Gear light bulb

Q1. What is Design Thinking?

15. Design Thinking


Design Thinking is a process for creating a solution to a problem. It’s similar to what you might do in a science class, math class or social studies class. Design thinking tends to work really well for creating solutions to problems that impact humans, like creating a new type of food that can be distributed to areas stricken with famine, a new type of transportation for people in big cities or a YouTube channel that inspires others to be their best self.

There are many models for the design thinking process and each one highlights different aspects of the design process. In this thing, you’ll be using design thinking to guide and track your progress to a solution to a real-world problem.

To get started, watch Sprout’s video The Design Thinking Process (3:56) to get an overview of the things involved in a design thinking process.

You’ll notice that this video follows the Design Thinking Model created by Stanford d.School that looks like the image below. We’ll be using this model as our guide and add some important bits to it as we explore design thinking together. A design thinking process can help you solve some of the hardest problems or some of the silliest. It’s up to you!

Stanford Design

Source: Stanford d.School’s Design Thinking Bootleg

I Can Statements

  • create a team with varying backgrounds and strengths
  • select a process for documenting and sharing my progress through this Thing

Key Vocabulary

Design Thinking: Design Thinking is a process used to create something to solve a problem.

Empathize mode: The empathize mode is to understand the values of others. 

Define mode: The define mode explicitly expresses the problem that one strives to address.

Ideate mode: The ideate mode is the mode in which one creates new concepts and ideas.

Prototype mode: The prototype mode is when one gets the ideas out of one's head and into the world. It is an example object which demonstrates the same features and qualities as the final product. 

Test mode: Test mode is the chance to gather feedback, refine solutions, and continue to learn about one's users.

Play the Vocabulary Game to practice the Key Vocabulary

You can change the Quiz mode to Match, Test, Learn, Flash Cards, Spell using the selection list at the bottom right of the activity that says "Choose a Study Mode." Direct Link


1. Assemble your team. 

  • Design Thinking works best with teams of two to four.
  • Refer to your teacher for directions on how to assemble your team. If you are doing this independently, identify some friends or family members to do it with you.
  • It’s best if you include teammates with different backgrounds and strengths because different perspectives shape a better solution.

2. Make a copy or download the Design Thinking Workbook.

3. Share your workbook. 

  • Since this workbook will be shared by your team, you may choose to print it and write or draw on it or use it digitally in Google Docs, Microsoft Word, or another tool that you and your teacher agree upon. Be sure to save it and name it so you can locate it easily again.
  • If you choose to print a copy, refer to your teacher for safekeeping. You may want to find a special place in the room to store your workbook or elect a teammate who will be responsible for bringing it each day.
  • If you choose to go digital, share the document with each teammate and your teacher. Refer to your teacher for their sharing preference, they may want you to share it in your school's learning management system.

Completing this Quest

You have completed this Quest after completing the I Can Statements and steps above. After you’ve gathered your team, made a personal copy of the Design Thinking Workbook and shared it with your team and your teacher, you can move on to Quest 2.

 Check off this Quest on the 21t4s roadmap 

  I am ready to go on to Quest 2 What's Your Problem

Design Thinking shares a lot of similarities with the Engineering Design Process and the Scientific Method that you may be familiar with. For more information you can check out the following links:

MITECS  Michigan Integrated Technology Competencies for Students, and

ISTE Standards for Students

1. Empowered Learner
b. build networks and customize their learning environments
in ways that support the learning process. 

4. Innovative Designer
b. select and use digital tools to plan and manage a design process that considers design constraints and calculated risks.

7. Global Collaborator
b. use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints.
c. contribute constructively to project teams, assuming various roles and responsibilities to work effectively toward a common goal.
d. explore local and global issues and use collaborative technologies to work with others to investigate solutions.