5 years in Primary school Design Tech

Five years ago I was working on project based learning approached with a class of 8 year olds. They researched and built Stuart houses based on our work on the great fire of London, sourcing their own materials and identifying the construction methods to suit (try cutting a piece of decking with a junior hacksaw… we decided to find an alternative).

A reminder of the project is still on our old class blog here.

School projects tend to live a life well beyond the students, and often even the teachers. The Stuart house project was etched into the inherited curriculum planning of the school many years before I arrived, and today I was reminded by a teacher new to the school since I left that it lives on… although it has evolved somewhat.

No more do the pupils have to contend with the best way to cut through decking with the tools available from a primary school woodwork kit. These days they are more likely to be adjusting filament sizes and optimum nozzle heat settings…

In 5 years we’ve gone from woodwork to 3D printing of computer designed replicas of Tudor houses. The new incarnation of Robin Hood Year 4 have blogged about their work here.

I let their teacher know about the blog of the old project, and no doubt they are comparing the different construction methods and marveling out how much technology has moved on in what seems a short time to me, but over half their lives for them.

Despite being the same project in many ways, the learning here is clearly now quite different. Whereas my class had the challenge of cutting wood so that the angles fitted together well enough to stand up, I imagine this class face more of a challenge making the perfect straight lines and angles of CAD visually represent the rather more haphazard building techniques available to the Stuarts.

Some big learning for the pupils, but also potentially for the teachers and those of us thinking about learning as technology moves us into new areas. What are the affordances of this new way of working in terms of learning? What learning might we no longer have if we were to replace traditional woodwork with these kinds of activities entirely? How could we build both together and reach the potential of traditional and high tech?

Knowing the school I’m sure those conversations are happening, but it’s always worth sharing more widely so that even more of us can use this provocation to develop our thinking on learning.

 

References

Class 4KW’s blog

Class 4OQ’s blog

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