Episode 56: Getting Unstuck - Study Guide for High School Many of us feel stuck at one point or another: in the wrong city, the wrong path. Self help gurus have offered lots of advice — but here's a new idea, from the tech world.

Episode 56: Getting Unstuck - Study Guide for High School

Are you feeling stuck? Renee Klahr hide caption

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Renee Klahr

Are you feeling stuck?

Renee Klahr

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Many people feel stuck. They struggle to make changes to their lives or to figure out what life they want to lead. It turns out that engineers and designers often face similar challenges when it comes to designing new products. How do you build something when you don't know what to build? Engineers and designers often take an approach called "design thinking." Design thinking is about recognizing what limits you, realizing there isn't just one answer, and then trying something.

Dave Evans used to work in Silicon Valley. He realized that design thinking could help people figure out their lives. Many of his students come to him saying they don't know what to do with their lives. They want to find the "right" answer. He tells them, "There is more than one you in there."

Study Guide Questions

1. Dave Evans describes the process of designing the mouse for apple computers. Describe each of these steps.

  • Problem finding
  • Problem solving

2.What is a prototype? What is prototyping?

3. How is prototyping like a psychological tool?

4. According to Dave Evans, what two types of problems are there? What do each of these mean? What are examples of each of them?

5. What is a problem you have? Is it a tame problem or a wicked problem

6. Why, according to Dave, are wicked problems particularly good for design thinking?

7. What is a gravity problem?

8. What is another example of a gravity problem?

9. Define the difference between a problem and a circumstance.

10. Dave suggests that people write down three different paths their lives could take. What does Dave find when he has people write these paths down? Does he find that people are more or less satisfied with their decisions? Do you find this surprising? Why?

11. What is beta testing?

12. What does Christine mean when she says, 'With design thinking, your goal is to fail early and often?'

  • What do you think of this sentiment?

13. After she told people she was a housewife, what question did Helen often get asked?

14. How did this inspire her Twitter account?

15. How did Twitter help Helen get unstuck?

16. Why was the instant feedback of Twitter helpful for Helen?

17. Helen describes the work she does inside the home as art. What are some other things that you consider art but which may not always get credit as art?


Pick three paths you might choose to follow after high school. Write down each of these options and why you chose them. Write for a few minutes about each of these different subjects. What do you think you would like about that path? What do you think you would dislike about that path?

Brainstorm as a class or in groups about how you could prototype each of these options.