Solving Library Problems with Design Thinking: 3D Printing Braille Signage


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Each year I push 4th grade students to use the design thinking process to create a lasting and meaningful contribution to their library. In past years, we’ve used graphic design to create new signage that’s more accessible to young readers, and interviewed kindergarteners to create systems to help them find the books that they love. The design thinking process was even the inspiration behind our color coded floor signs and Dewey IMG_8448Decimal rugs! Learn more about the design thinking process and the way that we’ve incorporated it into library lessons here.

This year, 4th grade Design Thinkers want to create Braille signage to make our nonfiction section more accessible. Last week we tested Braille signage already up around the School, and chose the words and phrases we want to feature in our nonfiction section. We browsed tools available to 3D print Braille, and Ms. Wilkens printed prototypes using tools from TouchSee and Thingiverse. Seeing big ideas turn into a digital file and then into something physical that we can hold in our hands is so exciting – and even more exciting when we know that our signage might help someone to find a book that they love or feel more comfortable in the library. I love watching how solving real-world problems deepens my students’ passion and buy-in. Plus, because the IMG_5944design thinking process is rooted in empathy, students are learning about computer science, math, art, and collaboration, all while leading with their hearts and working to make the world a better place.

Seeing our prototypes was exciting, but we’re still got a long way to go! We’ve designed the size, color, and shape of our signs, and Ms. Wilkens and I will print them this week (with 10 signs taking about two hours each, the printing process takes too long to complete together during class). Once our signs are printed, we’ll work together to make them as neat and legible as possible, and then determine the best location for them, and how we’ll attach them in a way that’s safe and practical. I can’t wait to see how these projects turn out!

Update: Our projects are now complete! Check out the finished products here: 3D Printed Braille Signage has Arrived!

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