Design Thinking for Gift Giving
Project Plan Materials
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Creative Commons License
Design Thinking for Gift Giving by Beth White, Courtney Bryant and Reggie O’Neill, 2016 Allen Distinguished Educators is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Project Overview

Students take on the role of an industrial engineer and learn about designing a product for a certain type of customer. They will go through all of the steps of James Dyson’s design process. The goal is to design a gift that other students would want to buy for one of their adult family members. Students will choose two final designs to move into production and will also create marketing materials for selling the product at school or another appropriate venue. 

Beth White, Courtney Bryant and Reggie O’Neill

- Grades PK-8 -
School: Charles R. Drew Charter School

Type of School: Public – Charter

Location: Atlanta, GA

School Population: 1,313

Demographic: 89% minority students

% Free/reduced lunch program: 59%

- Grades 9-12 -
School: Charles R. Drew High School

Type of School: Public – Charter

Location: Atlanta, GA

School Population: 1,555

Demographic: 98% minority students

% Free/reduced lunch program: 100%

Learning Outcomes

This project integrates engineering design, business, art, English/language arts, and 21st century skills and meets learning standards in language arts, engineering, technology, and applications of science from K – 12th grade. Students will be able to conduct observational research, create sketches and a prototype of their design, present their product to the class, and market their product to their school community.

Download the open-source Project Plan Materials to view a complete list of standards and learning outcomes addressed in this project.

How Beth, Courtney and Reggie Did It

Grade: K-12th

Timing: Five 35-minute class periods

Subjects: engineering and design, business, art; English, 21st century skills

Materials: Batteries, LEDs, wire, aluminum foil, paperclips, flexible foam, tissue paper, foam board, paper and pencils, art supplies, construction paper, poster board, hot glue, scissors, tape, filament, pens, safety pins, various recyclables, computers

Project Steps: Beth, Courtney and Reggie implement this project in five stages following an initial one hour preparation. The stages include: Brief and Research, Research and Consumer Interviews, Idea Development and Selection,Prototyping, and Production.

How You Can Do It

Grade: K-12th

Timing: 1-4 weeks (divided in the five project steps in a way that compliments your school bell schedule)

Subjects: engineering and design, business, art, English, 21st century skills, social studies

Materials: The electronic supplies such as LEDs, wire, filament, and batteries etc. are recommended, however, you can use any art and construction materials that are available and familiar to you and your students. Additional materials can include cardboard, tape, and recycled materials etc. Optional tools can also enhance this project such as a 3D printer or laser cutter.

Project Steps: Depending on your students’ familiarity with the design process, engineering, and marketing, they may need additional time or instruction to support one or more of the project steps. Additionally, your students may be interested in designing a product for a different purpose or audience rather than parents/guardians at the school.
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Comments (6)
Darshell Silva
7/13/2017 4:56:06 PM

Teacher from East Greenwich, RI
Hi, I am a Librarian and Tech Integration Specialist at a Pre-12 independent school. This year I implemented this project with my 6th & 7th graders. I adapted the forms and adapted a STEAM hyperdoc for this project. I then conducted "Shark Tank" (copyright ABC television) type panels with teachers and administrators at the school as the panel judges to determine the winning gift that would be produced. The students worked in teams of 3-4 to design, prototype and present. Students loved this project! The panel presentations were a hit with students and judges alike. I recommend this project to anyone looking to implement an innovative design thinking project!

Jenny Burns
8/25/2016 11:00:19 AM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
Hi Mark,

Thanks for joining the discussion. Not only would it be OK to modify this project to include a 3D printer, you are encouraged to do so! Teachers are welcome to adapt DIY Guides and projects to suit the unique needs of their students, schools, and classroom environments. The project plan materials are open-source and available for you to download and use with your FLL team. I'm curious to know more about the product ideas you have in mind to benefit animals.

Thank you for your interest in a DIY Guide grant from the Allen Distinguished Educators program. If your teacher/coach hasn’t already applied, please note that the application deadline is Sept. 5 at 11:59 p.m. PT. Visit to learn more about grant eligibility.

- Jenny

Mark Gullickson
8/24/2016 6:31:53 PM

Teacher from Albany, OR

We are a First LEGO League (FLL) team from Albany, Oregon. We have read all the information regarding the Design Thinking for Gift Giving project. We would like to know if it would be OK to modify our possible project to include using a 3-D printer we have in our classroom; we received a 3-D printer grant last year. We would like to use this great project guideline to help develop our product that will benefit animals, such as cats and birds. We have a few great ideas in mind that we would like to create. Our teacher/coach would be the person completing the grant application. If we were to receive the Allen Distinguished Educators grant, this project would impact a total of approximately 38 students (26 3rd graders and 12 4th graders). Thank you for your help.

Jenny Burns
7/22/2016 3:52:30 PM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
Hi Patricia, thanks for your interest in this project.

Design Thinking for Gift Giving does not need to be done with high school students and elementary students only. I think it could work well for your third graders in your pre-k through 5th grade school. Although, if you are interested, it might be fun to team up with a middle school or high school in your community. Regarding project materials, you are also welcome and encouraged to use additional or different materials than the ones included in the project plan. I'm curious to know more about the project adaptations you have in mind.

Patricia Andreolas
7/22/2016 3:40:55 PM

Teacher from Queens Village, NY
Does this project have to be done with high school students and elementary school students? Also do you have to use only the materials included? I'm a third grade teacher but my school is a pre-k - 5 school .

Jenny Burns
6/30/2016 12:40:26 PM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
How can teachers adapt this project to fit their own classrooms? Does anyone have suggestions or recommendations?

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