Design challenges

A collection of design challenge resources for Design and Technology, suitable for preparing students for their contextual challenge or for developing skills in Key Stage 3.

Links and Resources

V&A Innovate National Schools Challenge

V&A Innovate is a challenge for schools that encourages students to use design thinking approaches and human-centered design methodology. Students are invited to choose from three contextual challenges, inspired by the V&A collections and exhibitions that ask critical questions about the issues shaping our world.

The challenges can be run at any time in the school year and is supported by a collection of videos, downloadable resources and a teacher’s toolkit.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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The James Dyson Foundation: Design and Technology challenges

This collection of resources challenges students to think about some of the key factors affecting life on Earth and encourages them to look for design solutions to issues that might seem, at first sight, too big to take on. Each challenge in this collection is presented as a 6 week learning resources, supporting students to think radically as designers and engineers through a process of conception, development, realisation and explanation.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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Techdoodles

TechDoodles are quick activities that can be used as starters, plenaries, homework, revision activities or as a focus for a whole lesson. They can be worked on by individual students or in teams. They can be self or peer assessed as the answers are in small type down the side of the page. The resources cover designing, fabrics, industrial practice, product analysis and selling to the consumer.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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Textiles themed design challenges

This resource provides mini challenges based on the designing process. With textiles as the core theme, students are set mini challenges that ask them to create design briefs, understand client needs, generate ideas, communicate their ideas and evaluate their ideas.

publication year
1990 - 1999

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Design Challenges in different material areas

A collection of mini design challenges, themed around different material areas.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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What is inclusive design?

This collection of classroom resources that look at the topic of inclusive design and how design can be used to solve problems and support all people in society to engage successfully in the world around them. This resource sets the scene for inclusive design, helping students to understand how products must fulfill a need for a range of users. Students learning and understanding is documented in a series of worksheet based activities which encourages deeper thinking and further development.

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Brompton Cycle Routes: Extended design challenges

The Brompton Cycle Route projects offer students experience of the design process from initial brief through market and product research, generating design ideas, modelling/trialling, production planning and evaluation. The activities are presented in the context of the Brompton Bicycle Company and offer opportunities to research a real company and its products and markets. This resource provides the overview and lesson plans for the project. The classroom resources for the project can be found below. There are five Cycle Routes which students could follow; the tasks and learning outcomes are the same in each but the specific challenges have been chosen to reflect the five strands of the design and technology curriculum.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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Brompton Bicycle: Key Stage 3 Resources

These activities have been developed to give students an opportunity to experience the kind of thinking that underpins innovation and project development at Brompton Bicycle. Each activity focuses on a different design characteristic and presents students with a brief requiring them to explore current design features and create proposals for new developments. As well as developing design solutions students are encouraged to consider the needs of different user groups and to reflect these differing needs in their design proposals.

Although the activities focus on the design process (responding creatively to a brief, applying knowledge of other designs, developing and communicating ideas and critically evaluating proposals), some could be extended to modelling or making, depending on the time and resources available and the particular objectives of the class.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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Key Stage Three Chooser Charts

These chooser charts, whist designed for key stage 3, may prove useful as a prompt for students when making design choices. This resource contains seventeen chooser charts, which help students make decisions about approaches to take for designing with a variety of materials.

publication year
1990 - 1999

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Creating sparks for energy

This resource challenges students to design a spectacular human-powered invention for creating the spark which lights the bio-fuel generator of a newly built state-of-the-art, eco-friendly house. The students need to produce a design for their invention and enough evidence to convince the judges that the device will work.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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Sports facilities for disabled people

In this challenge students are asked to produce a 10 minute presentation highlighting their research on the sports facilities available to disabled people now and their recommendations to increase disability sports that are available in their school and local area. Teams must show clearly how they arrived at their final results. All recommendations must be justified – these justifications should be made apparent throughout the presentation. They should think about how to communicate the information plainly.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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Squashed tomato STEM challenge

This Practical Action resource presents a fun hands-on and brains-on challenge for Key Stages Two to Five.

The problem: In Nepal many farmers living on the mountainside grow fruit and vegetables, including tomatoes. To earn a living they need to sell these at the local market. The problem is getting to market involves a long, dangerous walk down the mountain side and over a river, at the end of which the tomatoes may well be a bit squashed.

The challenge: To design, build and test a way of moving tomatoes that won't squash them!

publication year
2010 to 2019

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Stop the spread STEM challenge

Stop the spread is a new STEM challenge for students aged 7 to 16. Highlighting the global issue of infectious disease students design, build and test a model of a hand washing device and produce educational materials for children in Kenya to encourage hand washing.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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Reimagine a solution to a real-life problem

This challenge from BP asks students to create a solution to a real life problem in the world. The accompanying powerpoint takes students through the process of identifying a problem, working up ideas, testing ideas and creating a proposal. This resource would work as a good way of introducing students to the skill of problem finding, as it asks students to identify real life problems to solve, rather than providing a challenge for them to work on.

publication year
2010 to 2019

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Bionic Boy

This lesson plan  and classroom slides take inspiration from the Born to Engineer video from Ben Ryan, who is working to develop low-cost 3D-printed prosthetic limbs for young children and babies. Through discussion and practical activity, this resource supports students to increase their understanding of engineering through designing a prosthetic arm.

publication year
2020 to date

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