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This paper explores the ways in which the design thinking (DT) approach can be utilized in addressing the challenges of STEM education in K-12 education. The study is based on an extensive literature review about STEM education and the DT approach, and exploratory research conducted to understand the challenges and needs of STEM education in Turkey. The findings from the exploratory research indicate that STEM education in Turkey has significant challenges: The teachers have difficulties in integrating diverse disciplines and technologies into their STEM activities; the training programs for teachers and the general education for students encourage a result-oriented mindset rather than a process-oriented approach; and the teachers have difficulties in following the problem-solving process based on the engineering design approach. Furthermore, collaboration among teachers for developing and implementing STEM activities needs to be addressed as an important issue in terms of scheduling. Additionally, there is a need to develop STEM activities appropriate to the educational level of students. Equipping teachers with skills and knowledge appropriate to their new roles as guides and mentors should also be considered as a significant issue concerning the implementation of STEM activities. The study concludes that the DT approach as an interdisciplinary, collaborative, and human-centered problem-solving process can support STEM education and resolve the stated challenges. This study also suggests that there is a need to develop a customized DT approach for teachers, non-designers, so that they can easily apply their expertise to STEM education.
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