The similarities between PBL and Design Thinking are numerous. Both are pedagogical models rooted in real-world practice. Both heavily utilize communication, critical thinking among other 21st century competencies. And both are "all the rage" right now and being used in classrooms across the world regularly.
Many teachers are passionate advocates of these approaches to learning and problem solving, but don’t know where to go “next” with their projects. While there is nothing wrong with re-using strong projects over and over so that all students get the enjoy them, many practivioners ask, "What’s the '2.0' version look like?"
Well here are three ways to upgrade your PBL/DT game on your next project!
1) Real World Scholars - RWS is a non-profit that helps students gain real world experience as inventors and entrepreneurs. They provide classes with seed money to start a business run exclusively by the students. They are the product designers, manufacturers, and marketers who eventually sell their products for real money which is sent to an earmarked charity of the students choosing. All of the legal and tax stuff is handled by RWS which is great news for the teachers! The 3rd graders at Neil Cummins Elementary creates pet toys which they tested out with the help of the classroom dog! https://www.marinhumane.org/pawsome-pet-toys/
2) The Extraordinares - What do you get when you combine a design thinking curriculum with super heroes? You get The Extraordinares, a game-based instructional tool that teaches kids all about design thinking in a fun and exciting way. Students act as designers who design solutions to challenges brought to them by a colorful cast of characters, like pirates, ninjas, and astronauts. Since the design challenges are all based on comic-style artwork it’s a great tool for ELL students as well! https://www.extraordinaires.com
3) Patents - Students who are gifted when it comes to design may come up with new solutions that they could patent, but the process is cumbersome and beyond most K-12 kids to understand. Until now! The US Patent Office has a free curriculum which teaches students about filing patents and trademarking ideas and also holds summits for teachers who are interested in helping their students with their designs. https://www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/outreach-and-education