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Examples of how educators add the IK pattern to various activities

This page has examples for adding the Improvement Kata pattern to different activities, from educators for educators.
Suggestion: Run the KiC-1 & 2 exercises once as designed, to introduce
the four steps of the Improvement Kata. Then overlay the basic four step pattern onto other student activities, projects and assignments during
the school year. Applying the same meta pattern to different content is
an excellent way to develop scientific-thinking skill and mindset!

Have examples to share? Email them to: Photos are helpful.

Typical Progression:

EXAMPLES of educators using the Improvement Kata:

Share how you use the four-step Improvement Kata pattern.

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The Playing Cards Version (can be run remotely)

This version of the KiC exercise uses a regular deck of playing cards instead of the puzzles. It can be run with remote teams via Skype, Zoom, etc. All you need is the following two files: and

Tower Building

A primary-school teacher reports: "Building towers of paper and other materials worked superbly with the Improvement Kata. Objective: The tower should be as high and stable as possible. The working procedure and documenting of experimenting cycles followed the Improvement Kata pattern. I notice my students now more easily getting into an experimenting mindset, due to having practiced and gotten familiar with the Improvement Kata pattern in previous activities."

Designing Rafts

By Jasmin Rengers-Gerritsen & David Bogaerts. "Today we are going to do something which you might not do very often at school. We are going to build rafts. But not just that. We are going to build rafts in the way scientists would do so: by doing as many experiments as possible." Instructions for this exercise are at:

Mr. Potato Head

Why yes, some teachers do run the KiC exercise with building Mr. Potato Head. You can use the same PowerPoint slides (modified) and four Improvement Kata steps as the puzzle version.

Making a Hovercraft

A teacher in Michigan has her students build a hovercraft that carries a student on board. It takes several iterations to arrive at a working hovercraft, which the teacher has the students handle with the Improvement Kata pattern.

Improvement Kata and the 3D Printer

A 5th Grade teacher in Traverse City, Michigan practices the 4-step Improvement Kata pattern in conjunction with the classroom's new 3D printer. She asks each student (1) what is their challenge, i.e., what the student would like to be able to make with the 3D printer. Then she asks the student (2) how much experience they have with 3D printing. The next question (3) is what the student would like to make next, on the way to their challenge goal. This might be a simple shape, for example. Then (4) the experiments can begin.

Flip Your Classroom

The day before you run the KiC exercise in your classroom, ask the students to watch the following 30-second video: When you start the exercise, ask the students to name the four steps of the Improvement Kata as in the video ("One Cee, Two Cee, Tee Cee, Test!").

Leave the '4 Steps' IK Poster on the Classroom Wall and Keep Referring to It

FedEx Office will print the poster in 2 foot x 3 foot size for about $5.-  ('KiC Poster.pptx' on the download page). After you run the KiC exercise, leave the poster on the wall and refer to it with other activities. Applying the same 4-step pattern to different activities is a great skill-building technique.

Improvement Kata and TED Videos

A teacher shows her class one TED video per week and then discusses it. She has already run the KiC exercise and has the IK poster on the wall. After each TED video she points at the poster and asks the class:

(1) What challenge did the presenter have?

(2) Where was the presenter when they started their journey?

(3) What was one of the presenter's goals. What obstacles did they face?

(4) What were some of the experiments that the presenter did in trying to reach their goal?

Have Parents Do the KiC Exercise Too (they'll love it)

A teacher in Germany has been running the KiC exercise in her class for several semesters. Now each semester she invites her students' parents to a parents-only running of the KiC exercise, and then asks the parents to reinforce the 4-step scientific Improvement Kata pattern at home.

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Photos from Classrooms


7th Grade

KiC Training for

a Robotics Team

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