Design Thinking

Sumner Academy doesn’t seek to create students who can simply memorize a lot of steps or follow a lot of directions.

A student using a hand saw to cut wood

Instead, we hope to cultivate critically-thinking, confident problem-solvers who can make life better for themselves and others. 

When students leave Sumner Academy, we hope they have a rich reserve of memories in which they overcame challenge, stretched their boundaries, and critically evaluated their own work -- even if that meant going “back to the drawing board” again and again. Students who haven’t merely been taught what to think, but how to think.


Imagine. Design. Explore. Articulate.

A upper elementary student working with styrofoam
Two young students stacking apples in the IDEA HUB
An elementary student using a 3D pen


The IDEA HUB at Sumner Academy is a place for all students to come and tinker, design solutions and original pieces of work, and to collaborate and build real-world skills for the 21st century. 

This interdisciplinary space is equipped with materials from basic crafting supplies to 3D printers that will allow for a diversity of intellectual pursuits and hands-on learning.

Our mission is to provide a space for creative innovation and exploration while empowering students to gain the skills necessary to solve real world problems today and in the future.

Students are encouraged to approach all challenges and projects with the I.D.E.A. method of thinking.


Sumner Academy Idea HUB logo, which is a brain within a light bulb within a gear

A Bright I.D.E.A.

In order to better prepare our students, we are introducing a new, non-linear way of solving problems called I.D.E.A., which is adapted from Design Thinking models. Rather than focusing on select subjects, this method of thinking can be applied all grade levels and in all content areas.     

At Sumner Academy students are challenged to develop their own ideas and solutions to classroom challenges and global initiatives. When working on a project, students are given the reigns to establish a goal, engage in their own form of investigation, and create a plan of how to get there. They engage heavily in the trial-and-error process. This is integral for students to learn how to engage in testing an idea, modifying that idea based on feedback, and trying again. Embracing failure as part of the growth process is an underlying theme in the IDEA HUB, and students are given the opportunity to explore and innovate. Being able to share and articulate their process and their work is emphasized as it builds integral communication skills that students will need.

Design Thinking Model


A table showing the parts of each step in the design thinking process