Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Science 2.0

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Science 2.0

Article excerpt

Help Students Become Innovative Designers

Our past three columns described how teachers can implement the first three Empowered Learner Standards ( established by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). This month, we focus on classroom strategies to support the fourth standard: Innovative Designer.

The performance indicators in the Innovative Designer standard align with the practices of scientific inquiry, which help students conduct scientific investigations. Students become innovative designers once they meet these performance indicators:

* know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems;

* select and use digital tools to plan and manage a design process that considers design constraints and calculated risks;

* develop, test, and refine prototypes as part of a cyclical design process; and

* exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance, and the capacity to work with open-ended problems (ISTE 2016). (italics added)

It's worth noting that only the second performance indicator, where students plan and manage the design process, actually requires using technology. For this indicator, digital mapping tools (e.g., Lucidchart, MindMap) work well.

Defining innovation

Innovation implies that students must come up with something new or original and is often associated with great improvements to the way of life. This is a paradigm that science teachers must shift.

Accomplishments by companies such as Tesla or Apple are the exception, not the norm, and may only serve as a form of inspiration. Teachers should encourage students to be motivated by their successes and learn from their practices, but we must establish a classroom culture and norms that allow students to experience innovation in their own right.

Simplifying innovation

Tony Wagner, author of Creating Innovators (, makes the compelling argument that innovation is really just the act of creative problem solving. …

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