Finding Opportunity:

Building on close observations and explorations of complexity to see the potential for building, tinkering, re/designing, or hacking objects and systems.


Finding opportunity invites learners to realize their potential as designers of their world.

Informed through careful and repeated observations and aware of the complexities of the designed world, students can seek occasions to design, build or make on their own or with others.


Careful measuring of a piece of leather by two students from East Bay School for Boys.



Kite makers from Andrew Carle’s class at Flint Hill School make adjustments just prior to a test flight.


Wild ideas and pragmatic constraints can be addressed through brainstorming all of the possibilities. Brainstorming provides a chance for gathering ideas from the group and for individual reflection.

Materials exploration can lead to new ideas. Learners may determine that they need instruction with new tools in order to bring their designs to light.



A student at East Bay School for Boys making adjustments as he works at the forge with guidance from his teacher.

The thinking routine, Imagine if… poses some design considerations to revisit early prototypes and weigh in on qualities like aesthetics and ethics, among others.



Objects created by students at East Bay School for Boys

Sometimes you don’t have to look very far. Opportunities for redesign are plentiful on the school campus. Two essays from the Making Thinking Happen blog share the stories of Thi Bui’s students at Oakland International High School and the redesign ideas envisioned with architect David Stephen.


In this picture of practice essay, educators Ilya Pratt and Jeanine Harmon share a community “Design + Build” project. Fourth and fifth grade students from North Oakland Charter School and Park Day School find an opportunity to work together to build T-Stools for classrooms.



As learners find more and more opportunities to tinker, build, design, refine and remix, the established practices of looking closely and exploring complexity will become woven into the process.

Looking Closely Exploring Complexity Finding Opportunity