design and problem solving

Design and Problem Solving

Students with a visual impairment produce a design for a product.


To enable students with visual impairments to understand the design process and produce a design for a product meant to solve a specific problem

Background Information:

All great inventions used science and technology to solve a problem. For example, the microwave oven saves time in the cooking process; airplanes can bring us long distances faster. On a daily basis we experience product design.

The students will apply the problem solving process to design a product.


These will vary depending on the product selected. In the example given in the article, and shown in the accompanying photos, LEGOS™ and WikkiStix™ are used.


In the design process, students are frequently asked to draw pictures of their ideas. There are many alternate ways for a student who can not draw to create models and prototypes. For example, outlines can be created using WikkiStix™. Models can be creates of clay or a variety of building tools such as LEGOS™ or Constructo Straws™ Students will benefit from examining a diagram of the design process.


  1. Identify one problem that could be solved with a tool or invention. A possible invention might be a specialized test tube holder.
    • Test tube holders are usually racks for holding several test tubes. Imagine a holder is needed for one large test tube in a special experiment.
  2. Write a problem statement. What is the issue that needs to be solved?
  3. Brainstorm to find a possible solution to the problem you identified.
  4. Select 2 or 3 potential solutions that answer your problem statement. What are the benefits and shortcomings of each design?
  5. Select one design you think is the best. Can the shortcoming of the design be eliminated? How can the design be improved? Make any necessary adjustments to refine your idea.
  6. Create a drawing or a rough model of your idea that will show how your solution will work.
  7. Write a short statement, including the initial problem statement and the explanation of the solution.

NGSS Standards:

ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems

ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions

ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution


Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for Science and Technology/Engineering, October 2006, pages 80 -84.

Pierce, Alan J. and Dennis Karwatka. Introduction to Technology, Glencoe / McGraw-Hill, 2005, pages 172 – 191.

This activity was adapted by Yoo Jin Chung and Kate Fraser.


collage of design and problem solving activity

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