Teaching Product Design in 8th Grade        

Nettelhorst Students Visit Beyond Design as part of SEE8

March 3, 2014

Last year, we teamed up with the Science & Entrepreneurship Exchange (SEE) and taught 8th grade students at Nettelhorst School, a Chicago Public School, about product development. We are thrilled that the program, which has been renamed SEE8, is being continued this year thanks to SEE and Studio 111. With a focus on experiential learning in entrepreneurship and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), SEE’s approach incorporates unique real-world startup, engineering, and design projects into existing curriculum in grades 1 – 8 (SEE1 through SEE8), engaging students with expert mentors and collaborators from universities (Northwestern University is a founding partner) and businesses. SEE8, the capstone of SEE, is designed to teach young students about new product development and entrepreneurship in a relevant, engaging, and unique way.


In SEE8, the entire class is divided into different groups and each team is given a mentor from either Studio 111 or Northwestern University who coach them through each step and encourage them to be creative thinkers and problem solvers. The design challenge for this year’s program is to solve kitchen clutter. The students will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges in mid-April, and, if all goes well, a Kickstarter campaign will launch in May.

Over the past few weeks the class has been taught lessons on design research, creating personas, and brainstorming. Last week they visited our studio to learn more about creating a big idea, sketching, and building mock-ups of their designs. Our designers walked them through our process and allowed them to practice sketching on our Cintiq’s. Each team presented their ideas at the end of the visit.

It was great to work with the students and learn more about their ideas. SEE8 teaches students important problem solving, presentation, and cognitive skills, as well as research methods, sales strategies, critical analysis, and manufacturing techniques. In addition, it encourages creative thinking, collaboration, team building, and leadership. It is an exceptional program and we look forward to seeing their final solutions next month. Thanks to all who visited!















For more information on the SEE program, or how to get involved, please visit here.

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