of engineering-design thinking.  The purpose of this shift is to allow for an alternate assessment of students' mastery of the objectives for this unit.  The previous two lessons focused mostly on student performance; this lesson focuses on students' analytic skills.  Students will observe designers navigating the "real world" as exemplars of engineering-design thinking competencies in order to self-asses.  Where do students fall on the spectrum of engineering-design thinking skills?  How self-aware are students of their skill levels?  What next steps can students take to improve?

Real-world design

5 minutes


Students will shift the focus of engineering design thinking from the self to the real world through a brief introduction to products designed for human needs.  


Students will begin to contextualize engineering design thinking as a process that applies to the self and other people.


Teacher move

In the debrief of this clip I will ask students to consider how we evaluate good design.  How do we know we are good designers?  What does good the process of good design look like?

Extreme by Design: How do Stanford graduate students do design?

35 minutes


Students analyze the engineering design thinking behaviors of students at the Stanford d school that are engaged in a number of international design challenges.  


How do behaviors of graduate level design school students compare to our own?  What might we do differently in this class?  What questions arise as we observe these behaviors? 

Teacher move

Students will watch this film in small groups of four clustered around a laptop computer.  This will allow me to hold small group conference with groups to highlight specific aspects of this film for different students groups based on needs I have identified.  Students may watch the entire film on their own time, but the goal for this activity is for students to articulate observations for all categories.  To do this, one or two examples will be sufficient.


1)  The attached handout was used by students during class.

2) The film to be watch is Extreme by Design.  As of this writing (September 2014), it is freely available as a stream through PBS.  The link is in the attached student document.  This is the website for the film.  Should the free streaming link expire, the film is also available on Amazon.com

Example of viewing station setup

Ideas Exchange Dialogue Circles

15 minutes


The primary purpose of this activity is for students to share out their understanding of Stanford students' engineering design thinking skills, to practice self-assessment, to practice assessment of the class as a whole, and to identify real-world opportunities to practice engineering-design thinking.

Activity (from ALL-ED)

  1. Students form two equal circles facing each other.  
  2. First, students on the inside describe what they observed of the Stanford students' engineering-design thinking behaviors within each competency category.  These students also identify one area that they could improve and they explain how they might improve this area.
  3. The outside circle describes lessons from the class so far that required students to use the engineering-design thinking skills demonstrated by the Stanford students.  The outside circle also shares ideas for real-world challenges that could be solved by high school students at Sunset Park.
  4. Participants on the outside circle speak for 45 seconds. The teacher calls time and the  inside circle speaks.  Again, the teacher calls time the inside and outside circles have 45 seconds to ask questions, making connections, or explore a topic in greater depth. 
  5. Students on the outside then move two positions clockwise around the circle to find a new partner.
  6. Students repeat the exchange of experiences.
  7. As a debrief, students share out what they heard from a partner.