Design Thinking Lab: Teaching Students How To Solve Real World Problems

By: Yonina Lermer
from Yeshiva Har Torah

Real-World Learning

Subject(s) of entry:
Engineering, Science

Design-Thinking Model, PBL - project based learning

Grade(s) to which this was taught:
5, Elementary school

Grade(s) for which this will be useful:
K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Elementary school, Middle school

Children and adults are faced with challenges every day at home, school, and work. Design Thinking is a creative process geared to solve these difficult challenges in a “people focused” approach. In this unit, students will learn about Design Thinking and the steps and process it involves. Then, they will set out to solve challenges.

Entry Narrative

Design Thinking is taking the world by storm. Many educators are incorporating Design Thinking into their lesson plans. But, can we teach the STUDENTS the steps involved in Design Thinking to help them solve challenges in their day to day lives?

See below for a brief Introduction to Design Thinking for Educators.

This unit consists of two main parts.


Part One

The goal of Part One is to introduce students to the steps of Design Thinking. They learn and practice using each step. Students become familiar with how companies use Design Thinking to solve problems and challenges around them.

See below for Design Thinking Curriculum: Lesson Plans.

See below for the Slides and Student Note-taking Packet used to help students record and keep track of each step in Part One.


Part Two

Students use their knowledge from Part One to help them solve a real world design challenge. Children are asked to create a wallet/bag for their partner that will serve his/her needs.

See below for the Wallet Challenge Packet that was used in Part Two.



As a teacher, I was thrilled to see how excited the students were to be in a class that was truly hands-on and was intended to help them beyond the classroom walls!

See below for more on Teacher Reflections.


Pictures and Videos

Click here for pictures and videos of the project in action.


For Fun

The students enjoyed watching a television show on PBS called Design Squad. The program shows that inventing and engineering are active, fun and collaborative. Eight high school students are grouped into two teams of four to tackle engineering projects for real world problems. On each episode, the teams have two days to design, build, test and redesign their product before one team’s creation is declared best.

Click here for a sample episode.

Entrant Bio(s)

Yonina Lermer is in her 10th year of teaching. Yonina has a BA from Yeshiva University Stern College for Women and graduated with a NY State Teacher's License. She received two Masters from the Azrieli Graduate School for Jewish Education - one in Jewish Education and one in General Education, Grades 1 through 6. Yonina has taught various grades and subjects, ranging from 2nd grade to 7th grade. She is always looking to find ways to make her curriculum engaging, practical, and progressive.