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K-12 Outreach

The University of Washington's Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering regularly works with regional K-12 schools on activities designed to engage pre-college students and their teachers in the field of human-centered design.

Our outreach activities include conducting user-centered design workshops in high school and middle school classrooms, hosting students for workshops on the University of Washington campus, and professional development for teachers. Dr. Arpita, Assistant Teaching Professor in HCDE, leads this effort.

If you are interested in learning more, contact HCDE Outreach at

Ongoing outreach efforts

UCD Charettes

For the past few years, HCDE has been using a design thinking activity known as a Charette as a way to introduce students to the user-centered design (UCD) process. In the "UCD Charrette," students are given a particular design space to explore (such as user interfaces for a website, mobile app, or a physical device). In a very short period of time (two hours or less), working in small groups, they brainstorm user needs, develop use-case scenarios, and create interaction designs for an application. HCDE has run these participatory workshops with students at various educational levels, middle school, high school, and with K-12 teachers. We have found that K-12 students respond to this activity favorably, not just for the style and content of the workshop (“I designed an app!”), but also for the chance to have natural interactions with college students, who can be wonderful ambassadors and mentors.

Engineering Discovery Days

Every April, elementary through high school students explore interactive exhibits, hands-on activities, and UW labs. High school students and families learn about admissions, financial aid, engineering programs, and university life.

Alternative Spring Break

In partnership with the University of Washington's Pipeline Project, HCDE organizes students to participate in an Alternative Spring Break experience, bringing Human Centered Design & Engineering workshops to rural communities in Washington state. View a video about the inaugural HCDE Alternative Spring Break.

HCDE outreach videos


HCDE outreach articles

Human-Centered Design Charettes for K-12 Outreach, article by Elena Agapie and Andrew Davidson, Interactions

The State of K–12 HCDE Outreach in the Design Charrette Program, article by 2020 HCDE K-12 Outreach Research Team



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