Thursday, October 24, 2013

Rapid Prototyping -v- TMI

Last summer I learned about rapid prototyping at the Henry Ford Learning Institute in Detroit.  It's a great way of working through a series of gradually improving prototypes in order to get feedback from the people who will be using the product before making decisions about final manufacture.  This morning I was with our Grade 5s who were finding out about the job of an architect as part of their inquiry into structures and culture for their Where We Are in Place and Time unit of inquiry.  Sam, the architect, showed the students his sketch books and photos of some of the models he makes before going on to build.  Having already been thinking about the scientific method yesterday, it's clear that the design thinking cycle is very different from the step by step linear process of the scientific method.

Gary Stager has got another, simpler, design model that he calls TMI:  think, make, improve.  I first saw this model at the ISTE pre-conference and found it a simple model that can be used with elementary students.  Here are the steps:

Think:  brainstorm, talk, predict, gather materials, identify expertise, decide whether to work in groups or alone, set goals, sketch, research, plan.
Make:  play, build, tinker, create, program, experiment, construct, deconstruct, test, observe, share, document, question
Improve: research, talk, look at things from a different perspective, change materials, change variables, ask an expert, etc.

Sam, this morning, told the Grade 5s that he decided he wanted to build things as a young child - around the age of 7 - by playing with Lego.  This week we are having the students play too - and having them design pretty cool structures using SketchUp.  Sam said that if we can imagine it we can make it.

Tonight on the #pypchat question 4 was this:  "What words should you never hear in an inquiry classroom?"  I know what Gary Stager would say to this - he would say you should never hear the words "I'm done".  There is always room to improve!

By the way, the architecture above is in Beijing.  It was designed by Zaha Hadid, and Iranian architect living in the UK.
Photo Credit: Ahmed ElHusseiny via Compfight cc

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