There's a certain level of pride that comes from designing your own home. The satisfaction you can obtain from observing the concept take shape from the ground up is incomparable. Add imagination and innovation to spruce up your idea, though, and then you've got something special.
That's what the Grade 7 Innovate students of GEMS Dubai American Academy got to do with a recent project called "Future Homes" under the guidance of Paul Myer Hopkins, a digital video and innovation instructor at DAA.
"The project has a multi-faceted approach that incorporates all 6 of DAA's Future Fluencies," explains Paul. The Fluencies allowed the creative Grade 7 Innovators to use structured processes to achieve their original design goals in ways that foster significant learning.
As with any authentic learning journey, it all begins with defining the challenge. “The first phase involved gathering information to identify the most urgent problems facing the world today,” Paul says. From there, the research focused on advancements in science and technology and how those ideas could be applied to designing more efficient homes.
“The design cycle was applied as they developed prototypes, and then applied recently-acquired Tinkercad skills to build virtual 3D models,” he continues.
Researching ecological home design for the Future Homes project
A creative design tool like Tinkercad lent itself well to this kind of work as it provides a multidimensional experience for both designer and observer. In using it, the student innovators were able to bring their ideas to life in intriguing interactive ways.
Another primary focus throughout the entire Future Homes project was on students collaborating effectively. This was made all the more accessible through the document sharing capabilities of both Tinkercad and Googles Docs, which the Grade 7 Innovators used exclusively.
As the work progressed, the Grade 7 Innovators produced some amazing proposals that showcased their imagination, ingenuity, and problem-solving abilities. Some of the notable concepts they generated were things like a city-wide power conservation solution that involves placing sensors on recycling bins that relay vital information to their main plant. Another idea involved washroom facilities containing biotechnology that warns occupants about the symptoms of possible impending illness.
Grade 7 Innovate students work on their future home designs
The students shared many groundbreaking ideas, like various eco-friendly green home features that cut down on air pollution. They developed portable in-home power outlets that have a lifetime power supply. They also produced videos using green screen technology that let them take viewers on virtual tours of the homes they designed.
All in all, the Grade 7 Innovators brought together teams that truly envisioned the future, and found ways to bring their dreams into a reality that could one day be more real than we may think.
"When the students are encouraged to ask questions and solve problems that come from their own experience, you immediately get a buy-in," Paul states. "This results in a much higher level of interest and sustained engagement."
- Students are becoming better collaborators because they get regular practice working in groups.
- They are encouraged to ask questions and learn from mistakes, resulting in higher levels of interest and sustained engagement.
- Students are directing their learning, going further and at times in entirely new and unforeseen directions.
As a teacher with over 20 years of experience, Paul is always looking for new ways to help students to connect with the subject material. "I have found it quite easy to incorporate the Fluencies into older lesson plans," he says, "which I feel has made them more relevant and meaningful to students.'
- The Fluencies processes allow teachers to incorporate and embrace ever-changing innovations and technologies because they are rooted in tried-and-tested methodologies.
- Teachers are taking to the Fluencies concepts quickly because they are adaptable to many different topics and scenarios.
The Fluencies were introduced at GEMS DAA to encourage teachers to think differently about their methods, with the goal being to encourage more innovation and collaboration throughout the school. Teachers are taking to the concepts quite quickly because they are adaptable to different topics and scenarios.
- The Fluencies provide a framework for teachers acting as facilitators of student learning, allowing the students themselves to take the lead.
- Using the Fluencies supports the guiding philosophy of DAA, which is a “Culture of Kindness.”
- They help to foster collaboration, empathy, and cultural understanding.
- Students are getting a more consistent teaching approach from all classes and subjects.