At-Home Learning From the National Building Museum, Week 1: What Is Design?

Categories: Articles

Find more great educational lessons and ideas here on our website (under the At-Home Learning tab). And be sure to follow the National Building Museum education team on social media: Facebook / Instagram

How do designers approach and solve challenges? We talked with several D.C.-area engineers to learn about how they work. Before you watch the three videos shown below, download this activity PDF and try your hand at a design challenge with things lying around your house.

(1) WSP worked on the National Museum of African American History and Culture:

(2) SK+A worked on the Spy Museum:

(3) Cannon Design talks about how the firm works as a team.


For a more in-depth exploration of engineering, you can watch these prerecorded sessions of our Why Engineering? distance-learning program.

Use this reflection activity to think about how the process you went through to make a prototype match up with the steps of the design process.

Want to explore the steps of the design process more? You can try the Marshmallow Challenge to see how tall a tower you can build with simple materials. Or watch Simone Giertz’s TED talk about why she likes to design and build “useless things.”

If you have young children under the age of 5, here are some are some ways to try the design process with them.

Next week’s activity will focus on getting out into your neighborhood to better understand what’s happening in it.

Week 2: Understanding Your Neighborhood
Week 3: Identifying Neighborhood Challenges
Week 4: How Would You Change Your Neighborhood?