11The foundation of the Design Thinking mindset involves creating “human-centric” solutions to problems. This process incorporates 5 phases: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test to create individualized solutions. Though the phases do not necessarily follow a pattern. However, the end goal of this process is to acquire a deeper understanding of the product and the user, and ultimately create a product that will cater to the needs of the user. Throughout this process, the focus remains on understanding who that they are going to help, why they are creating solutions, and how their design will make that person’s life better.
Figure 5: The Five Phases of Design ThinkingAdapted from Interaction Design Foundation
The first phase is empathizing, which gives the researcher an opportunity to set their assumptions aside, understand the problem someone is facing, and think from the point of view of the person who they are trying to help. For example, during this process, students will work in pairs, conduct interviews, listen attentively about the problems their classmate is facing, understand the emotions and gain insight about their needs. This is the information collection/background research phase. During the next phase, the researcher will define the problem that they identified from the empathizing phase. This phase will give students an opportunity to not only identify the problems and needs of the classmate they interviewed but also create “human-centered” problem statements that they are going to investigate. The third phase is ideating. During this phase, the students will rely on the information that they gathered from the first two phases, challenge their own assumptions, come up with several “outside the box and radical”, solutions to the problem statements that they created. During the fourth stage, the researcher creates prototypes of the best possible solutions to the problems that they identified. The main goal of this rapid prototyping is to create several versions of solutions using inexpensive and easy to acquire materials. During this phase, the students could use easily acquired materials such as paper, pencils, crayons, flashcards, pipe cleaners, beads, foil, and other inexpensive materials. The prototypes are replicas of the solutions that they are planning to create and could include the potential features that are in the final product. Finally, Lastly, the prototypes thus created are put to test, meaning they are shared with the customers for whom they have been created and obtain their feedback. This is a crucial but iterative phase where the prototypes thus created undergo several changes and modifications to ensure that they are addressing the problems they were designed for.
In summary, Design Thinking includes 5 phases: empathize, design, ideate, prototype, and test. Design Thinking is a process that could be used to design “human-centered” solutions to an individual’s problems. Through this process, students will be able to learn the importance of empathy, sharpen their listening skills, think out of the box, work collaboratively, create prototypes, accept failure, and design individualized solutions. In conclusion, this unit covers the importance of vaccinations, the crucial role of the immune system and how it protects us from infections and keeps us healthy, and lastly how the Design Thinking mindset could be used to help students design human-centered solution to real-world problems.