Design education in grades K-12 has been very limited in years past. There are very few schools that focus on design at the high school level and even fewer who introduce design education at the elementary and middle level. Beyond Design, Inc. (a product development firm in Chicago) is implementing a new program called dig-8 at Nettelhorst School. Dig-8, which stands for Discover, Innovate, and Grow, is designed to teach children about new product development and entrepreneurship in a relevant engaging, and unique way.

The dig-8 program will teach the 8th grade students about all aspects of product development, from research, brainstorming, and industrial design, to understanding manufacturing principles, sales, and marketing. Students will work in team throughout the four month program and develop solutions to an assigned problem through solution to parents, faculty and peers. A panel of judges will vote for the team with the best solution and our hope is that this solution will be manufactured and sold on the market. Any profits made will go back into the school system to fund this program in the years to come.

The goal is to educate young students and show them how to take their ideas and turn them into viable product solutions that can be marketed and sold to consumers.

With help from student volunteers at Northwestern University, local businesses, and the trust and open-mindedness of Nettelhorst faculty and parents, dig-8 will make an impact on kid’s lives and allow them to realize their potential early-on. Our hope is that once this program is proven at Nettelhorst, we can implement it in other grades, as well as additional schools in Chicago and nationwide.


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