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Design Projects

Design Projects

Description of Lesson: In a typical design project, the students create an original design that is then presented either directly to the instructor or to the student body. In some advanced cases, non-disclosure statement may also be used.

Appropriate Content Areas: Art and Design, Architecture, Advertising, some industrial arts, Fashion, but may be applicable to other areas.

arrow button Building Bridges, by Thirteen Ed Online, - Additional design lessons found at
arrow button NASA Quest Challenges,

Goals & Objectives:

Generally, the goal of a design project is for the students to apply existing knowledge to the creation of an artifact. Typical objectives might include:

During and after designing an artifact as specified in the activity instructions, students will...

  • demonstrate knowledge of principle x...,
  • increase mastery of knowledge x through active application...,
  • solve a mechanical problem by fashioning a mechanical solution..., determined by successfully attending to 80% of rubric items.


Background design knowledge in some cases.

Materials and Resources:

Instructor provides the assignment descriptions. In some cases such as industrial design, advanced computer equipment and machinery may be needed.

Students may need materials for the completion of the design.

Guiding Questions for this Lesson:

How well can the student perform in context x? How original and intelligent will student designs of type x be in context y?

Lesson Outline and Procedure:

The lesson outline will vary somewhat by the curriculum. In general, the students are given the purpose and the directions for making their design. They are then given the time and in some cases the necessary machinery to carry out the task. It may be done individually or in a group. The final design is submitted in some fashion to the instructor. The final assessment can include peer review as well.

Teaching Strategies:

  • Be specific where possible in the instructions to avoid student questions during the assignment and to make cheating difficult due to a need to fulfill specific requirements.
  • Change the design requirements from year to year to both keep it current and avoid academic honesty issues.


What accommodations may be needed for students with disabilities or other special needs? As some design projects require using advanced machinery, there may need to be accommodations for the usage of such equipment by those with physical disabilities.


The timeline will vary by the activity. Some may take only a few hours, while others may last an entire term.

Ideas for Lesson Evaluation and Teacher Reflection:

How did the students like the lesson? End of semester evaluations should ask about the usefulness and learning accomplished through such activities. Also, the conversation that occurs during the activity will help guage how the students are enjoying various aspects and whether they are learning and/or participating.

How was student learning verified? Participation can be assessed through instructor contact with the student's local mentor if appropriate. A summative assessment should be performed on the final design. Using a rubric can help provide some objective measurement, although most design elements will have some subjective valuation.

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