Fostering Creative Problem Solving with Design Thinking for Kids

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Written by Joe Pilcavage,
• 5 min read

One of the biggest things we take for granted as adults is the sheer amount of unfiltered creativity and curiosity that comes with being a kid. We can spend hours turning cardboard boxes and paper towel rolls into rocket ships that fly us from one galactic adventure to the next. We find fun in even the most mundane chores or tasks by simply making a game out of it. We ask “why” more times than our parents can or want to humor us answering. But by the time we’ve grown up and made our way into the workforce, we’ve forgotten or written-off that aspect of our lives.

If we simply spent more time and energy nurturing that side of our brain along the way though, we would undoubtedly be happier, more successful, and even more thoughtful as adults, professionally and personally speaking. In the most general sense, what I’m talking about is fostering a growth mindset.

As part of our thinkFWD initiative, we believe that we have the power to help develop that mindset for children and adults alike. This past Friday, we put that belief to work as we partnered with a local school in New Haven, Elm City Elementary, to host an interactive workshop focused on introducing fourth grade students to the concept of design thinking.

Before jumping into a fun-filled design challenge, we thought a great way to acclimate the students to our space and some of the concepts we’d be discussing would be to let them see it first hand by taking a tour of our space within the District campus.

We also held an AMA-style (ask me anything) panel discussion inviting the students to get to know our team a bit better, having an amazing dialogue that spanned everything from what inspires us to how we can use things like typography to make our audience “feel.” One student even asked candidly about the mission of thinkFWD which really lit us up!

Playing into a LEGO themed session jam-packed with superheroes and other cartoon favorites, students worked attentively through the full design thinking process – from interviewing each other, to sketching concepts, to presenting their final prototypes with the group.

The takeaway? A little bit of curiosity, courage, and imagination together, can go a long way – allowing us to create new ideas, solutions, or inventions capable of changing the world for the better. As facilitators, watching how natural it was for kids to wrap their head around that concept and immediately rise to the challenge was truly inspiring.

From their incredibly deep, thoughtful questions in our panel discussion to the prototypes they were able to build in a matter of minutes, we’ve never been so grateful for the chance to work with a group of students. This class in particular will be carrying this forward the tools and techniques from our time together into an on-going set of group projects they’re working on that from the sound of it, has the potential to make a massive impact in the community. Either way, we can’t wait to see what comes next!



Looking to hold a design thinking workshop for your school, business, or organization? Let us know!