Last Thursday, Dearest was invited to ‘Take Your Kids to Work Day‘ at WeWork’s headquarters in Chelsea, NY. We led thirty-five children, aged three through twelve, and their families through interactive activities specifically designed to spark children’s interest in engineering, sustainable design, and the importance of community. The afternoon’s workshops were lead by Dearest Educator Allison Gordon with support from nine other educators and staff.
Building off of Stanford University’s d.school method of design thinking, children first explored the concept of ideating (brainstorming!) by building a new city, Mrooklyn, from the ground up. Younger children worked with stickers and pipe cleaners to explore unexpected and innovative design options during their ideating session. Older children worked with blueprints and drawing pencils to map out their construction ideas; they paid special attention to scale and accessibility.
When children finished ideating, they began to design their prototype. Using recycled materials from WeWork HQ, our Dearest Architects began to build Mrooklyn one structure at a time. They investigated design alternatives while referencing their blueprints and carefully selected the materials they believed would best allow them to create their prototype. Children were asked to think about the needs of their Mrooklyn citizens and the ideas of other children in their table group while they constructed their city together.
Their final results were amazing! At the end of our first activity, the city of Mrooklyn consisted of tiny schools, giant homes, neon garages, underground candy factories, and even a reptile house!
After Mrooklyn was finished, Dearest Educators asked their team some questions about the design process, what they choose to build, and why.
During the second half of the workshop, we explored two more design thinking concepts: empathizing and defining. After our Dearest Educators provided examples of both concepts, children had the opportunity to interview their parents about their job and their commute.
Children incorporated what they had learned about empathy during their post-interview conversation with their parents. During that conversation, children were asked to define a problem their parents brought up during their interview that they could solve together.
From nap-pods to mind-reading machines, children used design thinking to reframe their parents’ complex problems and offer innovative, human-centric solutions!
We ended the day with some student show-and-tells from New York’s youngest design thinkers.
Looking to recreate this experience in the comfort of your home or for family-oriented programming for your company? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can make it happen!