Design Thinking Lesson 5 of 7: Test

Length of Project:
Project theme:
Suitable for grades:
Tools & Materials
Material List
  • Design Thinking Template and notes from Lessons 1-4
Tool list
  • pencil
  • ruler and/or tape measure
  • various measuring tools as needed
  • Optional

  • computer or tablet with word processor and sketching app

    Before you begin

  1. Note to teachers: depending on the design challenge, the testing phase may be very quick, or might take more preparation. If students need to take their prototypes away and interview the end user / client for feedback, then use this lesson to help students prepare question forms that they can use. You may need to spend another class session getting them to review the feedback and making changes to their plan.
  2. Rewrite the following six steps on the board if necessary: Step 1 Empathize, Step 2 Define, Step 3 Ideate, Step 4 Prototype, Step 5 Test, Step 6 Make, Step 7 Share and Reflect.
  3. Opening activity for testing

  4. If students have an aversion to the word “test”, get them to help you make a big list on the board of all the different things you can test! It’s not just about assessing your spelling or your math skills, it can be about testing water samples from a puddle to see what kinds of algae are living there, testing the sound on a mic before a concert, or testing the temperature of food before you give it to a child.
  5. Ask them what they think “testing” means: why would someone want to test something? What exactly are they looking for? Is the test itself specific to the thing being assessed? Get them to the point where they understand that the tests often attempt to determine if the thing being tested works, or is within a reasonable range. They may also discover that testing sometimes requires a measuring tool, such as a ruler or thermometer.
  6. As a class, flip back to the “success determinants” and “parameters” from Lesson 2: Define. List them on the board, then have students come up with ways to test for each success determinant (and name any tools they may need to do so). For example, if they were designing and making a birdhouse customized for a Screech Owl, one of their parameters may have been that the door hole was circular and 2.5” in diameter.
  7. If students were working with a “client” or end user in their design process, they may need to design a slightly different testing scenario, where they present the prototype to the end user for feedback, checking to see which parts of the prototype might need to be redesigned.
  8. On their own, or in pairs, have students make notes about the parts of the prototype’s materials, tools, or procedure that they want to change based on their test results or feedback. Encourage them to make changes to the project based on their own aesthetic observations and preferences as well.
  9. Depending on the type of design challenge, rebuild and retest the prototypes as necessary until they are ready for the final build.
  10. Closing activity

  11. Students could give a show-and-tell style presentation to the class or in small groups, giving students a chance for peer evaluation as well as an opportunity to share suggestions to improve the projects.
Extension Challenges
  1. Have students photograph or video their testing phases. Often, depending on the tests being done, the prototypes fall apart spectacularly, which could make for a fantastic “blooper reel” if you feel your students would have a sense of humour about it.
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