Getting stuck?

I came across this post by Katherine Sharpe of WIRED about a group of d-school students from Stanford that took their laser-cutters and 3-d printers on the road to visit elementary and middle schools.

Initially their goals were to introduce the kids to these whiz-bang new technologies….

Only one of the SparkTruck team had training in education. But when the group planned its workshops, Korsunskiy explained, they knew they wanted to emphasize the same skills and processes they’d learned in design school. “Somewhere in each activity, we wanted the kids to get stuck, physically or mentally,” he said.

But they found that the students were not used to design resourcefulness in general, and in particular, didn’t know what to do when they’d get ‘stuck’ with a problem.

Instead of answering their clamoring for ‘the answer’, (the one and only answer in their minds), the team leaders made them work it out on their own.  For example, how to keep the robot from tipping over?  Obviously there are many ways to approach that problem, but the kids wanted the team leaders just to tell ’em. No way.  They had to learn to be resourceful.

I remember this same attitude from some in architecture school.  There was always a small group of students who wanted to know exactly what it took to get an A.  How many drawings?  What sort of sections?  How much of a model?  It would drive me crazy…”just let me do what it took to tell the story of my building”.

American kids, in general, it turns out (no surprise) are not that good at creative solutions.  Maybe the best bet for our future is to buy shop tools, home economics labs, and let the kids CREATE!

In my 20’s I wanted to create a program to encourage drawing skill among educators.  Knowing that visual solutions speak volumes to math, science, history, literature, the ability to draw a great diagram, or to think creatively would inspire the students to do the same.  YET, very few Ed programs require teachers to have THIS skill for sure!  I’d begin there…

All photos credited to

*It says Sparktruck, not ‘Stucktruck’….the answers do come if you keep looking for them.

Published by Alexis Wittman

Artist, Designer, Writer, Facilitator living in Northern Michigan Architectural Engineer/Designer owner of Architectural Research + Design.

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