Seventh grade Farnsworth Middle School students in Ms. Schauer’s art class had the opportunity to design their ideal sneaker and have their prototypes reviewed by Jesse Handelman, an industrial designer employed by a major athletic footwear manufacturer.
Ms. Schauer tasked her students with creating a shoe they would want to purchase or wear, inspired by their personal interests and style. Using forms such as cylinders, cones, spheres and freeform solids, students designed their shoes in Tinkercad, an online computer-aided design (CAD) program which gives users the ability to create and print 3D objects. After 3D printing the prototypes, students added color with paint.
During Mr. Handelman’s classroom visit, he spoke to students about his education, background and early career path. He shared photos of the corporate campus where his office is located and discussed some of the perks offered by his employer, including access to running trails, gyms and basketball courts and, of course, free athletic shoes. He also gave the students an overview of the steps, from inception to market, that it takes to design, test, produce and sell an athletic shoe.
Mr. Handelman explained how he utilizes a range of tools, including software programs, for various aspects of design. Some programs are akin to Tinkercad, which Ms. Schauer’s class used for this project. Likening design to problem solving, Mr. Handelman took students through some of the steps of the design process, such as creating mood boards for inspiration. He encourages the students to find inspiration wherever they can; he often looks to nature and described taking a high resolution photo of tree bark. By adjusting the contrast, the resulting image was the inspiration for the texture of an athletic shoe.
While reviewing the students’ 3D prototypes, Mr. Handelman explained when they created their designs by combining shapes, the students applied mathematical principles such as Boolean functions. Industrial design is a prime example of math and art coming together to create shapes and patterns. The students had the opportunity to provide Mr. Handelman with the thinking behind their designs — where they found their inspiration, what need the shoe fills and the function it performs.
Mr. Handelman’s presentation, feedback and recommendations may prompt these FMS students to pursue future careers which combine math and art.
View the prototypes of the students’ shoe designs