The launch of the Makerversity DIY website was little over 6 months ago, featuring 10 simple and exciting lesson plans, created by professional designers and engineers, that enable educators to incorporate making and hands-on activities into everyday classroom environments.
Rather than just promote our lessons to schools from the comfort of Makerversity HQ, we felt it was important to test the lessons out in real school environments to help gauge interest, capture the experience of children in real time and gain valuable feedback from teachers.
So from September 2015 to February 2016, Sarah, Charlotte, Scott and Stuart travelled across London and the surrounding area, with our DIY kit boxes (full of high and low tech equipment, gadgets and resource packs) and got to experience what it was like to be teachers for the day, challenging stuff!
First, we headed to Snaresbrook Primary in east London where a group of year 2 children created some brilliant microscopes made out of webcams, designed their own uniforms and created a 3D cookie cutter using Autodesk 123D, we then headed to Queens Manor Primary in Fulham to work with a year 3 class on creating their own measuring tape and building a greenhouse and workbench for their classroom, next we spent the day over at the Tunmarsh Pupil Referral Unit in Plaistow with a group of year 10’s creating the incredible interactive wall graphics and finally, we ended the tour in Northampton, where we worked with a class of year 3 students at Vernon Terrace Primary, teaching them how to make their own sand timers and design buildings in 3D.
Across the four schools, we had an overwhelmingly positive response from teachers and pupils. All the schools expressed a keen interest in the lesson content and a need for more innovative ways of teaching design and technology skills in their classrooms. “I think that learning by making is one of the best ways to learn, I think that hands-on experience with an actual end point that creates something for them is really beneficial” Tracey Hillier, D&T Co-ordinator, Snaresbrook Primary. The children were engaged in the lesson content and enjoyed the problem solving and working with new tools and technology, especially the Ultimaker 3D printer!
There is still quite a lot of work to be done within schools to give more priority to creative subjects (there is a great campaign from The Design and Technology Association that highlights this) and the teachers we worked with felt that they also need support with learning the relevant skills to take on new challenges. The schools also expressed an interest in more lesson plans that incorporate themselves. Hands-on skills into other curriculum subjects such as Science and English which has given us some great ideas of what to do next!
As part of the tour, we also worked with the brilliant Common Works to create a short film highlighting the benefits of DIY to schools and educators.
The next steps for us at Makerversity are to explore a range of new lesson plans and content and to get the DIY resources out far and wide to enable more people to experience the many benefits of making!
I will leave the last word to one very enthusiastic student at Queens Manor Primary who when asked if he has enjoyed taking part in the Makerversity DIY lessons said: “If I could, I would do it every single day of school for the rest of my life!’. We agree!