Nurturing Creative, Confident Learners with Design Thinking
At Ramaz, we integrate design thinking throughout our Lower and Middle School General and Judaic Studies curriculum to immerse students in solving real-world problems. Their journey begins with learning about empathy — stepping into the shoes of another and understanding the needs of a group of people.
Using what they learn, students work collaboratively to define a problem - asking questions such as, “How might we develop solutions to everyday problems that might hinder an individual’s independence or inclusion?” This video illustrates a brainstorming session for a design challenge, partnering with the Israeli organization, ADI. From there, students design a prototype and test their product or service. At any point in the process, student “designers” may revisit different parts of the process to adapt, change, or simply fine-tune their work before moving forward.
To see what Design Thinking Looks like at Ramaz, view these videos:
Design Thinking Results: Portrait Gallery Installation
Explaining the Design Thinking Process
Building Empathy: Early Childhood Center
A Place to Design: Innovation Lab
What tools and spaces are needed to help cultivate a community of empathetic learners who care about giving more than taking, and that propels students to look beyond their own community and solve problems on a local or even global scale?
This is the ethos of the two Innovation Labs located in our Lower School and Middle School buildings.
Our innovation labs are physical spaces dedicated to encouraging students to take creative risks as learners, so that they develop, share, and execute their ideas. These labs incorporate science, technology, and the humanities, serving as places in which students develop skills as human-centered designers who feel they can affect positive change, revolving around environmental and social impact.
Projects in the Innovation Lab address issues that center around the well-being of the environment, as well as issues that affect local and global communities. Aligning with the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), students are empowered to not only discuss and bring awareness to prevalent issues on a local and global scale, but more importantly, how to take action. Coursework at the Lab advances students’ technology skills around computer science, physical computing, coding, 3D design, digital fabrication, VR, AR, & digital storytelling.
What Does the Design Thinking Process Look Like?
This process helps our students’ become more self aware, self regulating, and responsible decision-makers.
A Sample of Our Design Projects
Grow Happy! Design for Social Emotional Learning
Inspired by the book, Grow Happy, by Jon Lasser, first through fourth graders creatively represented their ideas (pictured above) about making good choices, taking care of their bodies and minds, paying attention to their feelings and those of others. Students made interactive posters and became digital storytellers learning coding and programming skills as they looked for ways to answer the question, “How might we build upon our social-emotional skills to navigate our school day with flexibility and resilience?”
“Middot”-Marks (Landmarks Representing Core Values “Middot”)
Each year, second graders study landmarks of New York City, seeking answers to the question, “How might we design landmarks that symbolize the core values (Middot) of a community, and promote a sense of belonging for all?” Students interview members of their community to learn about values that are important to them. They work in collaborative groups to brainstorm ideas, prototype structures, and learn 3D design to digitally represent their work using the program Tinkercad.