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K-12 Design Education

Kids Build16 091

Every year over one weekend, more than 700 kids and their families use the design process to build a city at KidsBuild!

Photo by Mike Lawrie

We are closing an education gap. The next generation of leaders will benefit by acquiring design skills today. Our youth education programs use fun activities to teach kids how to evaluate and synthesize information, how to collaborate, and how to use creative problem-solving techniques when confronted with real-world dilemmas. We believe these skills make kids competitive at school and in the workforce and are not now readily available to those who are exposed only to baseline K-12 curriculum.

K-12 Design Education programs of the BSA Foundation continue the legacy of Learning By Design in Massachusetts, founded by the BSA in 1999.

We offer many ways for kids and their families to discover how to use the power of design to make their communities safer, stronger, and fairer.

10:30 am–12:30 pm
BSA Space (290 Congress Street, Boston)

Family Design Days encourage children and adults to observe, explore, and design together. In these two-hour hands-on workshops, families are introduced to architecture and design through exhibition tours, walking tours, or slide shows, and then complete a hands-on design activity. Architects and Design Educators lead the activities focused on the built environment of Boston and the world. Family Design Days take place one Saturday a month at BSA Space (unless otherwise noted) and are designed for children ages five to 13 years old, accompanied by an adult—a maximum ratio of 3 children per 1 adult will be required. Registration is strongly recommended.

Family Design Days inspire children and families through design thinking and hands-on building. Where else can kids go to explore and formulate ideas about their communities, architecture, and design while building bridges, green buildings, and even—during a special session called KidsBuild!—an entire city from the ground up.

10:00 am–4:30 pm
BSA Space (290 Congress Street, Boston)

Student Design Days are two-hour workshops for Grade 3-8 groups visiting BSA Space on Atlantic Wharf. Programs enable students to work with professional architects on real-world design projects. Programs begin with an exhibition tour, neighborhood walk, or interactive slide presentation and end with a hands-on design project for student teams. For Grades 3-8, maximum of 25 students per visit. Contact [email protected] to arrange a visit.

Grades K-8 students visit BSA Space for hands-on design activities. Summer STEAM is supported in part by a K-8 Learning By Design grant, a program developed by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and funded by the Armstrong World Industries (AWI) Foundation. In these workshops, led by professional Architects, students will apply academic content to real-world problems facing the city of Boston.


We Design Together is an innovative partnership with Boston Public Schools. The goals of the program include: raising awareness and appreciation of architecture and design to children who may have never heard of it; allowing architects to teach their unique skill sets (design thinking and collaboration); and assisting the BPS with meeting its goal of introducing students at an early age to community members representing multiple life opportunities. By creating a curriculum for kindergarten students, We Design Together serves students who may otherwise not have the opportunity for a design education experience, nor work with or hear from an architect.

Lead supporters of K12 Design Education through the Provoking Change Legacy Circle membership:

Cummings FoundationCummings Foundation

HMFH Architects


For past events and news, visit the K-12 Design Education Archive.

News on K-12 Design Education