Capstone Project: Discovery

Objectives and Overview

As you’ve now completed all the skill modules from Maker Foundations it’s time to begin the Capstone Project for the semester! This will be something that you’ll have time to work on during the remaining weeks leading up to the showcase.

Lesson Objectives

  • Review the capstone project prompt
  • Start thinking about project ideas
  • Create a document and write down at least 2 two potential ideas
  • Select one idea that you want to move forward with

Project Prompt

The prompt for the capstone project is straight forward: create a project using at least two skill areas from Maker Foundations. Your project should draw largely from these skills: Graphic Design, Game Development with Scratch, 3D Printing, and Circuitry. Web Development skills contribute to your portfolio and writing but aren’t considered as a major skill area for the final project.

Tips and Best Practices

One of the most important things to consider for your project is the scope. It’s better to plan something that’s smaller scale and then build from there once you make some progress. Remember a crucial part of design and making is the willingness to accept and integrate feedback. Keep this in mind when receiving any suggestions from peers and program staff!

The Discovery Phase

Discovery is the first step in the design process. This is the phase where you think about what types of things are possible and explore several different ideas. Part of exploring ideas is identifying what problem you want to solve with your design or project. Asking questions (even if they’re to yourself) is an effective way to define the problem you want to solve.

At first, it may seem like the time spent in this phase is wasted compared to diving right in and designing or making your project. As you work on more projects, you’ll start to notice that you end up being far more efficient when you spend time in this phase. Jonathan, DHF’s lead product designer, notes that projects where he spends more time identifying problems in the discovery phase end up being far smoother and more productive.

Asking Questions

Designs and projects are smoother when you know what problem you’re solving. For the capstone project, you know that one part of the problem is that you need to respond to the project prompt. You can use the prompt as a starting point and ask yourself questions to narrow your focus and explore different ideas.

Let’s dive into the discovery phase with an activity. Create a new Google Doc and name it something like “Your Name – Capstone Project Discovery.” In this document, let’s start answering some questions:

  • What skill modules did I like most during Maker Foundations?
  • What am I most excited about making?
  • Is there a skill I want to explore more than what I was able to during the modules?
  • Do I want to extend a project I worked on during this semester?
  • Is there a problem that I want to solve that I can connect to Maker Foundations?

Using your answers to the questions in the previous activity, identify at least two potential project ideas. These can be similar ideas or completely different!

Selecting One Project Idea

The next step is to select one idea that you want to move forward with. If you’re having trouble picking, ask your peers or the program staff for some feedback! Also, in the same document, consider identifying the pros and cons of each idea.

By the end of this phase, you should have one idea for what you want to do for the capstone project. Once you have your idea, you’re ready for the next phase!