Best Practices

Design Thinking

In October 2013, Ellis was named one of the leading K-12 schools utilizing design thinking by the K12 Lab Network of the Institute of Design at Stanford University. This makes Ellis one of the first 50 schools in the country named to the list and the first independent school in our region to be recognized. Stanford created this site to track the global design thinking movement in education and to help parents and teachers connect to outstanding K-12 design thinking programs.

Teachers at Ellis are using design thinking methods to encourage girls to understand, define, and address real problems affecting people’s lives. Students lead the research and analysis and their R&D process may include reading, conducting interviews, observation, and other methods that encourage creativity and critical thinking at a much deeper level than listening to lectures and taking notes. The girls then interpret their findings and articulate problems, opportunities, or concerns that emerge from their research.

They then engage in ideation, where they prototype possible solutions. Prototypes might be objects made on the School’s 3D printer, architectural models like those made by the second grade for the Metropolitan Community project, and multimedia solutions such as videos or Twitter feeds like those the ninth grade are creating for their Voice & Vision class exploring the politics and science of clean water. Prototypes are then exposed to experimentation and critique. Girls then evolve and change their designs to reflect the outcomes of experimentation. They are encouraged to understand that iteration is in no way failure but a process meant to bring the best solution forward.

At Ellis, girls are engineers, scientists, artists, programmers, and collaborators from the earliest ages. They are exposed to coursework, experiential learning, and faculty expertise that prime them for the complex and dynamic world that awaits them after they graduate from Ellis.

Ellis Girls and Design Thinking