Year 10 Designers
Teaching Design Technology in a COVID world has been challenging over the past 18 months. Across the country, the core principles of the subject have been dissected beyond belief; teaching a practical subject without the practical ‘bit’ felt like it would be an impossible task. In spite of this, our students blew me away last year with their creativity and desire to develop as young designers and problem solvers. I feel it is incredibly important to showcase their talents and in particular, those of my Year 10 (now Year 11) class. I joined BGS in May 2020 and during lockdown, spent the first six weeks with this new GCSE cohort, without actually meeting them in person. Teaching online last summer to faceless names, I gave them a series of design challenges and research tasks to prepare them for the course. When we finally met in September, we started work on the different communication techniques designers use and then moved on to a project based on ergonomics and the redesign of everyday objects.
During the first lockdown, the students completed the Design Ventura mini challenge, a live brief set by the Design Museum. For this challenge, student’s had to pick one of three user groups and design a product for them that could potentially be sold in the Design Museum shop. They also completed a problem-solving task for which students were sent components through the post, in order to create a simple circuit for an LED light. Their task was to design the enclosure with the needs of a specific client in mind.
Communication of design is one of the key components of study for Design & Technology GCSE. It is also a fundamental building block for designers to bring their ideas to life. As such, we began the course looking at each one of the main techniques that designers use so that throughout the course, the students would have the tools to communicate their own ideas. Some techniques the students developed were:
- Freehand sketching
- Isometric and perspective drawing for 3D design
- Orthographic drawing for planning
- Enhancing designs using shading, texture and weight of line
For the ergonomics project, student’s had to identify a suitable client and conduct primary and secondary research to learn more about the client’s needs and what products are currently available commercially. We decided to focus on the redesign of the popular STAM IKEA pizza cutter. They analysed the existing product to discover it’s pro’s and con’s, and then they had to apply their mathematical skills through the application of anthropometric data collected from a range of stakeholders, which allowed them to design and model a more user-friendly, ergonomic handle for the cutter. It also meant they could personalise the previously standardised design to their client’s tastes.
Once we returned to school after Easter, I wanted to give the students the much-needed access to tools and machinery in the workshop, to allow them to develop their practical skills as well as knowledge and understanding of those processes. We started by spending time cutting and finishing timbers, one of the students key material groups within the GCSE specification. They enjoyed this immensely as they were allowed to use a number of different tools and machines to create a set of different traditional wood joints. This type of work requires precision and accuracy to create successful joints. The application of knowledge and skills will underpin and support both their practical work and exam revision in Year 11.
I am so proud of this group. Their work ethic, their enthusiasm and resilience throughout their first GCSE year has been inspirational. I am very excited to see what they will design and make in their final GCSE year at BGS!
Miss Milbank, DT Department