Design Thinking Process

Design a toy or gadget for someone your age who is moving to Mars.

Use design thinking to help you:


TIP: click on each planet to explore the design thinking process and complete the Challenge!






Image of robot with a rocket


Understand and Care

Learn about who you are helping

You are designing a toy or gadget for someone your age who is moving to Mars.

What would it be like to move to Mars? How will it be different from living on Earth, and how will it be the same?

Here’s some information that could help you. Feel free to do your own research.

Watch this video from former NASA astronaut Pamela Melroy to learn about what it’s really like to be in outer-space.

Use books, internet, films and other sources of information to find out some interesting facts about Mars.

Here are a few to get you started:

Skies are pink and sunsets are blue 

The opposite of skies on Earth

You can jump twice as high

And stay up in the sky for 2 seconds

One year = 687 days

When would you celebrate your birthday?

It’s expensive to take things there

It costs anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars just to take 1 kilogram of stuff up there

It can get very cold

Parts of Mars get down as low as minus 125 degrees C

The soil is red

And contains toxic chemicals

There is no air

95% carbon dioxide and no oxygen in the atmosphere

It has the highest mountain in our Solar System

Olympus Mons is 2.5 times higher than Mount Everest

Image of robot with a rocket


Make a plan

The best designers figure out the exact problem they are trying to solve for the person they are designing for. To do this, think about the things this person might like and how those things would work on Mars.

What does this person like?

  • Does this person enjoy a sport?
  • Do they like to cook?
  • Do they like reading?
  • Do they like pets?
  • Will they miss their friends and family when they go to Mars?
  • Anything else you can think of…?

What will it be like for them in space / on Mars?

The ‘Understand and Care’ step will have given you some great ideas. You might want to create something that:

  • Does not take up much room
  • Has more than one purpose
  • Works well with less gravity
  • Anything else you can think of…?

Now ask a question using both ideas to help you create your design.

How might I design a toy or a gadget for someone my age that helps them [with something they like – eg. to cook] that [is good for space / Mars – eg. that does not take up much room]?

    Image of robot with a rocket

    STEP 3

    Have lots of ideas

    Now you know the problem you will try to solve when designing the toy or gadget.

    It’s time to come up with lots of ideas – this is also called ‘brainstorming’.

    There are no right or wrong ideas when you are brainstorming.

    The only rule is that there are no rules!

    Let’s have a go…

    Write on a piece of paper / draw / doodle / use a whiteboard / record the ideas in whatever way works for you.

    Stop when you have lots of ideas. Look at them all and decide which is your favourite. A good way to find your top 3 ideas is to ask:

    • What idea will probably work?
    • What idea is so crazy it might just work?
    • What idea are you most excited about inventing?

    You could discuss your ideas with others to help you decide which of your ideas you would most like to make.

    Image of robot with a rocket

    STEP 4

    Make it

    Remember your favourite idea? Now you are going to make something that shows others what your idea is, what it looks like and how it works. This is also called a ‘prototype’.

    When designing there are so many different ways you can create a prototype.

    For Space to Dream, there are two ways to show the Commissioner your prototype.



    Choose your favourite way! Follow the steps below:

    Create Design Using Free 3D Design Tools

    1. Download the free version of Makers Empire.

    2. Sign up to Makers Empire or login if you already have an account:

    – Think of a username – nothing that could identify you.
    – Think of a password – nothing anyone could easily guess.

    3. Write down your username. Keep it in a safe place as you will need it again when you submit your design.

    (TIP: you may find it helpful to use a ‘MAKE IT! Design Sheet to keep a record of your username and details of your design – it will be helpful when you finish the Challenge and are completing the Challenge Completion Form. However, there is no requirement to complete a ‘MAKE IT! Design Sheet for those creating their design with Makers Empire.)

    4. Once you are logged in, select the ‘Shaper’ tool.

    5. Create your design in 3D – use the Pro tips to get the best result! Allow plenty of time to create your design with the Makers Empire online tools.

    6. Click ‘Finish‘. When you save your design you need to include the wording ‘SPACE TO DREAM’ in the title. It is important that you remember this step as this is how the Commissioner will be able to find your design when it comes time to look at the designs submitted via Makers Empire.

    Draw Your Design

    1. Draw your design onto the ‘MAKE IT!’ Design Sheet.

    2. Draw with black or other dark pen (as it will show up best when you are later asked to upload a scan of your design).

    3. Feel free to use colour to bring your design to life.

    4. You may wish to use labels if that helps you explain your design and how it works.

    5. The ‘MAKE IT!’ Design Sheet also asks you to write down a name for your design and to describe how it works. You will be asked to provide this information when you submit your online Challenge Completion Form when you have completed the Challenge.

    Image of robot with a rocket

    STEP 5

    Can you make it better?

    Do other people your age like your design or are there ways to make it even better?

    Does this feedback make your design even better?

    If you used Makers Empire – you can go back and edit your design via the ‘My Designs’ tab on the Makers Empire software. 

    If you drew your design – you may wish to complete a new ‘MAKE IT!’ Design Sheet if you decide to make a lot of changes.

    Once you have made any changes and have decided you are happy with your design, you are ready to submit your design using the Challenge Completion Form.

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    Design Thinking Outside Schools (Design Thinking) Outside Schools – Design Thinking Process