The shape of things to come

3rd August 2012 at 01:00
A bold design project is encouraging pupils to rethink their school's needs. Elizabeth Buie reports

Teachers from East Ayrshire's nine secondaries will launch "Interaction" next term, a design project for pupils to identify the specific needs of their school, then design and construct built structures or objects.

The idea came from David Ross, a local architect and design director with Keppie, a firm of architects, interior designers and planners. The project builds on the success of the council's Business Enterprise Fund, which was designed to make school-leavers better prepared for work by developing entrepreneurial skills and attitudes.

Third-years will undertake the project and be mentored by S5-6 pupils. Glasgow School of Art students will work with them, and at least one design student will be assigned to each East Ayrshire secondary.

Central to the proposal is a problem-based learning philosophy which will see youngsters collaborating with local businesses and other partners, such as Kilmarnock College and Glasgow School of Art.

The process will be facilitated by the Glasgow consultancy Stone Opera, which specialises in connecting people with their built environment and landscape. It also works with the University of Glasgow's widening participation group.

There may be an inter-school competitive element too, with prizes for best structure, best business plan and best idea.

"Schools participating in the project will be asked to design, construct and locate a movable structure from which to sell a product for a period of a month at the end of the process," says Mr Ross.

"This should involve a number of departments in the school working on the problem simultaneously. We would hope that the art, craft, technical, business and IT departments would form the core of the teams for this exercise".

PROJECT OUTLINES

St Joseph's Academy

To promote healthy eating and the food and drink sector in Ayrshire. Working with the Braehead Foods and Cook School, St Joseph's envisages a "Cook School to Go".

Loudoun Academy

Loudoun wants to promote the garden groups in the school and investigate sustainability via links with the Fair Trade Group.

Stewarton Academy

To promote the school's "Dragons' Den" initiative. The project will be the skills development portion of the Duke of Edinburgh's award scheme.

Grange Academy

To produce a multi-purpose structure which could function as a performance space, a unit to promote design products made in the school and a "catwalk" entrance for the artfashion department end-of-year show.

Kilmarnock Academy

The starting point will be a two-pronged enterprise initiative built around the Bloodhound Challenge national competition, which involves the design and making of a prototype racing car.

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