The City X Project Design Thinking Workshop

The Mayor of City X

The Mayor of City X

Welcome to City X.

The story of City X is one of adventure, possibility, and invention. In the not-so-distant future, Earth has sent a group of travelers to create a colony on a distant planet. Upon their arrival these Citizens began to build their inaugural city, City X. But as time has gone on, they’ve started to identify common challenges and social problems that affect all of the Citizens, and stand in the way of building a thriving city.

To help them solve these problems, they are enlisting the help of Earth’s young inventors. 40 Citizens of City X have sent home transmissions detailing the social problems with which they need help. Their problems relate to health, safety, communication, transportation, and more. It’s up to your students to help solve these problems, by learning about the Citizens, getting to know their challenges, brainstorming solutions, and ultimately designing inventions that the Citizens of City X can build using the 3D printers they’ve brought with them.

Play the Mayor of City X’s transmission to the designers of earth below.

Our workshop uses story-based learning about humans settling a new planet.

The Characters

One of the Citizens of City X

There are 40 citizens in City X who have sent requests for help to the designers back on Earth. Each student is assigned a citizen to help and, over the course of their six-hour design thinking workshop, will use the Stanford design process to create inventions to solve the Citizens’ problems.

The workshop begins with an introduction to 3D modeling and printing and how these technologies are being used today. The kids then learn that it’s up to them to solve their citizen’s problem with the two tools at their disposal: a 3D printer and their imaginations.

The Design Process

Facilitators then introduce an adapted, kid-ified version of the Stanford‘s design process as a five-step framework for coming up with these inventions.
Our design thinking workshop uses the Stanford design process



Kids are introduced to the word empathy, discuss examples of empathy, and then share their citizens’ problems and how those citizens might be feeling. Emotion words are used to describe how each kid’s City X character might be feeling because of the problem they are facing.

Kids Empathize with Their Character



Facilitators discuss the difference between personal problems and social issues, guiding the students to answer the question: “My character needs me to solve a problem about…” in which they must determine which of eight major world issues align with their characters’ problems.

Kids Must Define Their Problem



Brainstorming! The group learns four basic rules of brainstorming, while facilitators encourage students to write and draw as many solutions as possible with only two constraints: the invention cannot be something that already exists, and ideas must come from the kids themselves; no feeding ideas from adults!

Kids Brainstorm

Prototype and Test

Prototype & Test

Facilitators begin by asking kids to describe prototyping and discuss the importance of the cycle of testing iterations of an idea. Each student then receives a chunk of clay and is asked to create a model of his or her favorite idea from the Ideate stage. As the students build, the workshop facilitators serve as testers by walking around the room and asking kids questions about their inventions.

Kids Prototype with Clay



Kids are asked how they could share their clay creations with someone else. Other than taking a picture, they’re often stumped. Students then learn how new technologies like 3D modeling and printing enable people to collaborate and share designs instantly all over the world.

Get the new book, Journey to City X: Adventures in Engineering for Kids, coming out May 26! |Pre-order now!