I challenged our Year 5 pupils to design a Christmas biscuit. Then I asked a local bakery, TO Williams of Wem, a proper family business that has been around for years, to judge the competition and bake the winning biscuit at their factory, package it up professionally and sell it in their shop.
We carried out a survey of biscuits already on sale at the bakers, assessing them in terms of taste and texture - fun, but fattening. This made the children realised that how the biscuit looked played an important part in whether or not they wanted to eat it.
I showed the class how to make a basic biscuit mix, then they were free to add their own ingredients and to shape and decorate the biscuit as they wanted. We worked in the school kitchens, with the school cook supervising, and it was a good opportunity for everyone to learn about health and safety, and to see how a big kitchen operates.
There was cross-curricular work too, in literacy, with pupils writing out recipes and instructions for how to make their biscuit and coming up with advertising slogans.
In the end, the baker chose one of the simplest designs. And perhaps that was the most important lesson of all. Younger children often complicate things but the bakery wanted something that looked tempting and was easy to produce. It just goes to show that good design is about keeping it simple.
Dave Kennard teaches design and technology at St Peter's C of E School, Wem, near Shrewsbury, Shropshire.