Former Taupaki School principal, Stephen Lethbridge, and students talk about how they solved real problems in their school during their makerspace learning. (Filmed September 2015)
Stephen Lethbridge: So the maker movement in schools for me is about authentic learning, finding real-world problems to help get across concepts and understandings of how the world works.
A group of our kids have come up with an innovative problem to solve our litter situation where we’ve had litter problems around the school. We’ve tried all sorts of things to, you know, alleviate that problem – let’s take the rubbish home, let’s do some recycling, but there still seems to be litter around everywhere. So some children, a group of 7, 8, and 9 year olds decided to flip the problem. Instead of it being a litter problem with the people, let’s make the rubbish bin more attractive to use. So they’ve come up with an interactive rubbish bin.
Student one: So this is a rubbish bin and we have waste, recycle, and reduce. And then like, first what we did was we were measuring, we had to put the stuff in that. And then after that we got creative to put all the wood on and that. We’re going to take it out to the school and then you put some rubbish in it and then we’re going to put the sound effects into it, like put a “yum yum yum” sound into it and then pretending it’s going to eat you and stuff like that.
Student two: Shall I do a recording? I’m doing a recording. Okay three two one go. Yum yum yum yum yum yum. Thank you.
Stephen Lethbridge: So this interactive rubbish bin will use micro controllers to encourage people to put their rubbish in the right place. So if there’s an infrared sensor that when you walk past it, it will boom “Oy, feed me rubbish!” And it will have little counters that will track the number of pieces of rubbish that will go into the bins and then put those up onto a scoreboard on top of the rubbish bin. So that’s an example of a problem that they’ve found, and then they’ve used design thinking to attack the problem from a number of different areas, and now they’re actually rapidly prototyping it and making it a reality.
It’s all about authentic context and today’s world is digital for our kids. Our kids live in a digital world. So therefore, we have to have digitally literate kids at a background level where they can create digitally, and ultimately that means coding, programming, algorithm thinking, along those lines. How do we get that into our classes and into our schools? And we’ve found that the best way to do that is through developing a maker culture where we’re teaching those skills almost via stealth.