Design Loft STEM Learning Program
500+ students, 250 teachers attending workshops, and 151 university students used design thinking, a problem solving and innovation process, to engage students in STEM topics and career possibilities.
The Design Loft STEM Learning Program is introducing 400 underserved middle school students in California to engineering careers. The goal of the program is to develop students' ability to define and create solutions for real world problems by using "design thinking." The program's learning activities expose students to design thinking tasks that produce low-cost engineering solutions to improve the lives of poor people around the world. Students are designing cost-effective ways of increasing impoverished people's access to water, shelter, and energy. The project's objectives are to (1) develop design-based intersession career camps, (2) create a professional community institute and web site for camp educators and teachers from partner schools, (3) develop a participant-mentoring course for STEM college students, and (4) assess the effectiveness of the design-based STEM career camp model. Anticipated outcomes include exposure of middle school students to design thinking and engineering careers, development of instructional resources for teachers, creation of a scalable model program for teaching and learning about design thinking and engineering careers, and collection of project effectiveness data.