Primary students work creatively and innovatively, using various materials in exploring design principles and techniques.
Stepping into the recently launched Design classes for younger students, one finds the workshop space buzzing with the sound of saws, sandpaper on wood, and discussions concerning project plans. In various sessions, Grade 2 pupils are busy creating toys; Grade 3 classmates are crafting musical instruments.
Early in the process, the children could brainstorm and peruse materials for inspiration, such as a book containing an encyclopaedic collection of musical instruments from many eras and regions of the world. Each student has a tablet for researching digital media, and journals are kept for notation, reflecting and ideating.
Observation forms are used for detailing and evaluating their designs. A section on the form asks youngsters to draw an outline of the musical instrument. The form includes product design questions regarding, eg Aesthetics - texture, shape; Materials - made of what and how was it made? How-to-use/function; Size; Cost; and of course, Environment, are to be noted. The children analyse whether their work consists of environmentally friendly materials and if it would have a long lifespan.
Students become familiarised with the proper handling of tools, wear work gloves and safety goggles when required. The small saws are used with supervision and the more sizeable tools are one-on-one teacher assisted.
The youngsters sketch outlines on sheets of cardboard, recycled paper, or cardstock; cutting, folding, manipulating the materials to fit the desired shape. Pieces of lumber are available for use, too. Students mark sections for sawing, and holes can be drilled where needed. A glue gun is used not only for assembling purposes but in adding surface lamination on, eg a pan flute, to protect one’s mouth when playing, a pupil mentions.
Before the conclusion of the school term, an array of creative inventions has taken form – several guitars, a goblet drum, lutes, a model mini alphorn. When asked what the best part of the musical instrument project was, many of the Grade 3 classmates responded, “designing it”.
Grade 2 students were actively building their own toys (for gift giving, most exclaimed) and during the process, could explore design fundamentals and learn more about recycled or sustainable materials. Likely some of these creations will be found under Christmas trees this holiday season.