Andrew Davidson

Summer 2019

HCD charrette for K-12 outreach @ the Library

Students in an Charette

For the past few years, we have been using a design activity known as a charrette as a way to introduce students to the human centered design (HCD) process. In the "HCD 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. We have run these participatory workshops with students at various educational levels, from middle school to graduate programs, and with K-12 teachers. This summer we are excited to partner with the Seattle Public Library to bring this program to students in communities all over the city.

A fast-paced, hands-on activity that gives a good first-hand overview of the entire field, the HCD Charrette allows students to experience the thrill of design, while raising questions about its practice, setting the stage for further study. It is adaptable to many different application areas and levels of expertise and interest.

We firmly believe that participatory activities such as this HCD Charrette are far more effective as outreach and recruiting for HCDE than traditional college information sessions. Our long-term goal is to use the HCD Charrette for broad outreach and recruiting in the K-12 environment. We also intend to evaluate this program and practice, and to expand its reach.

In a dub talk (July 5, 2017), “Filling the Pipeline: Design & Engineering Workshops for K-12 Outreach,” we summarized various HCDE outreach efforts. In this more recent keynote talk at Interaction 19 (February 4, 2019), we talked about the current outreach work: Filling the Pipeline: K-12 Outreach in Human Centered Design. Further information about the HCDE K-12 Outreach program may be found here:

In this summer DRG, we will continue to broaden our outreach efforts for human-centered design in the Seattle youth community. UW student teams will facilitate an HCD Charrette in local branches of the Seattle Public Library system all over the city. UW students will meet with librarians to understand their patrons and environment. Curricula and materials for the HCD Charrette exist and students adapt these materials, customizing them for specific workshop needs. Charrette teams will visit local libraries and lead students in the workshop. They will assess the results of the workshops and prepare a report on their findings. We will use these findings to further develop the HCD Charrette protocol.

We are looking for dedicated and enthusiastic students to participate in this summer project. Eligible students should be familiar with the User Centered Design process, and have already taken HCDE 210, 318, or 518; or INFO 360; or IMT 540. Experience working with, teaching, or mentoring young students is a plus.

The DRG will meet on Wednesdays, from 4–5:30 p.m. and students must commit to participating in at least 4 charrettes held at Seattle Public Libraries or other off-campus locations during the day. All participants are expected to register for 2 credits.

To apply, please submit your resume and a letter explaining your interest and qualifications for the project here:

The deadline for applications is Monday, May 27. We will notify all applicants of our decisions by May 31.


Questions? Please contact:

  • Andrew Davidson <>, HCDE faculty, K-12 Outreach director
  • Jessica Carr <>, HCDE MS student, K-12 Outreach coordinator

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