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Matt Allio

Crafting a Design Thinking Program

I’m thrilled that we’ve built Design Thinking into a full class this year at Trinity. Led by Alex Williams, our Design Thinking Instructor and Maker Space Coordinator, students are solidifying their ability to collaborate, experiment, accomplish – and, importantly – test their hypotheses in a safe environment.

We don’t often think of the act of “building” as inherently empathetic. But from an educational perspective, Design Thinking is a collaborative problem-solving exercise that asks students to think about outcomes that benefit others. Students set their own assumptions about their classrooms, schools, neighborhoods or the world aside in order to better understand what might work for someone else.

Below, Alex explains a bit about what students have done in the first quarter this year, and what is to come. I look forward to seeing this program flourish under his leadership, and our door is always open to your feedback.


Coordinating the Maker Space is a dream come true for me. My father was an electrical and mechanical engineer, so there were gadgets and tools abound in our home. My curious mind found plenty of ways to explore and experiment. Some ended with success. Most ended in failure. They all helped me learn. Over the years, some of those childhood dreams led to real-world accomplishments, among them, the opportunity to teach Design Thinking.

“Specials” at Trinity School are more than just extra-curricular periods outside of the homeroom. They are another opportunity for collaboration, experimentation, and giving students more chances to find their voice. In Design Thinking, students can apply academic and social-emotional work from their home classrooms while expressing themselves through different projects and assignments.

In the first quarter of our year, students have been completing short-term assignments aimed at familiarizing themselves with some of the processes and tools available in the Makerspace. We have done lessons in coding, 3D modeling, 2D cutting (for example, vinyl cutting), and 3D printing. These exercises introduce materials meant to challenge students, while still providing scaffolding and support to avoid frustration or stress.

Here is a list of resources that have been used with different levels.

  • ECP-K: Strawbees, Code and Go Mice, Codeapiller, and OSMO
  • G1, G2, G3: LEGO WeDo 2.0, OSMO Coding, Tynker, Makers Empire, Tinkercad
  • G4, G5: Tinkercad, Fusion 360, Mindstorms, Tynker, Brother CanvasWorkspace

Going forward, classes will start to work on more design thinking projects that involve various units with specific requirements and goals but greater freedom as to the final results they present. Students will use planning and documentation to guide their work as they visualize, refine, and create their final products. This is a core component in ISTE standards. There will also be an emphasis on the importance of empathy in the design process. Specifically, focusing on the wants and needs of others in lieu of our own preferences.

If you have any questions about the resources we are using or would like to offer assistance in a particular field (i.e. sewing, woodworking, soldering, drafting, 3D animation, etc.), please email me at awiiliams@trinity-mp.org.

Alex Williams

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