Last Friday, we had 5th grade students from Nettelhorst School, a K-8 Chicago public school, visit our studio. Nettelhorst has partnered with McCormick School of Engineering students at Northwestern University to teach students (beginning in the 4th grade) about mechanical engineering. Throughout the program, the students learn about manufacturing processes and have the opportunity to use McCormick’s prototyping lab and injection-mold machinery to design and manufacture a product of their own creation.
As a follow-up to the 4th grade program, the 5th grade class conducted market research on their product to find out additional information about user wants and needs. The students spent the morning at our studio presenting their research and getting feedback from our team. We helped them apply their data to various features and specifications that could be used to modify their design. They had some well thought-out ideas on features they could add and a lot of questions to ask us regarding which was the best route.
In addition to the presentations, we introduced them to the product development process and helped them understand the different methods we use for conveying an idea. We showed them a few of the products we have designed and helped them identify the various materials used, the manufacturing processes, and determine approximate costs. The purpose of this workshop was to put into perspective how much things cost and how feasible a certain material is when designing their product concepts.
They were able to practice their presentation skills as well as the manufacturing knowledge they have learned over the past year. It was amazing to hear everything they already knew about manufacturing principles. The students also had the opportunity to sketch on our Cintiq’s – which they loved!
The program at Nettelhorst is a great way to teach STEM to students at a young age. It integrates entrepreneurism with foundational engineering and problem-solving, CAD, rapid prototyping, and manufacturing. It’s an educational, hands-on, and exciting program. You can learn more about the program in the video below.
We enjoyed having the students visit and hope everyone had a great time! Thanks to the parents, teachers, and NU student volunteers for helping out!
If you’re interested in scheduling a visit to Beyond Design with your elementary, high school, or college class, feel free to contact Jessie here. We are passionate about design education and would welcome the opportunity!