Design Thinking: Girls and Engineering

Objectives: 
  • Evaluate roles in education where teachers become activators and co-learners who model "learning to learn"
  • Assess the impact of real world design on student learning and motivation
Interview Notes and Resulting Lesson
One area I am passionate about is equal opportunities for girls and young women to explore engineering.  My college, Olin College of Engineering, is one of very few engineering programs to achieve equal numbers of men and women in admission and graduation.  I want to reduce barriers for and actively encourage girls in Byron to join Robotics, take technical courses, and fully engage with engineering.  In particular, I wanted to create a clear pathway for females to sign up for, and do well in, my Grand Challenge Design (GCD) course.  However, I didn't even pretend to have an understanding of my audience.

Before planning the second iteration of GCD, I wanted to better understand Byron's 10th and 11th-grade girls.  To do so, I selected five students to interview.  The interviews gave me a window to learn more about their extra-curricular interests and how they experienced technology-heavy coursework in school.  The results of the conversations were very insightful.  This led to a synthesizing activity where I identified common trends, key ideas, and areas for further opportunity (2nd item below).  Given the timing of the year, the synthesis led to the planning of an exploratory lesson open to all students.  This lesson recruited 12 girls and 12 boys to tuse Arduino microcontrollers to make LED art (3rd artifact).  All three are created by Andy Pethan.

Interview notes (late September 2016):

Synthesis ("Say Think Do Feel" empathy map, early October 2016):

Arduino Art Lesson (early October 2016):


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