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How design thinking can empower our children to create a better future.

Author: Angela Chan - Founder of Hackathons Australia

Instagram @hackaus | Twitter: @hackaus |

Design is integrated in everything we do. From the way we get out of our beds and switch on our lights, to the way we put our clothes on, and how we get to work, every single product and service we consume has been designed for humans.

Design thinking is a process for creative problem solving. It harnesses the value of empathy as its starting point to come up and test problem-based solutions. The world's leading companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook and others have adopted this way of thinking to solve problems, and with huge success.

However design thinking is not just for designers. Another terminology for design thinking is 'human centred design'. As its name states, it is focused on humans- the way we see and perceive, the way we think and conceptualise, the way we feel with emotions and the way we act and take action. It's a process which is applicable to all types of industries and areas, where people are included in the process.

Traditionally our schools are focused on following steps to achieve academic excellence. Scoring the highest mark means that you are able to absorb knowledge and put it into practice when a problem is put in front of you. Design thinking involves higher creative intelligence. It's the ability to grasp a concept, be able to join the dots, deliver creative solutions which can be actionable to drive innovation.

So how can we integrate this type of thinking when educating our children know that they will be the our next generation leaders?

These are the 5 steps we go through during our design-a-thon workshops

1. Empathy

At the start of every workshop we start by setting the scene so that the students have an opportunity to understand the needs of those they are designing for. Last year we had David Hansell, Facebook's Global Aviation Policy Lead who shared with the children the future developments of drones on a worldwide scale. Students then got into teams and had a chance to talk about their observations and how they could be affected by these changes.

2. Define

The next step is to define the opportunity or problem. Ideas without a need is like putting an unmatched piece of a puzzle into a puzzle. If we start with understanding what we want to achieve, we can clearly identify how we put the pieces of the puzzle together! Students then go through a template where they let us know what the problem is and who this affects. This will set up the stage for the next phase.

3. Ideate

This is one of the most exciting parts of the workshop where we want the kids to think outside the box.. If there's a box! What does the future hold? How can we creatively make something that is desirable, feasible and viable? Here, we want to see and hear from every student and the combination in a group atmosphere allows magic to happen. Every idea is a good idea. Students will then need to choose one to see how they can further develop it.

4. Prototype

The way we've designed this next phase is a hands-on experience. Arts and craft is a perfect avenue to get the children to build something out of nothing. It's like putting Lego pieces at the centre and asking the students to use what they have to build a rapid prototype of what they think is the best proposed solution. Having the kids make something that we can touch and feel brings the idea to reality.

5. Test

The last stage of this process is to test the solution out. We get every team to speak about the process they've gone through and present it in front of an industry panel. Building these communication skills at an early stage and making sure the students feel empowered is an important part of our program. Students get awarded and get to takeaway something to show their family and friends!

Experiential learnings is integral in developing not only a child's knowledge, but also emotional and creative intelligence. It's an opportunity to create an actionable result that leads to further experimentation.

Watch last year's Designathon Video:

World of Drones Education and Hackathons Australia have teamed up to deliver the inaugural 'Design a Drone' workshop in Brisbane on Thursday 25 September from 2-5pm.

This is a ripe opportunity for students to hear from the world's leading drone companies and thought leaders, as well as get hands-on by going through a design-thinking process.

With a chance to win DJI Tello Drones and a session to be surrounded by like-minded individuals in a supportive and safe environment, this is an opportunity not to be missed!

For more information on the event and to register, click here:

Angela Chan

Founder - Hackathons Australia

Instagram @hackaus

Twitter: @hackaus

(Photo courtesy of Schneider Electric Australia)


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