Kids practice design thinking with FLEx and photography | Home And Family

Kids in Iowa are learning and practicing 21st century design thinking skills, thanks to an Iowa State University partnership.

The College of Design, the College of Engineering and ISU Extension and Outreach 4-H Youth Development are engaging young Iowans with design and STEM—science, technology, engineering and math. Kids have all kinds of opportunities to imagine themselves as designers and scientists, and explore careers.

Case in point: 55 middle schoolers from Louisa, Des Moines, Henry and Lee counties took part in a FLEx and photography workshop at the Iowa State campus this past fall.

FLEx stands for Forward Learning Experience. It’s a mobile learning program for advanced design technology aimed at youth in grades 3 through 12 and beyond, said Pete Evans, who coordinates the FLEx outreach program. FLEx combines STEM with design thinking and 21st century skills, and includes things such as virtual visualization, digital to real prototyping, circuit bending and visual programming.

During the FLEx portion of the workshop, the middle schoolers experienced an interactive virtual reality station, with Oculus Rift virtual reality and 3D printing and electronic prototyping. Afterward, the students worked individually on iPads to develop their own designs with 3D modeling software. Several of their designs were uploaded to the…

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