497-310: The STEM Education Innovation Challenge

Meeting Days/Time
Tuesdays from 1:50 to 4:30 pm
Marilee Bowles-Carey (ID) (marilee1@comcast.net)
Appropriate Disciplines
Social Innovation

The STEM Education Challenge allows student teams to interact directly with a real client, real stakeholders and real users inside a public charter school and to develop a portfolio of actionable solutions to the stated problem.

Students will form small teams and tackle an agreed-upon problem. Each team will re-frame and tackle the problem in its own way, creating opportunities to share and collaborate as well as compete informally with the other teams.

In this Challenge, students will work with the Academy for Global Citizenship, a K-8 CPS charter school on the South side of Chicago. AGC has been working to incorporate human centered design methods into both curriculum and practice and is eager to partner with Illinois Tech students to discover innovative solutions to real problems faced by the school community. This project offers a rare opportunity for an IPRO team to work directly inside a public school with students, teachers and parents and to experience first-hand interactions with an authentic client and real stakeholders.

Conversations with a stakeholder like AGC will provide context for framing the IPRO STEM Challenge problem and developing insights that can lead to innovative concepts for the STEM Education experience. Possible problem areas include: enabling technology; informally integrating STEM education in non-STEM activities and subject matter; redesigning physical classroom space; conceiving interdisciplinary hands-on projects; and motivating/mentoring underrepresented groups in STEM.

We will spend the majority of time in the class MICRO PILOTING student prototypes as a way to learn about context/users and as a tool for testing concepts. (Making-to-learn/making-to-decide.)

There will be three juried critiques in the class:

  1. First mid-process presentation: focuses on identifying STEM Education opportunities that align with the STEM partners mentioned above. (problem framing with data).
  2. Second mid-process presentation: focuses on the proposal for addressing the solution (creative concept development).
  3. Final presentation: focuses on analysis of the outcomes of at least three iterative micro-pilots.

To help guide the semester-long work of the team, important components of the IPRO Challenge course include: conducting research (secondary and primary); characterizing user/stakeholder needs (consumers, carriers, manufacturers, government agencies, offenders); developing specifications; creating a taxonomy; brainstorming and prototyping concepts; and documenting work.

The entire process looks like this:

  1. Weeks 1 and 2: Initial problem frame. (Partner introduces problem.)
  2. Weeks 3 and 4: Developing a point of view. (the team reviews existing observational and secondary research; the team re-frames the problem based on analysis of data.)
  3. Weeks 5 and 6: Developing and evaluating concepts. (the team explores and evaluates concepts.)
  4. Weeks 7 to 15: Micro-piloting. (the team builds prototypes and tests them with users.)

By way of introduction, Marilee Bowles-Carey is a practicing design strategist with a professional focus on education. She holds an MDes from IIT Institute of Design and an MBA from IIT Stuart School of Business. Her background is in Graphic Design, with a BFA in Graphic Design from University of Michigan and over 35 years of experience as a designer.

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