by Simona Dwass
Simona Dwass is a Makerspace Education Specialist with a background in product design. She is passionate about the benefits of hands-on learning and physical creation in the classroom.
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Activity Summary
Curious about our 4D (Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver) model for technology and engineering design? Read about why we selected this framework and how it can be implemented in your classroom!
Learn about the 4D model

Prototyping is one of the most important strategies that you can use while designing a solution to a real problem. Prototyping is important because it helps you use your senses to develop your idea further! When you can see, feel, hold, and interact with your idea in real life, you’re instantly inspired on how to make it better. The best part of prototyping is that there are no rules!

Prototyping is similar to making a model of your idea. Whatever helps you communicate your idea is a successful prototype. There are lots of different types of prototypes! You might already be familiar with Looks-Like Prototypes: these are the ones that are the right shape, size, and color. Looks-Like Prototypes help communicate the design and aesthetic decisions you made for your product.

01. When you have an idea, start by sketching it out. Use different colors, include details, or add labels to make your idea clear. Is it easier to share your idea now that you have a drawing to help you explain it? 02. Now it’s time to get 3D. Make a model in order to help you explain your idea. Don’t worry, your model doesn’t need to be the right size, the right color, the right material, or explain everything about your idea. A prototype is for helping explain the details. Sometimes you even want to make more than one prototype to show off different parts of the idea! 03. Get creative with your materials. You can use any craft materials you have at home to make your prototype. But you can also use office supplies, things you find in the recycling bin, or natural materials!

Imagine This!

This cardboard ukulele is a great example of a prototype! A real ukulele would be made out of wood or plastic, but making this model allowed us to understand how the depth of the instrument impacts the sound that it makes.

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