New Intro to Industrial Design offering leads to incredible work by eighth graders

The eighth graders in Nathan Aldredge's new Intro to Industrial Design course are creating "intimidatingly good work." After completing the One Schoolhouse Pedagogy Boot Camp, Aldredge set up his class with hybrid learning in mind. "I originally wrote it for high school, but adapted it to test it as an eighth grade rotational class. And what they have done with it is design—even for a Lab student—beyond what a 13 or 14 year old would be capable of. It is kind of intimidating!"

The course is a combination of business, new technology, and art. Students are taught that for their designs, there has to be a user, it has to function, and it has to be economically viable. They experience the steps of product planning, writing papers, and finding the most efficient way to bring their "products" to market. Aldredge instructs them in thinking about everything from whether their designs are aesthetically pleasing to what their key performance indicators are. They learn how to code, how to utilize Tinkercad to render their designs, and how to present their projects. They are even learning how to look up patents to learn more about the designers that created their favorite items.

This past year, students have designed everything from apps to wands to custom LEGO® pieces.

"When students were remote, I would send them kits. For one project we were learning block-based coding and I sent them a circuit playground, LEGO pieces, and digital calipers. It was super successful, I was so impressed with what the kids completed while remote."

For projects that needed to be 3D printed, they would send in their files and Aldredge would print them at Lab and then mail them back. "With remote learning it was actually more of a real life design process. You're waiting one or two weeks to get your prototype so you have time to think about it and adapt. It's been really fun to see what they can create."

Intro to Industrial Design will be offered at the high school level in the fall, and again at the middle school level if there is enough interest.

Toast app created by eighth grader Sonali Shaw

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