Invention Challenge: Third World Designers

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Objective: The goal of this activity is to introduce or dig deeper into the Design Thinking process. Students are given a scenario, and various materials with which an invent a solution.


1. Present this slide, ask the question “Who invented the light bulb?” then watch the video that ensues.

2. On pieces of paper, hand out the scenarios to students at tables in groups of three or 4. Here’s a link to some examples. 

3. Next- let them do the How Might We challenge activity. Here is the link. Write this link on the board so they can access the doc:

4. Hand them a bag of various materials including:

  • 8 Popsicle Sticks
  • 3 Zip Ties, 2 big, 2 small.
  • Plastic from some packaging that they can cut up. (or pieces of cardboard).
  • Masking Tape
  • String (2 arms length)
  • 2 magnets
  • 2 Metal ring labels. 

The goal of the How Might We activity is for them to pare the problem down to a solvable problem (in the form of a question). Their finished design will be the answer to this question. They can choose to do copy and write on that Google Doc, or use a white board to write our their questions.

5. Let them build.

6. Let them present their solutions. Ask them what their “challenge question” was they chose to work on and present their solution. Give them feedback on how they worked as a group, and ask for them to give feedback on how they think they worked together.

7. Show them the final slide on the first presentation. They should get a kick out of it.