Lesson 3: What does successful Design Thinking look like?

Return to The Design Thinking Process

RG Design Thinking.png

This lesson is going to focus on evaluating a design thinking project. We are going to start with a challenge that was given to fourth graders.

Driving Question: How can your team of design engineers design and create a simple, affordable, electronic device for Apple?

The Process of the Project

Empathize The students began this project by empathizing with the values of Apple, and then learning about how electrical circuits work.

The following quotes are from Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple.

  • "We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot."
  • "We don't settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we're wrong and the courage to change."
  • "We believe that we're on the face of the Earth to make great products."
  • "We believe in the simple, not the complex."

The student determined which of these quotes were the most important to create a successful Apple product.The students then experimented with electrical circuit components to figure out what was necessary to make a complete circuit. They also explained how electricity moves through an entire circuit.


The challenge was altered to meet the needs of ELL students within our school.

The students came up with the following defining problem statement:

English Language Learners need a device that will repeat things back to them, fit on their desk, and look nice.

Some students took the initiative to add different things that the device would do, but that was the basic sentence that was created.


Examples of Sketches from students:

Yoonha Sketch.png
Yasu Sketch.png
Simona Sketch.png
Andrew Sketch.png

Examples of Blueprints from students:

Michelle Blueprint.png
Simona Blueprint.png

Prototype and Test

These two stages of the process allowed to students to create the blueprint they have made. The students then tested their devices for any failure points that may have appear and then adjusted their prototypes to fix them.


This Video shows the entire project in action: Designing an "Apple" Device

Design Thinking Evaluation

Now that you have read about and watched an entire design thinking project in an elementary school, it is time to evaluate it. The questions listed below are also posted in the google classroom. You can respond to these and to other's responses in this collaborative space.

How well did this process work?

Did the students seem to understand the project and make appropriate prototypes?

Was the entire design thinking process utilized?

What changes could be made to this challenge to make it even better?


This unit was a collaborative unit created by David Lee, Gene MacLachlan and Becca Goess.

Move on to: Lesson 4: Design Thinking & You!