University of Cape Town: UCT launches Design Thinking in STEM short course

In an effort to foster creative thinking in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Hasso Plattner School of Design Thinking (d-school) has launched the Design Thinking in STEM programme to encourage scientists to use design-thinking methodologies to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.

Launched in partnership with Siemens Stiftung, the six-week programme is fully subsidised for STEM educators and will run as a series of multi-day workshops. It kicks off on Saturday, 23 October, and concludes on Saturday, 27 November.

Participants will be introduced to basic design-thinking principles, and the objective is to get them to adopt these principles in their STEM classrooms. Adopting a design-thinking approach to teaching and learning provides educators and students with a creative way to tackle real-world challenges, including the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

“The Design Thinking in STEM project aims to support schools and educators in South Africa with a holistic design-based approach to nurturing the creative potential in students, while preparing them for the challenges of the 21st century,” said Christine Niewöhner, the senior project manager of education at Siemens Stiftung.

Adding students’ voices to the classroom

The d-school founder, Richard Perez, said design thinking adds a human, team-based element to problem solving and will support educators to tick this box in their classroom.

Creating a Design Thinking in STEM classroom will be hugely beneficial. It will help teachers to ground abstract and overwhelming topics and make them tangible and engaging for their students. The concept will also add an element of students’ voices and unlock their creative potential in an impactful and collaborative way.

“This thinking approach helps students to break down complex, real-world problems and discover innovative solutions that address the needs and struggles of people,” said Perez. “This makes it a flexible tool for the classroom, [which] can be adapted to work in parallel with the STEM curriculum while encouraging thinking across subject streams for both students and teachers.”

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