Design is used in most areas of life, so we can find many ways to enjoy the excitement of design thinking, to experience the satisfaction of solving a problem and achieving a practical goal. Since the beginning of human history, people have enjoyed the challenge of designing strategies for better living, and designing products to carry out these strategies more effectively. For example, strategies for getting food (by hunting and farming) were more effective when using products (spears and plows). Design continues to be useful in the modern world.
Science is also useful and fulfilling, in two ways:
First, the understanding gained by science is often used by designers. The technological results of “applied science” are familiar, especially for new products.
Second, science helps us fulfill a deep human need, because it is a productive way to search for answers when, inspired by our curiosity, we ask questions about “what, how, and why,” about the operation of causes-and-effects in nature. Most of us want to know the truth, so an intrinsically appealing goal is the design of scientific theories that are true, that correctly describe what is happening now and has happened in the past. In our search for truth in nature, we are motivated by curiosity about how things work, a desire to solve mysteries.
For example, The Joy of Science tells a fascinating mystery story. After scientist-detectives have discovered a simple answer for a puzzling question, one says "I am reading your paper in the way a curious child eagerly listens to the solution of a riddle with which he has struggled for a long time, and I rejoice over the beauties that my eye discovers," and the paper's writer responds by agreeing that "everything resolves itself with unbelievable simplicity and unbelievable beauty, everything turns out exactly as one would wish." They struggled with a question-problem, solved it, and were thrilled. Yes, it's fun to think and learn!
In design/science activities and in other ways, we can help students have their own moments of “aha” insight, when an idea (or a connection between previously independent ideas) suddenly becomes clear, and this personal insight lets them experience the joy of thinking-and-learning. Hopefully, our students will discover that thinking is fun, and they will want to do it more often and more skillfully!