STEAM Design Thinking & Innovation

  • STEAM Design Thinking & Innovation is a transdisciplinary course that is listed on our students’ transcripts as “STEAM DTI.” STEAM DTI is an 85-minute, two period, two-semester course.  The course is offered for honors mathematics credit to any senior interested in an academically challenging, experientially based learning environment.  STEAM DTI is an NCAA Approved Core course.  This program is a unique college preparatory experience that engages students in applying Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics through the lens of design thinking.   

    STEAM DTI was developed through a collaborative partnership with Northwestern University’s Segal Design Institute and Office of STEM Education Partnerships. The course is modeled after Northwestern’s Design Thinking and Communication Course, which is a required course sequence for all incoming Northwestern freshmen engineering students. STEAM DTI brings this college course experience to our high school seniors in order to prepare them for the collaborative, project based, interdisciplinary learning environment that they will encounter at the collegiate level. STEAM DTI includes best practices from the university learning environment as well as input and mentorship from the community. Students in STEAM DTI engage with and are mentored by Evanston and Chicago area entrepreneurs, technology startups, research scientists, leading edge engineers, visual and performing artists, data scientists, and analysts. Throughout the course, the students engage in problem solving from a variety of perspectives, collaborate with diverse teams, and engage in creative and linear analytical thinking.  The course emphasizes collaboration, creativity, communication, critical thinking, curiosity and empathy.

    First semester, students work on a variety of problem-based learning challenges. In working through these challenges,  student teams engage in problem solving processes that are discipline specific and recognized as best practices in academia and industry.  These processes include: Science: Scientific Method, with specific attention to the Next Generation Science Standards’ (NGSS) Science and Engineering Practices; Technology: Agile Development Process and Scrum Project Management; Engineering: User-Centered Design Thinking; Art: Experimentation, Iteration, and Critique; Math: Computational Thinking, Statistical Analysis, Data Analytics, and Data Visualization. Students also engage in activities that foster development of creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration skills.

    During first semester, students work in collaborative teams to conduct research and engage in design thinking.  They are supported by community leaders, university researchers, and industry professionals as they explore complex topics in global and local contexts. During the second semester student teams define a problem in the community, outline and implement a full iterative research and design cycle with expert mentors and community advisors. This second semester project allows student teams to articulate and apply a variety of problem solving approaches and directly utilize the cognitive and metacognitive skills developed during the first semester. 

    The curriculum design team at Evanston Township High School and Northwestern University firmly believe that this course provides a challenging and innovative college preparatory learning experience for the STEAM DTI students.