M.A.D. Design Thinking: How Fourth Graders Made a Difference in Their Community

Fourth Graders at Kalamazoo Country Day School are M.A.D., or making a difference in their own community through Design Thinking. In January, KCDS fourth graders decided to use the Design Thinking process to reach out to their surrounding community. They chose to work with Adult Day Services at Oakland Center. The fourth graders began by empathizing with their users, and the challenges of growing older. After identifying four issues, they visited the guests at the Oakland Centre to better understand their needs. For several months, the students worked through the process of identifying and understanding the needs of the user, designing prototypes, presenting to their peers, and redesigning their prototypes. During the iteration process, students discussed the design features, flaws, usability, and even storage issues. Once the students finalized their design, they invited middle school students, as well as, the sewing teacher, to work with them on the final prototypes. Recently, on a sunny May day, the fourth graders presented their M.A.D. Design Thinking ideas to the guests and staff of the Oakland Centre. Their ideas were a BIG hit! The students created the following adaptive equipment that will be used by guests at Oakland Centre to increase their independence through activity:
Call It! Bingo- a 3D printed plastic flip chart that displays the letter and number for Bingo calls. This helps guests who cannot hear well.
E-Z Beader- a 3D printed plastic tube and funnel that holds pipe cleaners for E-Z beading, as well as, capturing beads, keeping them from rolling onto the floor and out of guest’s reach.
Card Steps- a 3D printed plastic table-top holder for playing cards. It helps guests who frequently drop cards or cannot hold them easily.
Strap-N-Eat- an elastic/fabric band that straps on the guest’s hand to keep silverware in place, even if the guest lets go.
The fourth graders at Kalamazoo Country Day School really are Making a Difference!

Does your school do something similar?

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