Design Thinking

Design Thinking is a methodology used to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions. A design mindset is not problem-focused, it’s solution focused and action oriented. Design Thinking draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be—and to create desired outcomes.

The programmes below give students the opportunity to flex their design thinking muscles...



This programme utilises the 6 simple machine types, challenging students to think creatively as they design, construct and test their own Super machine using combinations of levers, pulleys, gears, inclined planes, wheels & axles and screws made from everyday materials. Students will work in small collaborative groups to individual sections, which are then connected to create a Super machine curated by the whole class. This programme is a fun way to get your whole class working collaboratively and testing their communication skills to achieve the ultimate goal – a single successful run through all 10 sections of the Super machine.

“Our students loved being able to see physics in action and several begged to be allowed to come back next year to see if they could improve on their design. I have never seen them so focused and motivated.”

- Yr 12 teacher, Onehunga High School.

"WOW. What a fantastic day we had. The activity was exceptional. I saw children who are usually very quiet and reserved really come out of their shell and speak up because they saw how the machine could be modified. Opening our eyes to problem solving, trialling our design, making changes and being resilient. Honestly, this programme was amazing for my children!
- Yr 3/4 teacher, Waterlea Public School.


The Life Hack! Steam cell takes your students through an innovation journey. Students start by exploring examples of Kiwi ingenuity in MOTAT’s Education collection, these examples vividly illustrate New Zealand’s history of innovation and invention and show how simple innovations can make a big impact. Students will be challenged to solve a product design problem, identifying ways the product can be made better fit-for-purpose. Choosing their most promising solution they will make a prototype and engage in user-acceptance testing to get feedback on how to make it even better. A prototyping guide can be used by teachers to support students through a personalised process when they work to find a solution to their own identified problem. Engaging in an authentic personally identified problem encourages students to take control of their process and maintain an active role in their learning.



Digital gaming offers rich opportunities for students to develop competency in design-thinking, critical-thinking, and computational-thinking. The design process will begin with students critiquing 2D arcade style games from the global arcade, they use game play to identify the underlying game mechanics and critical thinking to analyse what makes a game fun, challenging and engaging. Armed with their developing insight students draw upon their imagination to create their own unique 3 level game, designing their own glyphs and creating a game world. Following the game creation stage there is the opportunity to play and critique each other’s games and even publish their creation to the global arcade where it will be played by gamers from all over the world.

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