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Dive In! An Integrated Design Thinking/STEM Curriculum

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

K-12 and Pre-College Engineering Division Curriculum Exchange

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.440.1 - 24.440.2



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Paper Authors


Shelley Goldman Stanford University

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Shelley Goldman is a learning sciences researcher studying how design thinking and technologies can create better access and success for K-16 learners. Current work includes bringing broadening participation in STEM inside and outside of school. A professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and by Courtesy, Mechanical Engineering-Design Track, Goldman is on the faculty of the Learning, Design & Technology master’s program and the Learning Sciences & Technology Design doctoral program.

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Maureen Carroll

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Molly Bullock Zielezinski Stanford University


Aaron Loh Ministry of Education, Singapore

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Aaron graduated from Stanford’s Learning, Design and Technology Master’s program in 2012. He is currently the Principal of Commonwealth Secondary School, an innovative public school in Singapore. As an educator with more than 10 years of experience as a teacher, policy maker and school leader, Aaron is interested in redesigning public education through the use of technology and new pedagogical approaches. In particular, he believes that design thinking has the potential to reconnect students and educators with authentic and meaningful learning, and can nurture the empathy and creativity that they need to succeed in the 21st Century. Aaron also holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Cambridge, and a Masters in English and American literature from Stanford University.

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Eng Seng Ng Stanford University

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Stephanie Bachas-Daunert Stanford University

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We introduce teachers and students to STEM topics and careers by taking a designthinking approach, which we view as a variation of engineering practice that prioritizesempathy and user-centeredness. To date, we have worked with over 225 educators and350 students, exposing them to the connections among design thinking practices,engineering topics and careers, and the current K-12 education imperatives. The projectsupports the Common Core Standards (CCSS) and the Next Generation ScienceStandards (NGSS), which contain a critical mass of standards that are well aligned to thedesign thinking process and mindsets.Curriculum is a powerful means for connecting educators and students to design andSTEM learning. We team university students in the School of Engineering and GraduateSchool of Education to develop curriculum activities that they pilot in middle schools andin workshops with teachers. The lessons reflect those that the university students thinkwere impactful in their own pathways to engineering and STEM-related careers. Thematerials that are most effective in pilot testing are included in a widely disseminated,open-source curriculum.Dive In! An Integrated Design Thinking/STEM Curriculum provides an integratedapproach to building STEM knowledge and skills while engaging middle school studentsin identifying, defining, and designing solutions to in their communities and the largerworld. The focus of the curriculum is water. In this 40-hour program, students engage ina series of high-energy activities to solve water-based challenges. They learn about thewater conservation, drought, purification, recycling, patterns of use, water-relatedproducts and technologies that have been designed, and topical issues that impact localand global water usage. Samples of lessons include: engineering-related activities suchconducting a school water audit, teams building a water tower that meets specifications,and empathy-building with students carrying from a water source the amount of waternecessary daily to sustain a family of five.The curriculum engages the steps of the design thinking process, with studentsconducting interviews and observations, engaging in empathy-building activities, andusing evidence to develop user insights. Brainstorming activities and techniques givestudents ideas for solutions, and they build low-resolution prototypes, test them, andincorporate user feedback. Evaluations indicate that students leave the curriculum withSTEM content knowledge, an introduction to how engineers might work, and insightsabout design as a way to solve real-world problems.The teacher guide provides an overview of the project goals, background information ondesign thinking, teaching tips, a curriculum calendar overview, descriptions of materials,lesson plans, and supplemental media presentations. The activities are arranged so theyform a cohesive unit of study.This interactive session will demonstrate hands-on engineering task activities from theDive In! An Integrated Design Thinking/STEM Curriculum. Participants will leave thesession with sample lesson plans, information highlighting links to the Common CoreStandards and the Next Generation Science Standards, and the URL to download theopen-source curriculum.

Goldman, S., & Carroll, M., & Zielezinski, M. B., & Loh, A., & Ng, E. S., & Bachas-Daunert, S. (2014, June), Dive In! An Integrated Design Thinking/STEM Curriculum Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20331

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