Introductory Lesson: Design Thinking and Big IDEAS

Note to learners: Complete this full lesson if this is your first Big IDEAS course or if you’d like a refresher. You are not required to upload any assignments if you have completed this lesson before, but you still must pass the Check Your Understanding at the end of the lesson to move on to the next lesson.


  • You will explore the design thinking process and describe how it is used to create new products and solve problems.
  • You will describe the activity and purpose of each step in the Big IDEAS framework.
  • You will provide an example for each step of the Big IDEAS framework.

Time to Complete

40 to 45 minutes


  1. What do you think of when you think of “Design Thinking”?
  2. Think about the words “DESIGN” and “THINKING” separately and then the two words together.
  • As you think about it, use your Notes to organize your thoughts. Start by making two lists, label one “DESIGN” and the other “THINKING.”
  • Add descriptive words that come to mind when you think about each word.
  • Then, print your lists and draw lines to make connections between related words. For example, maybe you used “art” in the Design list and “sketch” with the Thinking list. Those could connect. Don’t worry about being right or wrong, just get your ideas down on paper. When complete, scan or take a picture of your final web and upload it using the button at the bottom of this page.

Let’s Get Started

Big IDEAS is a set of steps that you will be using to practice design thinking to solve a problem facing your community. This Big IDEAS video will give you more information about how the process works and how it can help you reach your goals.

Let’s Get to Work

  1. After watching the video, use the Big IDEAS Framework PDF to identify each of the steps in the Big IDEAS process.  Write about which types of activities you might do during each step. Remember that the ultimate goal of this course is to develop a “product” that will help to solve a problem in your community. The product can be a presentation, a suggestion for a new process or method, a public service announcement, a plan for how to help certain groups of community members, or any other idea you develop as you are working to solve a community challenge.
  1. If working collaboratively, you will be divided into groups. You can communicate with your classmates over Zoom, Skype, email, text, or any distance learning collaboration tool your school has adopted. If you are working independently, share your ideas from the Big IDEAS Framework PDF with someone at home.

Let’s Wrap Up

Take a look at the Big IDEAS process again.


In your Notes, name the stage of the Big IDEAS process you think you will enjoy most and explain why in a sentence or two.

First, be sure to upload your photograph to Assignments directly below. Then, complete the final Big IDEAS matching activity.