Welcome to Making Thinking Happen!

Members of the Agency by Design Learning Community have fun looking at complex objects during a “sensitivity to design” study group session at Park Day School in Oakland, CA.

Welcome to Making Thinking Happen, the official blog of the Agency by Design research and development initiative at Project Zero, a research organization at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Through the support of the Abundance Foundation the focus of this project is to explore the learning opportunities that exist at the intersection of the maker movement, design thinking, and extant Project Zero frameworks.

There are two primary strands of activity for this study. The first is a series of interviews with designers, makers, tinkerers, artists, and educators involved with design thinking and the maker movement, paired with a review of literature related to these domains.

Given the rising presence of design thinking and maker programming in schools and after school programs, the second strand of activity of this study involves a partnership with a group of K-12 educators from several schools in the Temescal region of Oakland, California. Through classroom-based activities and action research, we’ll be investigating ways to strengthen students’ cognitive development in three areas: (1) the capacity to recognize and appreciate the design dimensions of objects, ideas, and systems; (2) the capacity to be agents of change with regard to design in the world, and; (3) the capacity to think and learn through tinkering.

Our exploratory studies have already brought us into contact with a wide range of topics and an incredible array of individuals including machinists, engineers, architects, hackers, airplane builders, ArtScientists, and even the designers of gigantic Burning Man sculptures that are intentionally set on fire and burned to the ground deep in the desert.

Following the open-source spirit of the DIY movement, we have established this blog (and a variety of other social media platforms) to bring a wider readership into our research process by sharing our experiences—and our emergent thoughts—while engaging a broad community of educators and innovators in conversations around the ideas that we will be developing. Our goal is to provide our readers with a new blog post about every 10-14 days. In the time between posts, we look forward to your comments and responses to some of the big questions we’ll be wrestling with in this virtual space. On this site you will also find a full description of the Agency by Design project (see the About Us page), as well as select commentary on the literature we are reviewing (see the What We’re Reading page).

To begin the discussion, we would be delighted to hear from you: What does it mean to see the world like a designer? What is “maker thinking?” What kinds of thinking dispositions characterize a tinkerer? We encourage you to use the below comment boxes to share your initial thoughts on these topics—and to later follow us on our journey as we collectively work towards “making thinking happen.”

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About Edward P. Clapp

Edward is a senior research manager and a member of the core research team working on the Agency by Design initiative at Project Zero, an educational research center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). Edward’s current research interests include creativity and innovation, maker-centered education, design thinking, and contemporary approaches to arts teaching and learning. In addition to his work as an educational researcher, Edward is a lecturer on education at HGSE. Web: http://scholar.harvard.edu/edwardclapp Social: @edwardpclapp

One thought on “Welcome to Making Thinking Happen!

  1. I have been in communication with folks from MENTOR Makerspace who aim to put 1,000 makerspaces in schools over the next few years — an incredible and daunting charge. I have also started to consult with a local school to assist their R&D process leading up to building an in house design-thinking lab and Makerspace, and am speaking with folks involved in Stanford d.school’s K12 movement, using their resources to transform our organization (a project based learning start-up) to one entirely informed by human centered design. To know that such incredible researchers are undergoing a dedicated project to see how design-thinking and making intersect most profoundly with learning is rather satisfying and so needed. I sincerely look forward to learning from all you do!

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