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Elementary & High School Students Design Furniture


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on Thu, 2012-01-19 14:17

High school students invited their younger colleagues from Varnell Elementary to visit Coahulla Creek High School and talk about furniture.

The video below shows how the fifth-graders worked with their older peers to design furniture that fit the work they do at Varnell Elementary. What they didn’t know was the high school class would make their dreams real. They built the furniture and installed it in their elementary classroom as a surprise.

Foundations: The Learning Landscape from the G school on Vimeo.

The teachers from Coahulla Creek who designed the lesson wrote a comprehensive summary about the furniture project and the philosophy of their “G school,” a school within a school model. Enjoy this excerpt about the project:

The 21st century workforce demands a variety of skills and competencies from America’s future graduates. Students will be expected to be effective communicators, critical-thinkers, and creative leaders in order to compete in the emerging global economy. Unfortunately, most schools do not offer the appropriate furnishings and physical space necessary to facilitate this type of learning approach. Most furniture for schools is overly standardized and is not designed for the needs of its clients, primarily the students. As time pushes forward and the needs of 21st century learners evolve, the environments that surround them must be adaptive, flexible, and responsive.

This challenge sought to add a personalized and user-centered approach to the design of modern classroom furniture. Throughout the learning process, students acquired and applied foundational skills and content knowledge in STEM, humanities, and design.

We wanted to ensure that our students had a voice in their learning. In that effort, students were surveyed in an effort to discover some elements of learning that would appeal to them.

Students stated that they would like to work on design challenges that were characterized by the following:

  1. Creating a Piece of Art as a Gift
  2. Working with Young Children
  3. Involvement in the Community
  4. Developing Blueprints
  5. Sketching and Drawing 6. Building and Constructing

We used these findings and made ensure that these attributes were included in the scope of our design challenge.

Finally, we thought it was important to provide experiences to our students that allowed them to think with both their heads and their hands. Too often, these experiences are separated for students. This was our attempt to bring it all together.

If that tidbit from the summary is interesting to you, you may enjoy the rest of the document (61 pages, 7mb PDF).