Giving pupils the responsiblity for a real design produced some astonishing results, reports David Hayles
For this key stage 3 project, our aim was to come up with some temporary seating for a museum or art gallery.
I got the pupils to look at a collection of related objects - including folding mechanisms, such as ironing boards, clothes horses and pop-up books. Similarly, they chose the most appropriate way to generate, develop and communicate their ideas. So a pupil can start by modelling ideas, sketching or finding further information.
We wanted to see more creativity and risk-taking. At the same time, we wanted to help them develop a greater appreciation of the visual elements of design; to only undertake relevant research; to experiment and test proposals, materials and constructions; to reflect on their own work and that of others and to collaborate.
We provided prompts in case the pupils got stuck, such as what could they do to make the seat more decorative when it was folded, or how to make it easier to carry, and they noted their progress. They created models for different stages, which culminated in a full-size prototype. We designed the recording sheets so that the pupils could work in a spontaneous way.
The project ran over two days, and the pupils said they could make better progress over a longer period.
Motivation and application was exceptional, as was enthusiasm and effort - the only way to get pupils to leave was to turn the power off.
David Hayles is an Advanced Skills Teacher in design and technology at Saltash Community School, Cornwall.