Kleberg IDEA Center

The Maker Mindset at Upland

The Process

In The IDEA Center empathy defines the questions and problems. Technology and engineering drive the solutions. Design thinking challenges students to learn from their models and mistakes. The curriculum is intentionally flexible, process-based and community-centered.  

Students from Pre-K to 9th grade learn to better understand the needs of their peers and their community at large while empowering them to be global citizens.  Students build solutions to problems using design prototypes of all kinds using technology and harness their fine and gross motor skills along the way.  Students will engage with a wide range of technology and tools from table saws and hammers to laser cutters and robotics.  In a world with complex problems, forward-thinking educators encourage students to ideate and prototype - continually redesigning and learning from previous errors or missteps.  Mistakes are simply an opportunity to learn, and repeated effort always leads to improvement.  Students learn to collaborate and build upon each other’s ideas, using all the information and knowledge at their disposal while designing their own unique solutions.  

The IDEA Center cultivates a community of thinkers, makers, and builders in a place of discovery, joy, and innovation.
Be sure to click on the TV within the virtual tour to hear a special message from Mr. Gallagher, the Director of Making and Doing.
Gather & Research:

Learning is better together. Find something you’re curious about.  What types of questions are you trying to answer? What problems are you trying to solve?  Are there particular roles and/or jobs that need to be accomplished?  What type of research needs to happen?  Brainstorm!  Develop empathy and an understanding of the needs of your user and the community you hope to serve.  Every problem comes in the context of a complex story and it’s the job of the designer to empathize with that story.  

Design & Build:

Use the research and understanding to create something that attempts to solve the issue at hand!  Build a model or representation of your team’s learning.  Use a wide array of technology to prototypes, creating multiple iterations of your design as you continually gather feedback on the effectiveness of the solution.  Develop new skills in the woodshop or at the sewing machines.  Discover the possibilities of 3D design platforms, robotics and laser cutting.  However, the tools don’t make the Maker - your ability to engage in the design thinking process will help you grow as a scientist, an engineer, an artist and a citizen.  


Present your learning and design to the world in a deliberate form or fashion.  This is your opportunity to gather feedback on your current design and learn how to improve upon it during its next iteration.  Using all the various tools of communication, it’s paramount that students share their projects and solutions with the user(s) and community.  This will help determine the effectiveness of the solution and allow the designer to apply new knowledge to the next design.