The Project Zero Classroom: Reflecting on an Experience

Redesigning diapers! The final prototype: a compostable diaper with a sensor that connects to an app that alerts parents when its time for changing.

Redesigning diapers! The final prototype: a compostable diaper with a sensor that connects to an app that alerts parents when it’s time for changing.

This week the Agency by Design research team has been busy leading workshop sessions, presenting our work, and engaging with wonderful educators from all around the world at the Project Zero Classroom Summer Institute. We were particularly excited to work with participants who attended our mini-course: “Developing a Sensitivity to Design: How Making, DIY, and Design Experiences Can Activate Student Agency.”

During this session, we engaged participants in a series of hands-on activities that started with an exploration of the maker movement, design thinking, and other frameworks within which the Agency by Design project is situated. We then had participants look carefully at the design of objects before having them situate those objects within systems. After considering the multiple users who engage with their systems, participants jumped into a system redesign activity. In the end, participants considered the potential for cultivating the agency—and design sensitivities—of young people.

Facilitating these sessions helped expand our thinking on our core project themes, especially the relationship between agency and design. We learned a lot from working with so many enthusiastic educators. Below is a sampling of images of their work.

Imaging the parts, purposes, and ways in which Christmas lights are complex.

Situating Christmas lights within a variety of systems.

Redesigning bike helmets to alert users when its time to change the interior padding.

Redesigning bike helmets to alert users when its time to change the interior padding.

Packaging redesigned to be more transparent of the content of a can of tuna.

Packaging redesigned to be more transparent of the content of a can of tuna.

Exploding the interpol system through a passport  redesign.

Exploding the interpol system through a passport redesign.

Re-imagining the system of safety around the use of Christmas lights starts to pick up steam!

Re-imagining the system of safety around the use of Christmas lights starts to pick up steam!

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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 “The Project Zero Classroom: Reflecting on an Experience

  1. Hi,
    I participated in this DIY Design Thinking Session at HPZ and I was wondering if you have any resources or thoughts on doing this with elementary aged students in art? I am thinking about redesign processes and what would be good objects for them to work with in doing this process. Thank you for your time.

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