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Design Technology at American International School Dhaka
By Jennifer Passey 12-Jan-16
At the American International School Dhaka (AISD) we are dedicated to being a community of lifelong learners. We want students of all ages to continue to discover what it means to learn in a variety of classroom environments. This is because the skills learned in the classrooms here are the foundation of our students’ ability to solve problems throughout their adult life. Starting in sixth grade at AISD, students are introduced to our Design Technology (DT) curriculum. The DT program embraces the ideas and technologies of the Makerspace movement taking hold in communities and schools around the world. Edutopia, a well-known online education resource, describes this approach as one that emphasizes do-it-yourself creativity and creation using new digital tools to make, share, and learn (West-Puckett 2013). “Middle school students embrace the chance to create and build,” notes Middle School Principal, Susan Lacy. “Whether our students are learning how to use a bandsaw with precision or designing a product with our 3-D printer, our DT classes provide students hands-on learning with immediate feedback. They feel purposeful as they develop the skills and critical thinking necessary to complete the design process.” The AISD DT program utilizes a design cycle in which students first investigate, then plan, create, and evaluate. The reflective act of evaluation teaches students to apply critical and creative thinking skills as they determine how best to design their product to serve the intended purpose. Students document their progress as they follow this design cycle and develop a feasible solution to a project idea or problem. They are given access to a number of both traditional and digital tools, including six Makerbot ® 3-D printers, a Trotec ® laser cutter, DeWALT ® power saws, and more. The design cycle was highlighted as a seventh-grader used the process to create a keychain featuring his favorite Major League baseball team. After many hours of designing and over eight hours of printing in the Makerbot ® 3-D printer, the product he designed was complete. Immediately upon taking it out of the printer he saw one significant fault in his design: the piece linking the keychain to a key was not attached. When asked how the student thought it turned out he said, “Most of my design came out just right, but I took a long look at it with some friends to see how I can make it work right the next time.” Often times students (and adults), when working with technology, want to jump straight into the creation of a product without taking the time to research and plan what design elements and features are needed. “I was a little disappointed, but I am confident that I can make some minor adjustments to my design and programming and make it better the second time,” noted the student upon reflection. The goal is to see this program and its technology eventually implemented through grades K to 12. Jaime Morris, AISD’s Design Technology Instructor, says, “Our state-of-the-art DT lab has much to offer AISD students. The teachers who have taken advantage of the lab have seen their students walk away with pure excitement and energy along with the lifelong lesson of discovering the power of creative learning.” Reference: West-Puckett, Stephanie. Remaking Education: Designing Classrooms Makerspaces for Transformative Learning. Edutopia. George Lucas Educational Foundation. 13 Sept 2013. Web. 23 Oct 2015.
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