ice cream verb \ˌīs-ˈkrēm, ˈīs-ˌ\ : to Savor moments & Cherish your taste buds
reinventing ice cream Online Course 2020-21
We are excited to introduce our "reinventing ice cream" workshop in the form of an asynchronous online course. There has been a lot of debate and discussion as to how and even if we should offer this workshop as an online course. The process of design thinking + project-based learning requires highly interactive conversations that would be absent in an asynchronous online format. To alleviate that, we have introduced an ambitious and funny character that works with the teacher and the learners through an engaging adventure. We have also incorporated swapping roles. That means there are times that learners will take on the role of teaching and the educator will become the learner. The combination of these four elements (design thinking, project-based learning, the third character, and swapped roles) has enabled us to create a one of a kind online learning journey for our young audience.
image copyright © Yunias/reinventingicecream.com
What learners are going to learn in this course
During this online course, children will work on challenging problems in math, geometry, science, and design that have been integrated into different scenarios. To cut a long story short, learners will:
- Create new flavors and shapes of ice cream for cows as well as serving models
- Build an ice cream business for cows and an ice cream school
- Design ice cream-related structures (e.g. ice cream stand, ice cream truck, ice cream shop) for cows
Just like our workshops, this course was created based on the combination of design thinking and project-based learning, hence our stress on asking questions and doing research. We have implemented a simplified version of the design thinking process (adopted from the Darden School of Business design thinking model) that includes three steps:
- What is
- What if
- What works
What we heavily emphasize is the fact that there is no one right answer/solution. This is especially true when it comes to design. And we have expanded this concept to math and geometry as well (e.g. how many ways you can cut a rectangle into two equal parts? or how many ways you can make seven with three numbers?).
Two activities are missing in the online format:
Instead of group brainstorming, we have implemented the concept of thinking in new boxes. Put it simply, during the what-if phase, we introduce one or two radical ideas to ignite their imagination and to eliminate the fear of being criticized/ridiculed. This will give the learners the courage to think in new boxes to generate new ideas on their own. At this phase, we don't want them to think about whether their ideas are practical or not. We want them just to come up with new ideas.
Thinking in new boxes is more effective than brainstorming. Usually, during group brainstorming, a handful of kids come up with new ideas and the rest of the class just builds upon those few ideas. That means not everybody actively involves in the process of brainstorming. So the online version provides an equal opportunity in generating new ideas.
During the what-works phase, we go back to all those ideas to see which one(s) we should implement based on the cows' feedbacks and this is when we consider the practicality of our ideas. In our workshops, we usually use pieces of cardboard and other materials to build a prototype. For the ice cream itself, we bring an ice cream machine to the workshop. However, this is not doable for an online course. We ask learners to draw their prototypes in details on a paper or an App and to include their notes about how it works and how the cows should operate it or use it. We do not ask them to build a 3-dimensional model. As for the ice cream flavors for the cows, we bring children's attention to the fact that those flavors are for the cows to test and to like/dislike. The educator and the cows are in contact with children by sending notes and comments to them when needed.
How learners are going to learn in this course
The reinventing ice cream online course has been designed with a spiral model in mind. And the best way to explain it is through an example. Suppose we have the following exercises in one of the seasons, say season 5:
- math-1, math-2, math-3
- sci-1, sci-2, sci-3
- design-1, design-3
We begin with level 1 exercises at the start, that is when we are close to the center of the spiral. Level 1 is usually used for introducing new challenges at a simple level. Then we present math-2, sci-2 as we progress through each season (move away from the center). And finally, level 3 exercises are the ones that usually take longer for learners to solve them. As it is depicted in the image, these exercises are spread throughout the season.
Through implementing this model we achieve two main goals:
- Enforcing effective repetition of concepts which helps children to learn better and retain it for longer, and
- Blending the exercises in the context of the story to maintain a sense of purpose while keeping it fun.
We move slow and steady.