Design Curriculum

Oak Park Middle Schools has implemented the Project Lead The Way (PLTW) program, which features a project-based curriculum designed to challenge and engage the natural curiosity and imagination of middle school students. Throughout the three-year curriculum, students acquire knowledge and skills in problem solving, teamwork and innovation as well as explore STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) careers. Students will take one trimester of design at each grade level to fulfill the Design requirement of IB.

Designing requires an individual to be imaginative and creative, while having a substantial knowledge base of important factors that will aid or constrain the process. Through this sequence of courses students will be exposed to Computer Aided Design, Coding, and Circuitry. All of the design courses will prepare our students for the 21st century. Students will walk away with an understanding that designers must adopt an approach that allows them to think creatively, while conforming to the requirements of a design specification.

Course Sequence:

Students will rotate out of the scheduled Integrated Studies Class for 1 trimester to take the assigned design course. Course sequence is as follows:

  • 6th Grade: Design and Modeling
  • 7th Grade: Automation and Robotics
  • 8th Grade: Electronics

Course Descriptions:

  • Design and Modeling: In this class, students will use the design process to solve problems and understand the influence that creative and innovative design has on our lives. Students are using Autodesk Inventor, a 3D modeling software, to create a virtual image of their designs and produce a portfolio to showcase their creative solutions.
  • Automation and Robotics: In this class, students will learn about gears and mechanisms and then work to write a computer program using the RobotC coding language. Students are challenged to solve problems by building with VEX robotics kits and wiring the machines to their computer program. Students will be engaged with a wide variety of projects, such as making an automated sign, stop lights, swing bridges and a robotic arm.
  • Electronics: In this class, students explore electricity, the behavior and parts of atoms, and sensing devices through hands-on projects. Students will obtain knowledge and skills in basic circuitry design, and examine the impact of electricity on the world around them.

IB Design Course Objectives:

The Design curriculum is designed to challenge students to apply practical and creative thinking skills to solve design problems. Each design class places emphasis on:

  1. Inquiry and Analysis: Students are presented with a design situation, from which a problem is identified and a solution derived. Students will analyze the need for a solution and conduct an inquiry into the nature of the problem.
  2. Developing Ideas: Students write a detailed specification, which drives the development of a solution.
  3. Creating the Solution: Students plan the creation of the chosen solution and follow the plan to create a prototype sufficient for testing and evaluation.
  4. Evaluating the Solution: Students design tests to evaluate the solution, carry out those tests and objectively evaluate its success. Students identify areas where the solution could be improved and explain how the solution will impact on the client or target audience.

Design Staff

  • Adrienne Court
  • Steve Olson
  • Chris Pros
  • Brian Shinners
  • Tim Walsh

Presentation Links