We are thrilled to share our explorations in design thinking with you! Our blog gets its name (exploraTOWNium) from our exciting juncture at Town School this year. While our school is under construction, the Lower School has temporarily moved to the recently vacated Exploratorium in San Francisco. While historically an incredible space for learning but quite an unconventional school space, it marks the perfect opportunity for the school to launch its “Explore New Ideas” initiative. As part of this initiative, we are integrating design thinking into our classrooms, school, and greater communities.
This blog is run by two teachers at Town School in San Francisco. Jennifer left the classroom last year to immerse herself as a graduate student at Stanford’s School of Education, where she spent the majority of her time at the d.school, teaming up with organizations using design thinking for school reform. She’s partnered her elementary students with Design for Extreme Affordability teams to serve as test users for product designs, introducing her students to social entrepreneurship and design thinking. Inspired by the agency, empathy, and creative confidence fostered through the process, she collaborated with film-maker Ralph King to lead design thinking workshops for middle school students based on his documentary, “Extreme by Design” (to be aired on PBS). She spent last summer creating the film’s facilitator guide. A proponent of constructivist learning experiences, she’s eager to apply all her learnings to her second grade classroom at Town, and beyond.
Tom is the 7th and 8th grade science teacher at Town, and after attending the 2010 Big Ideas Fest in Half Moon Bay, decided that design thinking would take center stage in his newly revamped 8th grade physics curriculum. His physics class has since transformed to become “Student as Designer and Engineer,” engaging middle-schoolers in a series of design thinking challenges creating spinning tops, boats, circuit-powered game boards, sustainable energy systems and more. He is dedicated to creating opportunities for his students to develop understanding of the natural word, and to use that understanding to tackle significant real-world problems. He looks forward to bringing design thinking into his 7th grade ecology course this year while coaching others in integrating design thinking into their curriculum.
If you’re interested, we’d love to collaborate! For elementary inquiries, please contact Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org. For middle school, please contact Tom at email@example.com.
For more about Town School, please visit the school website at: townschool.com