Empathy Guides Good Design

IMG_9286Empathy is a key component to the design process. In order to be a good designer, you have to be able to put yourself in other people’s shoes. A designer must understand the needs, emotions, and interests of the people they are designing for to better inform the development of their work.

Last week, the Problem Solving Through Design class began its first project by considering a problem that affects our entire community. Students were tasked with designing a product that can easily be attached to our dining room chairs to prevent the seat from folding when a small amount of weight is applied to the back. For the Middle and Upper School students, this means that they could safely put their bag on a chair without the seat folding and dropping the bag through to the floor. More importantly, it means that our Lower School students will able to sit comfortably at the back of the seat, without the chair folding and causing them to slide through the back.

Problem Solving students began their work by talking to members of the community to gauge how the chairs are being utilized, the functional requirements of the chairs, and the extent of the existing problems. This included maintenance staff who are often tasked with folding the chairs up for storage, Lower School teachers who have seen their students fall victim to the unexpected folding seat, and classmates who use the chairs on a daily basis and have often lost their bag through the back. This information guided the Problem Solving teams through the design process to ultimately create two completely different solutions.

Today, students are constructing their first prototypes using various equipment and materials in the Maker Space, testing their designs, and working on a presentation that they will be giving next week.

Stay tuned to the Student Portfolio tab to see the results of their work.

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